I’ve had Survivalist on my list of games to play for a little while now. I bought it after Fallout 4 was announced to try and cover the nuclear apocalypse sized hole in my heart, but always assumed it was the type of game that would require a significant investment of time to play and enjoy it, so I kept putting it off until I could put a good few hours into it. I finally found a few spare hours to enjoy the game, and was able to begin my trek around the apocalyptic wasteland presented to me in Survivalist.
I was fairly excited when I loaded it up, half because of the apocalyptic wasteland theme, but half because I haven’t had the time to really sink into a game and really get into it lately, and Survivalist looked as though it would provide me with that enjoyment. I did not leave the game in disappointment, either. Considering the game is only £4, it has a surprising amount to do. They’ve set out for the whole survival theme and absolutely nailed it, and for someone fond of scavenging and finding every bit of loot available, it was thoroughly enjoyable. You’re not alone in this world though, as you’ll be able to find various humans along the way that can join your party and help you – and themselves – survive.
It’s not just the scavenging that was so enjoyable though, there’s a lot more crammed into the game to help you survive in a relatively realistic manner. For instance, a short while after you begin, you meet a man who has the tools required to help you build your own base. This is something I’m definitely all for. I loved it in Unturned and I love it here, being able to build even just a perimeter around a safe spot to keep zombies out is always something that’s worth doing and surprisingly enjoyable. There’s also the need to keep your characters healthy and happy, with them all needing the essentials – food, water and sleep – but some characters may also have additional needs. The second character you meet fits that profile, as she is a diabetic, and scavenging for insulin is the only way you can help her survive. They both add so much to the game even though they’re relatively small parts of it. Finding a big store of useful items is always fun, but when your allies are on the verge of death and you manage to get a cache of water just in the nick of time – that’s where the fun is.
The game comes with a fairly decent UI – the majority of the screen is taken up with the game screen, with four panels on the right hand side showing you the player, a mini map, the player’s status, and a video pane. The video pane normally sticks to being the current character’s face, but when you’re talking to someone, or you’re involved in a fight, it’ll switch to show a different perspective of what’s happening on the game screen. It’s not something I frequently found myself looking at, but it is pretty nifty nonetheless.
I did say it was a fairly decent UI, and it does have one massive drawback that I really found irritating. As you play, you only get a very small sight of what lies around you – which is fine, and does add a bit of realism – but you can’t alter the angle of the camera at all. It’s fixed in the same position throughout the game, which can lead to some really unexpected zombie attacks as they really are able to pop up from nowhere to attack you. It wouldn’t take much to actually allow for different angles to be used in the game, especially as you are already using the mouse for shooting, so not actually having this feature is at first disappointing, but quickly becomes frustrating.
Combat in the game isn’t particularly great either. At the start you’re given a gun to shoot, which is horrifically inaccurate, even if you’re standing right in front of an enemy. Zombies will likely come out of nowhere to chomp on you as you wander through the world as well, so not being able to aim becomes incredibly irritating. It’s not just the fact that your characters are as proficient with a gun as Bowser is at kidnapping princesses, but the fact there is very little tactics employed when fighting an enemy. You can kill pretty much anything by shooting, then sidestepping, then shooting again until it’s dead. It’s fairly disappointing that this aspect of survival is done so poorly when others are done so well.
There’s a lot to love about the game, it plays well, has decent survival aspects and will keep you entertained for hours upon hours. It does have its drawbacks, the combat being a particularly disappointing one, but it is still a game well worth playing, and for £4, you could do a lot worse than Bob the Game Development Bot’s offering.