Surviving Survival Games

Forgive me for that title. Let’s talk about survival games.

Survival games are pretty neat. In the past few years alone there have been a number of survival games that have come out as a sub-genre of horror but I’m mainly going to focus on The Forest and The Long Dark.

Both games throw the player into extreme situations, ironically in vastly different settings: The Forest is set on a forested island while The Long Dark is set in Northern Canada. Both games throw you deep into the wilderness after you survive a plane crash. After that, you’re on your own.

The Long Dark: A bed, a stove, and a rifle. Exactly what I needed.
The Long Dark: A bed, a stove, and a rifle. Exactly what I needed.

Finding shelter and food are usually my top priorities in these games. In the Long Dark especially, the elements are the real danger. I’ve often died out in the snow while playing that game. The game factors warmth, hunger, and thirst while you explore the area, slowly filling up like a warped version of The Sims. Hunger and warmth also factor into the Forest, but are less central. The Forest focuses more on mobs than on braving the weather.

Enemies do exist in both games, but The Forest uses them more fully. The island your plane crashed on is populated by tribal, mutant cannibals. They aren’t fully explained just yet, but they’re certainly a scary bunch. They don’t attack, not immediately anyways. Iv’e often seen them skulking at the edges of my campsite, looking towards me before running back into the forest. It does wonders for building suspense. Meanwhile, The Long Dark has wolves and bears that usually just hunt deer and rabbits, but will turn on you if you get too close.

Chances are you're being watched at all times while playing The Forest
The Forest: He doesn’t want to be your friend…

The tricky thing with these games is that there’s not much room for set narrative. Most of the experience comes from organically emergent gameplay, something I might write about in the future. Truth be told, the games can also get a bit boring when you find out how to effectively play the game. It’s possible to survive dozens of days in the Long Dark simply by sleeping and foraging over and over.

What do you think? I’ve definitely left out game such as Rust or Day Z, which I have not yet played myself. There’s also survival horror games such as Amnesia or Outlast, which focus more of the horror aspects. Comment below!

6 thoughts on “Surviving Survival Games

  1. As someone who’s been eyeing a few survival games but hasn’t yet gotten to play one, I really enjoyed your introduction into the two games. The idea of a “warped version of The Sims” interests me so maybe I’ll start with The Long Dark!

    1. Thanks! To clarify, the Long Dark has meters that measure your hunger, thirst, warmth, sleep and so on. I mentioned the Sims due to the red and green coloring that appear in both of these games as an indicator of how urgently you should satisfy your need.

  2. I hadn’t heard of either of these two before I read the article (I may or may not have been living under a rock), but they definitely sound interesting, and I’ll be sure to give them a try soon! Have you played Sir, You Are Being Hunted by any chance? It’s pretty much a steampunk survival game on crack where your enemies are gentleman-hunter robots with elaborate mustaches and shotguns.

    1. I’ve had my eye on that game for a while. It was recently released as a full game, right? I may have to pick it up at some point!

  3. I actually very much appreciate the lack of a set narrative, I think survival sandbox games like these are fantastic for playing a few hours at a time without needing to invest yourself in a plotline.

  4. I can’t remember what my longest run was playing The Long Dark. As you said, once you get the basic game play, the rest is fairly elementary. It becomes more of a question of what NOT to do and how effectively you can NOT do those things and for how long. But, after a while, it does start to get boring.

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