2020 has been a rough year. Throughout various lockdowns across the globe, this has truly been a time where entertainment has been more vital than ever as social lives have been disrupted, work schedules have never felt more rote and a general malaise has gripped almost everyone. So how about a break? Meet The Survivalists!
Enjoy desperately struggling to survive on a desert island full of killer animals and brutal cannibals. Funny how such a bleak scenario should feel like sheer escapism but hey! That’s 2020. Following the teams, Escapists series The Survivalists swaps imprisonment for an open-world adventure. Robinson Crusoe would feel right at home.
A Holiday to Die For
Crafting is your main priority. You need to build tools to gather resources to build better tools to build structures… it’s a complex web of unlocking designs to better your chances of living. You could assume the game is a rogue-like and that death would make you start from scratch but thankfully this isn’t the case. Instead, your inventory is dumped where you expired so you can reclaim it on your next life.
This is especially a relief as you’re gonna die in The Survivalists. A lot! Enemies in this game mean business, especially towards the beginning. When tantalising tombs and caves present themselves it’s tempting to explore but beware! Cannibals and animals are hungry and you’re looking mighty tasty. This is an early annoyance as crafting weapons is time-consuming and they don’t last long at all. You’re not eased into combat so much as thrown onto a small island where everything wants you dead.
But why do any of this stuff yourself? Just train an army of monkeys to do it! Though an immediately appealing concept, this is where the game starts to fall apart. Despite seemingly simple concepts they are presented in an irritatingly obtuse way that starts to turn simple tasks into major irritations. A limited inventory means you’ll be dumping countless objects, cluttering the mad and turning the desert island into a messy toddlers playroom. Manually training the monkeys to perform tasks is tedious.
It’s a shame as it’s a title that looks and sounds gorgeous. Simple yet striking sprite art and a hypnotic score provides a siren-like allure to the adventure but there are far too many annoyances. Veterans of the survival genre may forgive these irritations but the less patient will escape the island in a simpler way than intended; by simply turning the game off.