The Survivalists | PS4 Review
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
The Survivalists, made by the creators of The Escapists, Team17, is a cute, aesthetically pleasing survival game where you find yourself stranded on a desert island with nothing but a few berries and some pebbles aboard your wrecked raft. Alongside the typical survival aspects such as crafting everything that you need, gathering all the resources to do the crafting and ensuring that your character is well fed and healthy, there is a wealth of other challenges and features that you have to face and overcome in The Survivalists. However, unlike a lot of survival games, you are joined by a wonderful group of friends in the form of monkeys that you can find scattered around the island. For the purposes of this review I was playing the PlayStation 4 version of The Survivalists.
A surprising feature in The Survivalists is that you can play multiplayer where you can all work together to build your island and fight off enemies together. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to try this feature yet but it looks like if you don't have any friends with the game, you can search for groups within the game and be matched with others who are online. This is something I really like to see in survival games because there are hours of fun to be had playing these games with friends and I could see this game being a lot more enjoyable with a few friends!
The general framework of The Survivalists fits the structure of any good survival game; gather basic resources, make harvesting tools, base building, feeding yourself, fighting off locals and upgrade your weapons and as mentioned previously, you can gather an army of monkeys to aid you in just about any task. You can train them to copy what you do, for example you can build a second work bench and have them mimic you and help with the hard work. As the saying goes, "a job shared, is a job halved!". As you begin to craft the basic items that are initially available, you quickly start to unlock the remaining items necessary for a comfortable, happy life. No two playthroughs will be identical either because with each new game that you start, the islands are procedurally generated which I love. I would love to see more survival games follow a similar concept because it really would be a game changer for so many already successful titles.
As you begin to adjust to the game and progress the need to venture further afield from your safe, comfortable beach, you'll quickly start to find hostiles. I found the combat to be quite challenging and rather frustrating. I felt like I was just rolling around, doing miniscule amounts of damage meanwhile the enemy was absolutely destroying me. However as I grew my army of monkeys this did get progressively easier. The first thing that bothered me about the game was after a few days (in game time) I got the notification that a raid was incoming. I had no weapons yet - I was in the middle of gathering resources for a bow and all of a sudden two strong enemies charged at me and my one lowly monkey friend, and we were defenseless. As I'm sure you can imagine, death was the end of that situation. I was also disappointed to find that some of the things that I built had been ever so kindly destroyed by the raiders. Thankfully, The Survivalists is quite forgiving when you die and you simply respawn back at your raft with some basic necessities found to help you start again and repair the damage.
When I wasn't in the thick of a serious battle for my life, I found this game particularly relaxing and enjoyable in a way I've experienced with other titles like Stardew Valley and I feel like I could appreciate this game even more after spending more time with it. I'm very keen to try the multiplayer aspect. Whilst it's obviously going to be far more enjoyable with friends, the great thing about The Survivalists is that playing solo doesn't feel like an impossible task and it's still plenty enjoyable without it unlike other titles in the survival genre that really require that co-op help, the biggest example being The Forest, a game that I absolutely adore but could never see myself playing solo.
The Survivalists is a wonderful addition to the genre and I would certainly recommend it. Team17 have managed to capture the urgency necessary for survival but also creating an experience that can be taken at each individual's own pace. You could easily spend ten (in-game) days just resource building and crafting but equally you could go out on constant adventures hunting down treasure and fighting hordes of orcs.
Lj's Rating: 4 Monkeys out of 5.