Developed by Team 17 who are well-known for their fun, tongue-in-cheek, party games, The Survivalists takes on the survival genre. If you are familiar with The Escapists game, you’ll know to expect some lighthearted humor and unique artwork.
If you love games like Minecraft and Don’t Starve, think of The Survivalists as a wonderful combination of the two. The Survivalists is available on PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, and Xbox One. This Survivalist review focuses specifically on the Xbox version of the game.
Deserted (The Story Begins)
Starting on a deserted island, your job is to start creating tools so that you can learn the game’s mechanics. The tutorial tooltips will help you to get started, which I recommend paying attention to. First, you’ll craft a hand ax made from pebbles.
If you’re looking for challenging gameplay, The Survivalists doesn’t pose much risk. If you die, you’ll respawn back at your last save point. Like many survival games, you can return to your previous location to collect any items you dropped upon death.
Crafting (Mechanics & Blueprints)
Beginning with a hand ax made from pebbles isn’t going to be much use further down the line. As you chop down trees, you’ll obtain raw materials you can use to create more advanced weapons and items. Materials like grass, petals, and wood will allow you to unlock more blueprints.
In The Survivalists’ “Blueprint Mode”, you’ll find furniture you can craft. You can place down any furniture you want, like a bed, walls, fireplaces, and so on. You can also create decorative items like shields that you can hang on your base’s walls. It’s really up to you how creative you want to get here.
Monkeys (Companion or Complicated?)
As you explore the deserted island in The Survivalists, you’ll come across monkeys that you can befriend. When I came across my first monkey I thought “oh, how exciting!”, but this feeling, unfortunately, didn’t last too long. While I wasn’t expecting the mechanics or intelligence akin to Planet Zoo’s animals, I did expect more than I came across.
Monkeys will follow you around by default. However, you can also train them to complete jobs like chop down trees. The issue with this is, they tend to run off in multiple long-distance directions, leaving behind a trail of of things for you to pick up. If you assign them to do something else, they’ll completely forget their previous task, requiring you to retrain them.
While the concept of the monkeys is good, and I can see it has potential, it’s yet to be refined. I found it more tedious than rewarding, making the point of the monkeys almost obsolete.
Combat (Monkeying Around)
As you’d expect from a survival game, there are enemies that you’ll face. These include the likes of orcs, bats, and so on. While these don’t pose too much of an issue, it comes down once again to the monkeys getting in the way.
In The Survivalists, there is something called a multitool. This is used for crafting. You can’t equip a weapon like a spear if you have the multitool equipped. Although this isn’t really an issue to quickly switch out what you’re holding, it does become a cumbersome task when you have to micromanage your monkeys.
Finding out which monkey has a multitool or weapon equipped is really tiring. They often clump together making it very difficult to select a specific one. If you have multiple monkeys trained to fight enemies, you’ll often have to select them all and click “train” for them to listen to your command.
Even if enemies are gouging their eyes out, monkeys will do what monkeys do, and will wander around awaiting your input. If you misclick and select a tree instead of an enemy, things go from bad to worse.
Exploration (Mysterious Rewards)
Moving on from the monkeys, The Survivalists does have some very redeeming and rewarding features. Exploring the deserted island is definitely one of the highlights for me. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter a Mysterious Stranger who is an NPC vendor. You can purchase treasure maps and labyrinth keys that can help you escape the island.
Throughout The Survivalists campaign, you’ll come across various treasures, vaults, and mini-dungeons. Further into the game you can use a spyglass which allows you to view distant locations. You can build a raft and sail off, uncovering even more treasures.
Despite some clunky gameplay, mainly with the monkeys in The Survivalists, this game offers an exciting campaign. Discovering new lands, crafting new items, and creatively designing your base are just some of the highlights in The Survivalists.
To combat the monkey dilemma, it works well to assign just a couple of monkeys with weapons, while the rest carry chests. Although it is a unique feature, I would recommend not going overboard with the monkeys as it just becomes too frustrating.
With an online co-op feature, The Survivalists is an enjoyable game that you can play with your friends. This eliminates the need for any monkey business, allowing you to complete The Survivalists game in true style.