Steam Library: The Survivalists

Crafting and building in the game

Somewhere deep inside The Survivalists is hidden a decent game about adventures on tropical islands. A game where you build yourself a cozy outpost, embark on risky rafting journeys, explore dangerous swamps, and hunt for ancient treasures. And also, you can tame wild monkeys, teach them various tricks, and thus organize a whole conveyor belt capable of competing with the largest Chinese enterprises in its industrial power.

Oh, if only at a critical moment one of the game designers of Studio XXX had carefully examined their project and proposed to the team, “Maybe we should forget about these monkeys?” But alas, fate decided otherwise.

Surviving in a tropical setting

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before truly hating everything related to our domesticated primates, we should figure out what is happening in the game, where to run, and what the point is.

Here’s the deal. Our pixelated hero crashed in an isometric sea and miraculously survived, finding themselves on the shore of a tropical island. What to do? Of course, build a raft. But to build a raft, we need planks and a sail. Let’s forget about the sail for now, we have plenty to do without it. To cut the planks, we need wood, a tool, and a workbench. Let’s forget about the workbench too, we need a tool to build it, it’s a priority. To make ourselves a tool, we need wood and ropes. And both can be obtained with literally anything, including a sharpened stone, which TE finally allows you to craft from several simple stones scattered on the beach.

In short, my friend, you’re here for the long haul. And since you’re here for the long haul, you need to worry about food and at least a basic bed. To assemble a bed, you need…

An island teeming with wildlife

Familiar formula, yes. We explore a randomly generated world until our inventory bursts, then we return to a conditional base and craft everything we can from the collected junk. At first, we create fragile and ugly nonsense, but it’s still better than nothing. Strengthened by the nonsense, we delve deeper into the world than before, capturing slightly higher-ranked junk. And so on until the victorious end after 300 hours of weapon racing, architectural experiments, and harsh expeditions.

But that’s not all! So that we don’t get bored alone and don’t go crazy from endless crafting, The Survivalists has given us the opportunity to befriend the smartest inhabitants of the local thickets – monkeys. After getting to know them and completing a course as a young builder/porter/warrior, these clever animals will start doing big things for you! Isn’t it a disaster, isn’t it the dream of any island magnate? You tell one monkey to gather wood, the second one to gather grass, the third one to weave ropes from the grass, the fourth one to bring the wood and ropes to the workbench, the fifth one to finally make the item you need, the sixth… the seventh… And you continue your journey. Well, a running conveyor will destroy all vegetation in the area and grind it into useful items in 5 minutes.

Characters navigating a dense jungle

Why do I hate The Survivalists monkeys? There are three reasons.

The first one is the disgusting interface. Interacting with the monkeys requires a separate intricate system, similar to one of the crafting chains described above, only worse. First, we call the monkey, then we throw a signal banana to it. After that, the monkey goes into stand-by mode and waits for us to do something useful. For example, chopping down trees again. If nothing glitches or goes wrong (which is also possible), the recruited primate will understand what we want from it and start demanding an axe. Once it receives one, our new helper will start chopping down all the surrounding forests until there are no more trees in the area or until the tool breaks.

To transport the wood to the nearest crate, we need a separate monkey, to which we will have to separately show – pick up the item from the ground, carry it to the crate, and put it in the crate. To transport resources to the workbench, where a third, also scripted monkey is waiting for them, it is desirable to train a fourth monkey.

Can you already feel how fun it is? We have a whole archipelago with poorly placed items, but adventures are for weaklings. Here we are programming algorithms for animals.

The game's world with a tropical vibe

By the way, the monkeys often get upset for various reasons. In theory, the pictograms above the primates’ heads are supposed to help us understand what’s wrong. But they don’t. I don’t know what each of the icons means even after playing for hours. Firstly, the icons themselves don’t tell me anything, strangely enough, and secondly, I can’t find them in any in-game manual. I have enough patience to try to solve the problem once, but then it’s easier for me to start teaching the primate from scratch.

Well, the main flaw of The Survivalists monkeys is that they can’t be gotten rid of.

Okay, local dances with production chains are not for me. Can I just do everything myself then? My character has hands, and know-how too.

No, you can’t. Did you decide to build your own sector of fortress walls? Did you gather all the resources? Piled them up in one place? Brought the tools? Great, now sit quietly at the keyboard for two minutes and watch as the construction process indicator fills up, um, fills up. Then move on to the second sector. The system is designed in such a way that no matter how much I hate the local laborers, things will go even slower and more tedious without them.

Crafting and survival in a tropical paradise

I can’t even travel properly! There are so many enemies around that it’s better not to go anywhere without a couple of bodyguards. And what’s more, the main character’s inventory is so tight that it often gets filled up by the third minute, sorry, I mean, trip. It’s absolutely necessary to have a monkey with a big box constantly following you. Which she will inevitably drop at the first random injury.

In general, monkeys are destiny. Destiny to deal with boring mechanics and inconvenient interface, remembering that there are games in the world where you can simply build something in two clicks, where units can immediately bring themselves iron from the warehouse and forge a sword out of it, where your hero has a spacious backpack on his shoulders.

I never thought I would say this out loud, but even in RimWorld, the interface is much more straightforward and understandable.

Exploring lush and vibrant jungles

I can even imagine why the developers of The Survivalists fell so in love with their idea of monkeys that they couldn’t throw it away in the trash on time. Such a wonderful idea, getting rid of routine – ordering the game to build a palace for you, giving commands, going into the forest for an hour, coming back – and there’s already beauty.

Plus, how great these monkeys fit into the world of The Survivalists. Maybe the monkeys were even invented first, and everything around them was already painted. And in general, working primates are a cool unique feature that distinguishes the game from something like Don’t Starve.

Finally, the studio manages to create a strategy game adapted for gamepads. This is a jackpot, a completely unusual release, sales on consoles, phones, and toasters, and a lot of additional money.


Resource gathering and building in the game

After all, The Survivalists do have noticeable positive features. The artists have done a great job and have endowed the local islands with a thousand interesting curiosities. It is interesting to travel around the islands, just admiring the sights.

Moreover, the designers have given gamers the chance not only to move from island to island but also to build a whole system of outposts, which can eventually be connected to each other by building magical portals. How can one not get stuck for several dozen hours?

Journeys to wild islands are captivating, despite the fact that every few minutes you stop to transfer the loot to the cargo trailer of a monkey. You want to keep going, explore more, and gather even better resources.

But alas, you already know in advance that the food will soon run out, and you will have to return to camp. Where your friends have been waiting for you for a long time, and they have hardly done anything (because the algorithm went haywire a minute after you left) and you will have to retrain them for at least 15 minutes. Sorry, playing with such deadweights is not for me.

The Survivalists
PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Adventure, Roguelike, Sandbox
Team17 Digital Ltd
Team17 Digital Ltd
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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