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Backlog Impressions | The Survivalists

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We’ve all played that desert island game with friends where you say what five books, or what five items from your garage you would want to bring with you, or you know, would you drink your own pee if you had to? I guess that’s not really part of the game, but would you? I mean, do you really want to be the shipwrecked survivor that’s discovered sipping on the forbidden yellow cocktail? It’s a conundrum I truly hope to never have to struggle with! Anyway, I always thought my answers were pretty clever and outside the box, until I played The Survivalists that is. Now it would be monkeys. Give me monkeys and I’ll survive like the dickens, just you watch!

I say that because in the Survivalists you’re basically some unnamed unfortunate who ended up floating in the ocean after a plane crash. You drift up onto a beach and from there your weird, wonderful, and monkey filled journey begins. You’ve gotta craft, build, cook, explore, and battle your way back to civilization, but did this game tap into my survival instincts or just plain tap me out with yet another grind-fest?

My son was binge watching some DanTDM videos on YouTube one day, as he tends to do when left to his own devices, and apparently Mr. DanTDM had been granted early access to The Survivalists. I hadn’t been paying attention to the video since he’s typically just playing Minecraft or Roblox, but once I noticed he was playing something entirely different, something that looked pretty darn fun, I started to pay attention!

It looked right up my alley as far as maintenance/sim type games go, so I threw it on a wishlist and impatiently waited for the day us un-promoted plebs would have access to it.

All the big players are ready and present in The Survivalists. You can chop wood, break stones, hunt/tame animals, farm vegetables, find treasure, complete puzzles, and explore temples. What this game does differently however, is it removes a huge portion of the atypical grind. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to have to trudge out into the wilderness and gather your materials, especially at first, but you will eventually happen upon your first monkey pal and that’s where things change big time. Essentially anything you can do, a monkey can do as well. All you have to do is teach them how and give them the necessary tools. 

You can set a monkey to a task and they will endlessly continue to do it until their tool breaks. Or you can teach them to gather anything gatherable within a certain radius, which is honestly the best thing ever. Once I recruit enough monkeys I will always have a few set up to gather and they will grab anything they can and EVEN ORGANIZE IT INTO A CHEST!!!! They’ll also level up the longer they stick with a task. They’ll craft faster, chop faster, be able to gather more items at once, or beat the crap out of anything that dares come near you with increasing alacrity. They’ll even become better at things than you, given you don’t really level up your skills. 

So what do you do once you have a whole team of monkeys at your disposal to do the grunt work? Well, your job is to go exploring. You’ll uncover vaults which will always have a new monkey friend inside along with tons of sweet loot. You have to conquer all of the four big temples as well. Traverse their depths to obtain a much needed treasure if you are ever to make a boat strong enough to weather the storm that’s keeping you trapped. There is a huge map to unveil so you’ll have plenty to keep you busy!

The Survivalists is a game that was made by people who are clearly connoisseurs of sim games and know exactly the types of things that become annoying or tedious. Problem solved! 

One thing that definitely dulls that shimmery monkey shine a bit is that if you ask them to craft for you they can only make one thing at a time. You have to sit by and feed in the ingredients each time, wait for them to craft, feed in the ingredients, wait for them to craft…. and if you are making a lot of something this gets old pretty quick. The idea of the monkey helpers was to save time so you can be doing other things, but this just more or less removes a step from the process. You still have to be present and participating. It would be nice to be able to set up a crafting station with a chest full of materials and set an item creation limit or something. Make the monkey crafting process similar to any of the other tasks where they will just do it until they can’t anymore.

One thing I love however is that The Survivalists has a defined ending. I’m really not a post game kind of girl so I don’t generally like when these types of games feel open ended. I’m not a fan of feeling like I’m just dropping it half finished when I get the urge to move on to something new. So keep the ending and definitely keep the added monkey shenanigans!

This is an easy recommendation to give to anyone who loves sim/maintenance games like Stardew Valley, Graveyard Keeper, Rune Factory, or Story of Seasons. It has all the classic mechanics with some major quality of life inclusions that make gameplay more like a tropical vacation than a deserted island displacement!

If you would like to try your hand at wrangling a barrel of monkeys on your very own shipwrecked adventure then you can find The Survivalists on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Steam.