The Survival game genre has never been as popular as it is right now and that also means that there have never been as many good ones as now.

Want to test yourself in a post-apocalyptic world without rules? Or perhaps you want to see how long you can survive in a zombie-infested landscape. No matter what kind of survival game you are looking for, we have got you covered.

Today we are taking a look at the best survival games on the market today, and we consider anything from basic survival games to the ultimate horror survival games.

Subnautica

In Short: Explore and gather resources to survive underwater on an alien planet.

Screenshot from Subnautica ps game

Subnautica took the survival gaming community by storm in 2018 with its unique premise and incredibly addictive gameplay. Subnautica has you exploring the vast underwater oceans of Planet 4546B that is filled with awesome creatures and secrets to explore.

Subnautica has everything a survival geek might crave. A deep and rewarding crafting system, a vast and exciting world to explore and a base building system that puts Fallout to shame, to mention a few. It also offers a dynamic day and night cycle which alters the gameplay, a functioning ecosystem and endless secrets and mysteries to solve.

Subnautica is one of the best survival adventure games to ever come out and certainly on the top of our list of modern survival adventure games. It’s innovative design and the carefully crafted world and game mechanics makes it as addictive as can be.


Frostpunk

In Short: A city building simulator set in a harsh and unforgiving world that forces you to make tough decisions and do whatever it takes for your people to survive.

Image of Frostpunk pc game

Frostpunk takes place in an alternate 1886 where natural catastrophe has caused a global volcanic winter which has already cost the lives of millions. The British government responds by creating so-called ”generators” which are designed as city centers to help against the relentless winter. The game offers a couple of different scenarios, all with unique background story and events but in all of them, you are the leader of a city build around these generators.

As the city leader, you need to govern, build, and do everything to ensure the survival of your people in this unforgiving climate. In many ways, it works like a SimCity game but with a focus on survival in a world that constantly tries to destroy you.

This brings us to the most significant selling point of Frostpunk, decisions. The cruel world of Frostpunk constantly forces you to make harsh moral decisions, all of which have huge consequences. Never has a game made me question the morality of my choices and never have I been so appropriately punished for them. Frostpunk‘s consequence system is excellent, and it never feels like I am randomly punished, all of the outcomes from my decisions made sense one way or the other which puts so much more weight into your decisions.

Frostpunk is an incredibly deep, engaging and addictive game experience that offers almost endless replayability and brings one of the best governing systems I have ever experienced in a game.


Ark: Survival Evolved

In Short: Survive as a castaway on a desert island filled with prehistoric creatures with a sci-fi twist.

Screenshot from Ark Survival evolved

  • Release Date: 2017
  • Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Type: Action-adventure survival 
  • Modes: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
  • Steam Rating: 6/10
  • Link: Official Site / Watch on SteamBuy From amazon

Ark got off to a very rough start when it first released due to many valid complaints which is why it is still ranked rather poorly on a lot of platforms. However, after several patches and content updates this game is better than ever and finally in a state where I would really recommend it to any survival enthusiast.

The premise is simple, you are stranded on an island inhabited by prehistoric animals such as Dinosaurs and must look for ways to survive the harsh environment. You have several tools at your disposal such as crafting weapons, building a base, and even taming wild creatures and have them aid you.

Where Ark: Survival Evolved shines is the world and the taming mechanic. The world of Ark is enormous, beautiful and a lot of fun to explore. The taming system allows you to win over almost all of the 132 species of animals and dinosaurs that you may find in the world and have them aid you. This allows you to not only gain a companion but take advantage of each species unique abilities and even ride them around the world. Some creatures can run incredibly fast, some flyes and some are even talented swimmers. All of which are talents that you can take advantage of to help you survive the hostile environment. On top of this, it also offers a pretty deep crafting system both concerning weapons and base-building, in any sense of the word Ark: Survival Evolved is a triple-A survival game and a lot of fun, especially to play with friends.


Dying Light

In Short: Investigate and survive in a quarantined city infested with zombies in a game that has you genuinely fearful of the night to come.

Screen capture from Dying light playstation 4 game

  • Release Date: 2015
  • Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
  • Type: Open world first-person survival horror game
  • Modes: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
  • Steam Rating: 9/10
  • Link: Official Site / Watch on SteamBuy From amazon

From the creators of Dead Island comes the huge critical and commercial success, Dying Light. One of the very few survival horror games with an interesting story and even better gameplay. The game has a deep and customizable weapon system that should feel familiar to fans of the Dead Island franchise and offer a fully open world with very few restrictions as the game has a very well executed parkour system that allows you to climb and free run as you wish throughout the city of Harran.

Where Dying Light really shines is with the variation in enemies and it’s dynamic day and night cycle which further shakes things up. The human and undead inhabitants of the city behaves a lot different during the day and the night. The day is a time to stock up on resources and prepare for what’s to come, whereas the night is about one thing and one thing only, survival.


Related: Proper surround sound is key to knowing where the next zombie is coming from. Here are the best gaming headsets available today.


Don’t Starve

In Short: See how many days you can survive in this dark and supernatural world where the deaths are permanent and nights are spooky.

Screenshot from indie game Don't Starve

  • Release Date: 2013
  • Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, IOS, Android
  • Type: Open world survival game
  • Modes: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
  • Steam Rating: 10/10
  • Link: Official Site / Watch on SteamBuy From amazon

Don’t Starve might be developed by a relatively unknown indie company but it manages to get almost everything right and shows the big companies how it’s done. It is one of best iterations of a survival game I have ever played, and everything from gameplay to core mechanics is well thought out and works together beautifully.

At its core Don’t Starve is about staying alive for as many days as possible in an increasingly difficult and randomly generated world. The day and night cycle makes every day feel like its own game and the way the nights shake up the gameplay keeps you on your toes. Death in Don’t Starve is permanent, and you gain experience point based on how far you made it, which can be used to unlock new characters among other things.

You craft, sow, hide, and collect to survive and while the core premise is incredibly simple, this game is incredibly addictive. Don’t Starve might be cheaper than a triple-A game but it sure isn’t less in any other regard and you won’t find a better bang for your buck anywhere else.


Rust

In short: A true survival sandbox game with a focus on crafting, base-building and player-versus-player combat.

Offical rust game wallpaper

  • Release Date: 2018
  • Platform: PC
  • Type: Open world survival sandbox game
  • Modes: Online Multiplayer
  • Steam Rating: 7/10
  • Link: Official Site / Watch on Steam

Rust was initially a clone of the very popular ARMA 2 mod, DayZ but has since grown into its own and has become one of the most fun online survival games on the market.

Rust is as pure a survival game as can be. You start with virtually nothing, and the first natural step is collecting resources to create a tool. From here you go on to explore the world, gather more supplies, scavenge and loot all the while managing hunger, thirst and general health. If you play your cards well and manage to stay alive, and perhaps make a few friends, you might end up quite powerful and with a base of your own and due to the slow progression system, it feels really meaningful once you have your own base set up.

The game’s focus on PvP is its strength, and while the experience can be tough on new players, it is well worth the effort once you make it past the initial grind. Joining a clan and creating a united base of operations and go on raids together is excellent fun and it is really where the game shines, as an online game that forces interactions with other players.

Note: We won’t mention DayZ in this article as Rust and DayZ is incredibly similar, but we feel Rust is the better game.


The Forest

In Short: Afer a plane crash you get stranded on a remote island inhabited by cannibals and must survive the hostile environment as you search for your son.

Screenshot from the Forest video game

  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform: PC, PlayStation 4
  • Type: Open world survival game
  • Modes: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
  • Steam Rating: 9/10
  • Link: Official Site / Watch on Steam

The Forest is a semi-horror survival game where your plane has crashed, and you end up on a remote island inhabited mainly by cannibals. The objective is pretty clear, survive while you try to locate your son who went missing after the plane crash.

The Forest has a unique take on the genre, and instead of mindless zombies, the game uses intelligent Cannibals, which makes The Forest a lot scarier than most similar games. The A.I is exceptionally bright, and it feels like every enemy has it’s own agenda and is also trying to survive, some are aggressive, some stalk you from a safe distance and some just tests you to see if you back down quickly.

The world is delightful to explore and has secrets hidden throughout it and even tells a very interesting story. Managing your survival through resources and a simple, yet engaging crafting system is also a lot of fun, but. However what sets The Forest apart is its intelligent A.I as it makes the island’s inhibitors feel alive and draws you into the world and story.


7 Days to Die

In Short: Gather resources and prepare by day, fight with tooth and claw to survive through the night. Will you make it past day 7?

screenshot from pc game 7 days to die

7 Days to Die’s premise is as addictive as it is simple. You drop down in a randomly generated part of Arizona where you have to fight to survive by gathering resources, acquire nutrition, build a base, and ultimately prepare for the night. The day and night cycle in 7 Days to Die is entirely dynamic and changes the gameplay on a fundamental level. The daytime is quite a bit safer and is perfect for gathering resources, repairing your base and generally preparing for what’s to come, where the nighttime is just about surviving.

The title of the game refers to an event that happens every seventh in-game day, where a vast horde of zombies will attack you at your current location and if you have not prepared this will likely be the end for you. The anticipation of the night time and especially this event is really what makes 7 Days to Die such a fun and addictive game and making it through day seven feels like a legitimate accomplishment.

The game is great as both a singleplayer and multiplayer experience, while I generally find it a bit more fun to play with friends it is entirely possible and plausible to spend countless hours in the singleplayer mode.


The Long Dark

In Short: A sandbox survival game based in realism that somehow manages to tell a gripping story.

Screenshot from the Long Dark game

Hinterland Studio managed to do something truly unique and impressive with The Long Dark, and that is telling an excellent story in a sandbox styled survival game. The world looks beautiful, and the stylized art style makes sure that it will remain so for many years to come. You can play the game in two ways, fully sandbox survival or survival campaign mode. Both I would recommend but I’d say that the campaign is a must play if you end up getting the game.

The survival aspect of the game is as good as the story, and you genuinely feel the urgency of your characters needs when playing. You feel the stress of slowly succumbing to the cold, you feel the need for food, and water and you feel the fear when wolves roam the nearby territories. The survival system is incredibly deep, and you really need to work to stay alive.

Despite being one of the least realistic in regards to the graphics art style, The Long Dark’s entire gameplay is based in realism and in some way that makes you more immersed in the world. You won’t find any zombies in this game but don’t worry, once you are playing it the wildlife is more than scary enough. So if you are a fan of the survival genre or just like a good story, The Long Dark is definitely for you.


This War of Mine

In Short: A reversed war game where you play as the civilians, struggling to survive as their city is under siege.

screenshot from This war of mine PC game

The premise of playing as a regular civilian instead of an elite soldier might turn off some people, but it is no coincidence that This War of Mine is among the very best rated games on Steam. This exciting story puts you in the shoes of the civilians of a city during war times where the lack of food, medicine, and warm clothes are highly lacking. In order to survive, you will have the civilians work together and always be on the watch to avoid the gaze of enemy soldiers.

Very few games have ever told as a touching and gripping story as This War of Mine, and it’s told with such fluency and cooperation with the gameplay that it almost feels like an interactive movie. Once again an indie company shows that you don’t need a Triple-A game to tell a Triple-A story and that is precisely what this game is, an excellent story that is being pushed forward by the players will to survive.

Whether or not you are a fan of survival games or not I would highly recommend this gem of a game. If you are hesitant due to the art style or gameplay, I would very much encourage you to lay your prejudice aside and give it a go.

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