The Survivalists is a new survival-adventure game from Team17. It is a spin-off of the popular Escapists games that involve breaking free from various prisons. As Team17 told me in a recent interview, they wanted to give players more of the life management aspects that people loved in The Escapists. They’ve done an excellent job, as The Survivalists is a wonderful sandbox with plenty to do. Whether you want to build a cool base, explore the islands, train your monkeys and automate production or battle through tough dungeons, there’s always an exciting way to pass time on the islands. Here’s my The Survivalists review!
As you might expect, the core of The Survivalists is surviving. You need to eat food whilst building up your base to defend against occasional goblin attacks. This core system is nothing new, similar to what you may have experienced in other survival giants like Minecraft and Don’t Starve. It has emulated this aspect well though, fitting in strongly alongside the greats. You can hunt animals, find berries and even fish to get food, whilst there are plenty of ways to develop your base as you find better resources. The idyllic island life is certainly possible, so if you want to just relax and find food to survive you can! But there’s so much more that makes The Survivalists great.
The Survivalists introduces one unique feature – Monkeys. They are undoubtedly the key to this game, as they allow the player to have much more freedom. Monkeys are little followers you can recruit across the islands, usually by giving them a little bit of food or helping them break free from captivity. Once befriended, you can teach the monkeys to do almost anything that you would do. Chopping down trees, gathering food, cooking, crafting and even combat can all be taught, allowing you to automate many systems in the game. This allows you to leave base and explore the rest of what the game has to offer, safe in the knowledge that you aren’t going to return home to empty chests.
This Monkey Mimic system is sure to provide players with lots of hours of experimentation. Indeed, I’m sure tinkering around with it to see the various possibilities will be a source of hours of joy for some. For others, this will allow you to leave the menial tasks of chopping trees and gathering food to your followers. With all that spare time, there’s plenty more to do and see in the world of The Survivalists.
World of Adventure
Rather unexpectedly, The Survivalists isn’t just focused on surviving. The islands are ripe for exploration and adventure. Across the islands are various points of interest worth hunting down, the most exciting of which are the vaults. These are underground dungeons you can explore filled with enemies to kill. Clear each room to be rewarded with chests of loot and a new monkey follower to do your bidding. These combat-focused challenges are an excellent addition to the survival genre. They compliment the Monkey Mimic system perfectly, as you can explore the dungeons whilst knowing that your minions are hard at work upgrading your base, cooking you food or whatever else you set them to do. There’s still more to do if that doesn’t tickle your fancy. You can build a raft and take to the surrounding waters to uncover more of your map, complete quests for the shopkeeper and more. With so many tasks to choose from, and so many monkeys to do your bidding, it’s a case of divide and conquer.
Despite there being a wide range of things to do on the island, The Survivalists does run into some problems. The glaring one is that none of these tasks actually seem that pressing. Food is rather easy to gather, combat is a breeze once your monkeys have weapons and puzzles rarely take more than a few seconds to solve. This is, of course, completely subjective. For those looking for a light survival game, or as an entry-level title for the genre, The Survivalists shines. There are few challenges for survival veterans though, which can lead to the game feeling a little empty at times.
Tiresome Chains of Production
The Monkey Mimic system, although fun, does seem to take up a bit too much of the game’s focus. Sometimes you are forced into situations where using a monkey is necessary, even when the same thing is far less tiresome in other popular survival games. For example, your character’s inventory is very small, limited to just the hotbar slots on your screen. As you craft more tools to take on your trip, you’ll quickly want to expand your slots. There’s no backpacks or the like in the crafting menu though. After trying to figure it out for a while, I realised I’d have to craft a chest, teach a monkey to pick it up and then have the monkey follow me around carrying said chest. This is an interesting way to use the Monkey Mimic system, but it’s also needlessly tiresome. It’s a great option to have, sure, but it’d be far simpler to just have a backpack.
Another situation made frustratingly tedious is crafting, again thanks to the Monkey Mimic system. You can automate it with your monkeys, but often there will be a situation in which it is easier to craft something yourself. Maybe you don’t want to retrain a monkey as you only need the one item, or there are no monkeys nearby as they are off doing other tasks. Go to craft or cook what you need yourself and you’ll often be met with a very slow crafting time. Sometimes your character will even groan over the fact that the monkeys could be doing this same job as it takes so long. This is clearly lengthened to encourage using the monkeys, but that makes it annoying when you just want to do something quickly yourself.
The Survivalists Review Verdict
The Survivalists is a fun, albeit easy, addition to the survival genre. It adds exciting new aspects, the main one of which is the monkey mimic system. It’s a fun way to let the player automate aspects of the game in the spirit of avoiding menial tasks that often litter the genre, such as chopping trees and smashing rocks. However, it often leads to more tedium than it’s worth and leads to the same issue it’s trying to prevent. There’s plenty to do in The Survivalists though, with puzzles and combat-focused dungeons waiting to be found. That sense of adventure is a lot of fun, made even better by the fact that you’re monkeys are working hard in the background to make your island life a breeze.
What do you think of my The Survivalists review? Have you tried the game yourself? Let me know in the comments below or over on my social media! You can buy The Survivalists on Steam, Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch. If you want to see more from me, go follow me on Twitter and Twitch!
This game was reviewed on Xbox One with a code provided by the developer.
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