The Survivalists Review
Recently, Team17 released The Survivalists, an action-adventure sandbox game set in the universe of The Escapists. Explore the chain of islands you have been deserted on, gather materials to build a base and craft vital tools, and even train monkeys to help you in this four-player co-op survival game. Adventure through hidden vaults and fight off ferocious enemies while adapting to your environment and working to somehow find your way home! Available now on current-gen consoles and PC, The Survivalists looks to combine our favourite elements from a few different games. Let’s dive right in!
Improvise. Adapt. Survive.
The Survivalists begins with some minor character customization before you wake up on a stranded beach next to your broken raft. Using the extraordinarily helpful tips and tutorials, you will quickly get a feel for most of the game’s mechanics. The sandbox nature of the game becomes quickly evident, and your eyes are opened into this wonderful homogeneous concoction of Stardew Valley, Ark: Survival Evolved and Autonauts.
You are given your main objectives – explore, craft and survive. Seems simple enough, no? Except sometimes, when you can do everything, the hardest thing to do is anything. This is how my adventure in The Survivalists began, constantly questioning where I should begin building and how best to proceed. But then, I took a step back and made one very conscious decision: Do. Not. Rush. Yourself. This was in direct contradiction to how I play games, always looking to find the most efficient route and effective tactics. Something about The Survivalists truly celebrates a relaxed approach, although there are brief periods of intensity that we will get into later.
Initially, you are limited to crafting very basic tools and objects, but as you progress through the game you unlock various crafting stations that exponentially expand your crafting capabilities. Before you know it, you will be trading your wooden club for a metal sword and bows & arrows, and your straw walls will turn to stone. This is all done, of course, with the help of your unfailing allies – the local primate population.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
To thrive in the world of The Survivalists, it is imperative that you make good use of your monkey friends. Scattered throughout the world, monkeys will join your cause after being freed from their cage or fed a ‘Monkey Meal’, which can be crafted at a campfire. Once a monkey has been acquired, they never die! If they sustain too much damage in combat they will be knocked unconscious, but they can quickly be revived and come back just as good as before. This makes them one of the most important resources at your disposal!
Monkeys can perform virtually any task that you can – often in a much more effective manner! This means that, whenever possible, you should let your monkeys do the work for you. This includes having monkeys perform your foraging, gathering, crafting, fighting and more. Once you have enough monkeys you can begin to build fully automated building/crafting chains, that will only be interrupted when your monkey’s tools break. This frees up more of your time to continue exploring your islands and diving into some treasure vaults!
Treasure, treasure everywhere!
Do not be fooled by The Survivalists simple looks, there are a few really exciting and fast-paced components to this title. Combat would certainly top this list, as raids are sent periodically to your base camp with little warning, and can be a real thorn in the side of anyone who is caught unprepared. To counter this, it is wise to focus on even a basic wall around most of your base. If nothing else, this funnels enemies through a small choke-point, making them much easier targets for you and any of your monkeys that are set to Combat mode.
Some of the most intense combat comes from the hidden Vaults and Labyrinths throughout the islands, which offer impressive rewards at the peril of being killed and losing all of your items. I recommend bringing 2-3 combat-ready monkeys (preferably at least one with a ranged weapon) with you on your journey. As with most tasks, monkeys are more efficient in combat than you will be, and there is something immensely satisfying watching your furry friends dispatch the villainous foes who would otherwise be terrorizing your adventure.
Die-Hards Need Not Apply
While there is plenty of positive to say about The Survivalists, it is certainly not without its flaws. Some of the monkey’s AI controls can be frustrating, especially when you are trying to only direct one monkey and 8 of them come rushing toward you, halting all crafting and building in progress. There are a few very minor bugs as well, where some items on the ground cannot be picked up or the image of an inventory item remains in place long after the item itself has been used. It should be noted that the developers are diligently working on the game, with regular hotfixes coming out and plenty of communication from their team via social media. This is an encouraging fact, as good post-launch support from a developer is very important.
While not game-breaking, these bugs are frequent enough that I hope the devs patch them out in short order. It also turns out that the game encourages a relaxed game pace for a reason. There is somewhat of a content shortage for late-game Survivalists. The crafting options that expanded so quickly turn stagnant, and those who charge forward may find that they do not get full value from this game. If you are someone who does not enjoy taking things slow, this may not be the game for you. To their credit, the dev team has also been very vocal about adding future content and testing community requests via the Experimental Branch of the game.
Overall, The Survivalists is a purely joyous title, one that I would not have trouble recommending to anyone who was not a die-hard min/max gamer. The art style is entirely suited to the gameplay and the musical soundtrack is sublime. The game’s many facets, while not overly in-depth, are plentiful enough to provide players with a solid value for the cost of the game, even without any of the future content that the dev team has already announced/teased. Casual gamers, survival/crafting gamers and automation fans alike should all seriously take a look at The Survivalists – you’ll be happy you did!
Learn more about The Survivalists here: https://www.team17.com/games/the-survivalists/