The 21 best survival games available for computers
If you watch survival reality or made-for-TV shows and you’ve felt that need, that drive to test your own limits and see how you yourself would fare in a similar situation, then you do have an option that doesn’t really revolve around buying copious amounts of bug repellent, sleeping on a cold plastic bag and carrying Swiss army knives: survival games!
The best part of this type of game is the vast array of experiences available. That’s right, you’re not limited to the jungle setting, you can also try your luck on an underwater alien scenario or even the zombie apocalypse! Check out our list down below for our picks for the best survival games on computer platforms.
Note: You’ll notice this list is missing Minecraft, but that just because we already have so many articles about Minecraft, it just didn’t feel very fair!
Read also: 20 best simulation games you can play on PC!
1. Resident Evil 7
Unarguably one of the trailblazers for the survival horror genre that cemented it among the pantheon of the most diverse types of games, Resident Evil is at its best when it plays to its original premise: horror all around you, scarce resources, can you survive?
Released in January 2017, the latest mainline entry in the series generated a lot of fuss for being a throwback to the original games while also setting brand new mechanics that would stay with the series going forward. The result of this mix was acclaimed not only by critics, but also by the audience, taking its spot as the best game of that year for a lot of people. Would you be able to survive the strange and dangerous house of the Baker family?
Get rich or die trying… in the 25th century! Astroneer is a game focused on the exploration of planets, there to be mined for their riches. Allowing up to four players simultaneously in cooperation, you’ll be able to build bases, terramorph the planets, estabilish digging sites that do all the way to a planet’s core, among others.
Sure it’s not all easy, as you’ll have to deal with the hostile environment of every planet you set your feet on, but hey try to keep that fortune in mind!
One of the weirdest survival games out there, RimWorld spent quite some time in early access before having a full release on steam with critical acclaim. The game has a randomly generated narrative, which means that every single game is different from the other due to a lot of randomness.
Every run, you’ll assume the control of three survivors of a space accident that must survive in a strange and hostile planet. Each one of them has a different set of skills, and a flaw that drives them unable to do certain kinds of things. A farmer specialized in plantation and food gathering will not be able to be designated to research and development, for example. RimWorld is a great pick for people who are looking for survival with a side of micromanaging.
Maybe the definitive true survival experience in games. Without even having any clothes on, you are thrown into this island all you really have at the beginning is a rock. From then on, you’ll need to face problems like hunger, thirst and cold to survive, making it so you’ll need to be on the move from the moment you open your eyes up until you logoff, and even after logging off you are at risk of being raided by other players.
Rust spent a lot of time on early access, but it was eventually release to a very active user base that still plays to this day on stable servers. Besides trying to find ways to survive, new weapons, food and even a home to call your own, you’ll be required to interact with other players, who may become allies or try to hunt you down. Or both. A must for survival games’ fans that appreciate a down-to-earth, classic experience.
5. The Culling
In a mix between Rust and the Hunger Games series, The Culling also throws the player in an island in the middle of nowhere with the sole objective of surviving and being the last man standing. Naturally, this means that alliances are volatile since in the end there can only be one. A good pick for those looking for an intense pvp experience. Oh, and the arena gradually diminishes too, to make it so it’s easier to run into other players, so… there’s that. Good luck!
6. The Forest
As the sole survivor of plance accident, your character finds themselves on a lost forest, needing to first and foremost find a way to fend off the dangers brought forth by mother nature herself. Since that’s a little too easy, apparently, there’s also a mutant cannibal tribe coming for you, waiting to get a drop on you at any moment, making it so you’ll need to run away, hide or arm yourself to the teeth so they will become the hunted.
A roots survivor experiences with great tinges of horror.
7. 7 Days to Die
Well, the game that starts with the number 7 naturally has to appear of the 7th position on the list. It’s the rules. 7 Days to Die also brings the horror present in other entries in this list. In a world taken over by the zombie apocalypse, your task at hand here is to live and not end up becoming zombie food.
As an online game, you’ll also have the option to interact with other players and form alliances… or use them as zombie bait. You know, whatever catches your drift, I’m not judging.
With a much greater focus on hostile environments, Subnautica takes the player to visit the underwater depths of an alien world. Your objective here is to survive in this new world, found by an accident regarding your spaceship. And then the ocean becomes the best place to find resources and colonize the planet and its underseas life-forms.
Subnautica is unique in its atmosphere and scenario, delivering a fresh experience that feels, at times, very peaceful, and other times… well… how do you feel about the vast emptiness of the ocean and whatever lurks there?
9. ARK: Survival Evolved
With a vibe very close to Rust, ARK: Survival Evolved also has no qualms about leaving you in your birthday suit in the middle of nowhere. Other elements are also here, such as the necessity to find shelter, food and clothing to survive the cold.
Its main differential regarding other games is that there’s dinosaurs on this land, which might be captured, tamed and trained. Mechanics that allows you create your own farms and form communities are also found here and in a fairly more elaborate and complete version when in contrast to other games in this list. Definitely one to check out, even more so for those who have been missing a good game with dinosaurs in it.
10. Dead by Daylight
What makes Dead by Daylight an unique experience among survival games as a genre is that one of the players takes the role of the monster hunting down the other survivor players. The difference here is that’s no way they can defend themselves against an unstoppable monster.
All four will have to act together and join forces to make it so the monster loses their trail and eventually loses them for good. Each stage is procedurally generated, which means that no map is the same as the others, and this makes the game fairly replayable, since your tactics are going to need to be readdressed every time you load into a new game.
A great throwback to old horror movies, this one should appeal to the classic horror fans that miss the simple days of Jason chasing teenagers in Crystal Lake.
11. Osiris: New Dawn
Looking for a new planet to colonize, the Osiris expedition travels the universe thanks to a new propulsion technology, allowing for greater interstellar speeds. Much like Subnautica and RimWorld, this journey results in an accident, destroying your ship and stranding you in an unknown hostile planet.
You’ll need to work side-by-side with other players and assemble a central base while also expanding your presence in this planet, facing bad weather conditions and feral creatures that roam around the world. It’s best part tends to be the graphics, comparable to a lot of big games out there. Check it out if you are a fan of space adventures!
With a futuristic thematic, but a retro approach – both in graphics and mechanics -, Starbound is a 2D open world game that captures that space fantasy magic. As you are running away from your recently attacked planet, your ship was damaged and needs to land in an uncharted planet.
In this game, you can choose between 7 different character races with their own perks, besides being able to customize their looks to suit your style. Exploring the world, you may also repair your ship and eventually brave new worlds that tend to be very different from each other with different biomes. Go forth, and find out the secrets of the Starbound galaxy!
Moving away from survival games inspired by science fiction and migrating to medieval fantasy, Stonehearth will ask you to guide a small band of colonizers in an unexplored location. You’ll need to build, keep and expand a city, trying to keep the population’s needs in check while also conquering the place.
The bigger your city gets, the more attention it will draw to itself, so be careful of who will be coming your way.
14. Stranded Deep
Much like the movie “Castaway”, in Stranded Deep you are the lone survivor of a plane crash and you end up isolated in an unknown island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Every new game will have you in different island than the one before, making sure it will always be a somewhat fresh experience.
You’ll also naturally need to pay attention to your human needs, such as food and sleep. It is possible to combine and create new objects, building huts and even boats to try and tap those ocean resources. Just be careful with the sharks!
15. 60 Seconds!
Similar to Fallout Shelter and created by an independent studio, in this game you have only 60 seconds to find your family members and survival items to enter your shelter in order to not get hit by a nuclear detonation. The game doesn’t end there: after the apocalypse, you’ll need to manage your family and the items you brought.
This situation will force you to make some tough decisions, like saving food or even leaving your family members without lunch for a day.
With an approach that emphasized adventure and exploration more so than survival, Terraria is one of those survival games that reached worldwide success, while also being an indie darling. With a procedurally generated world and excellent pixel-art, the game allows you to explore, fight enemies and build to your heart’s content.
Terraria is truly impressive in its scope, with over 800 items, great community support and varied gameplay options.
17. Far Cry 4
One of the chief franchises of Ubisoft, Far Cry 4 is less about survival and more about shooting, but it is still considered by many as a survival game due to its setting. Taking place in the Himalayas in the fictional country of Kyrat, your enemy will be the dictator called Pagan Min.
Your character visits the country as his mother’s last wish and ends up being caught in a civil war to remove the dictator. The greatest asset here is its extensive world, with a rich wild life, with leopards, hawks and even elephants, among others. Its main strength is the liberty given to the player on their approach to complete the available missions.
18. Don’t Starve Together
A famous one among survival games’ enthusiasts, Don’t Starve Together has a scientist brought to a strange new world by accident, with quite the sad and shadowy atmosphere. In this strange world, the scientist must collect resources to feed himself and build his own shelter to spend the night, when the creeping darkness is at its highest.
If you can’t even manage a bonfire by the end of the day, you will likely lose and will have to restart. The game has a prolific cooperative multiplayer scene, with a lot of passionate players.
19. The Long Dark
One of the best art directions in this list, The Long Dark places the player in a cold, isolated region. Different from other entries, there are no other players, zombies, spaceships or other supernatural threats.
The objective here is to make you feel lonely and if you were there, with your one and only enemy being nature itself. The Long Dark proves that you don’t need the supernatural to create a terrifying atmosphere in one of the best among survival games.
There’s plenty of scare stuff out there, in places unseen and barely lived in. Do you think you can face the coldness of The Long Dark?
20. Far Cry Primal
Different from Far Cry 4, this title forsakes present times and goes straight to olden times. The Stone Age, to be specific! Instead of assault weapons, the player will be required to use spears, slings and bows to hunt down savage beasts, like the sabretooth tiger.
Being the last survivor of your tribe, the your role as the player is to unite the human race, while also facing off against another tribe that dominates the region of Oros.
21. V Rising
Have you ever wanted to be a vampire? V Rising puts you in the shoes of a recently awakened vampire who has to fight for their life to survive and grow more powerful in a world where animals, vampire hunters, supernatural creatures and even the sun will try to kill you.
V Rising has a neat progression system, multiple weapons for you to choose from and even features base building! Your refuge will be a critical part of your success in this world, so make sure to build accordingly.
It’s worth mentioning that this game is made by the same team as Battlerite, so you know you can expect tight gameplay and very responsive controls that will gel in a sort of gameplay that will reward your mechanical skills and decision-making.
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Would you recommend us any survival games?
Now it is up to you: have you ever played any of these games? What did you think about them? Is your favorite title missing from this list? Tell us so down below and share our recommendations with your friends, after all, some of these are best enjoyed in a group!