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The Survivalists

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 12 - 2020

Monkeying around on a not so deserted island.

 
Prison-break-’em-up The Escapists has proved popular enough that Team17 have decided to take this style in other directions, and after having spent some time trying to escape from incarceration, why not challenge the player to escape an entire island. With much more emphasis on survival, The Survivalists not only asks the player to keep their little character fed and safe, but also provides plenty of surprises to keep them entertained.

 


 
Anyone who has played a survival game will recognise the basics here. The player has washed up on the beach of an unknown island and will have to start from scratch with their goal of survival. This will begin by simply crafting a small axe of sorts from some pebbles, which in turn will allow trees and such to be chopped down, giving access to yet more materials that can be used to craft yet more gear. The early crafting includes the likes of a chest to store stuff in and a bed which, along with a blanket, will allow the player to sleep at night and save the game.

 
They can also craft a bonfire, which uses wood to enable cooking. This is important as hunger will gradually increase and lead the player to starvation. Berries or coconuts are easy enough to find on the procedurally generated island, but are not very satisfying. Using the bonfire will lead to unlocking various recipes using different ingredients that provide much more satisfying meals. It also leads to monkey food, but more on that in a moment.

 
Anyway, fairly quickly the player will be able to build a multi-tool, which can be used to complete more complex crafting, and a workbench that offers more blueprints to follow. items are unlocked on a grid where the player will make an item and then unlock those around it, leading to a journey of discovery that not only makes the essentials, such as tools and weapons, but also cosmetic items that the player can use to create their own space on the island, including walls and wall furnishings.

 


 
Weapons are quite handy because the little survivalist is not alone on the island. As they explore, trying to find more resources, the player will come across plenty of secrets and surprises, from temples to dungeons, and even treasure maps. There is an abundance of interesting stuff to find on the island, not least of which are the wildlife. Much of this wildlife, which can make for a handy meat portion if dealt with, will attack on sight. There are even a tribe of Orcs that will raid the players settlements, destroying and stealing.

 
The combat mechanics are a little loose, but will be familiar to those who played The Escapists. The difference is that there is now the chance to roll out of the way and avoid being hit by whatever enemy they face. While I found being able to dodge out of the way incredibly handy, actually landing blows took a much longer time to get used to.

 
But then, why fight alone? So far, The Survivalists is fairly by the books and as expected. However, throwing some monkeys into the mix really makes things interesting. Early in the game, the player will come across a monkey that will quite happily follow them around as they gather and explore. Soon though, they will find another monkey that can be tempted to join the team in exchange for some monkey food. Before long, the player will have a tribe of monkeys to accompany them.

 


 
The monkeys are not just there for comic relief though, they can be trained. The monkeys can mimic whatever the player can do. Give a monkey an axe and have it watch the player cut down a tree, and it will run around, cutting down trees with gleeful abandon. Train another monkey to gather the materials and put them in a chest. Even have a monkey carry a chest around to make up for the woefully small inventory. Those on a power trip could arm the monkeys and teach them to fight, then just sit back and watch while the furry little devils take care of anything that even looks slightly threatening.

 
In practice, much like the combat, training monkeys could be easier. While getting them to do what the player wants is a bit hit or miss, sometimes they can forget, or accidentally take on another task. Then the actual job of managing a large group of monkeys can get slightly overwhelming. Along with the combat, the incredibly limited inventory and the monkey management, I did notice some difficulty registering inputs from time to time, so there is definitely some improvement that needs to come in The Survivalists.

 


 
With treasure to be found, monkeys to be trained and even co-op play for up to four players, The Survivalists is fun survival game that will instantly appeal to Escapists fans. Constant inventory shuffling can prove frustrating, and some of the mechanics can be less than precise, but I would guess that fixes for much of this will come fairly quickly. Even with the problems, the game can offer the excitement of dungeons crawling alongside the serene management and crafting of Stardew Valley. It may need some polish, but The Survivalists is packed with charm and worth checking out. Just don’t invite the monkeys.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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