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The Survivalist Review


Developer: Team17

Publisher: Sold Out Software

Reviewed on: PS4

Also available on: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC

Release: 9th October 2020

Rating: PG

Price: $24.99


Team17 has come in hot with their new top down adventure called The Survivalists that is set in The Escapists universe, their previous series. The Survivalists puts you on a deserted island with nothing but a broken raft, your wits and your will to survive.


The crux of the game is to use tool like an axe or a multi-tool craft items and build structures to increase your chances of staying alive. This core set of mechanics may seem reminiscent of Minecraft in recent years but here, there’s more of a straightforward feel to it as well as a greater sense of progression. Exploration is a massive part of this adventure as there are a vast number of caves and dungeons to discover filled with rare loot and tough enemies. Additionally, you will find groups of creatures to fight among other things such as totems and treasure chests.

Chests can be found by utilising treasure maps or simply by stumbling into them on your quest. There’s no need to worry about running out of resources in a particular area while searching for chests because the island will periodically replenish itself.

The art style is quite similar to The Escapists’ retro aesthetic though we can see greater detail and more use of a 3D-esque perspective. The elements are layered on top of one another to give off a much smoother gameplay experience which visually differs from games like Stardew Valley and the like.

The music in this game is incredibly soothing. Upon loading in, players are met with a slow, retro-sounding theme that’s very fitting with the island setting surrounded by the waves of the sea. Even when danger looms, this peaceful soundtrack makes this quite a relaxing experience from the get go. Going into direct combat yields a sound that’s much quicker in tempo but still befitting to the island theme all the same.

A new and prominent feature that they’ve added is the ability to train monkeys to help you out on your journey. They can gather materials, build walls or simply mimic the actions of the player character. Though the feature works well, the tutorial isn’t as clear as it maybe could have been in conveying the way that the monkeys are used.

I found myself fumbling around trying to have the monkeys build a furnace but to no avail. It wasn’t until going over the tutorial notes again that I learned that the monkeys first needed specific tools manually equipped by the player for them to begin.

This may have gone over my head as a fault of my own, but I do feel that, if I missed such an important detail that easily, then it maybe could have been made just a little more clear or perhaps made automatic that a monkey be equipped with the right tool should it already be in your inventory. Other than that, the mechanic is great.

The UI has been implemented seamlessly into the controls as far as the PS4 version is concerned. Each command is tied to the press of a face button, while the small menus for crafting only require a hold of a shoulder button.

The commands for most actions are clearly displayed on screen and I never found myself at a complete loss as to how I was meant to carry out most actions, even from the beginning. It wasn’t long before I was able to quickly accomplish tasks without much thought.

Another thing I noticed is that there isn’t a cursor to move around using the analogue sticks. It’s a welcome omission that is all too frequent in other games that are well suited for PC but often poorly transferred to a controller.

The gameplay overall is relatively simple but with only one thing occasionally limiting my enjoyment. Every few steps, I’d seem to come to an immediate stop because I would run into a bush, rock or tree because they would often be obscured by other bushes, rocks and trees.

The issue isn’t that the island is too dense, it’s that it can be challenging to figure out how to walk around when you simply can’t see the obstacles in front of you. It can make getting from A to B a bit tedious if you’re not feeling too patient.

The combat is pretty straightforward. You see an enemy, you hit the enemy with a club or a sword and you’ll get some loot. Some enemies will vary in difficulty but more or less go down swiftly using the same strategy. You have the option to just whack everything you see or keep your distance and shoot with a bow.

The game also features co-operative play. Though I didn’t get a chance to use this feature, I did get a rundown of how it all works. Players are able to visit other islands and to enjoy all the spoils and danger they bring. Bases and equipment can be built and traded while players are also free to explore. To reach another island, you’ll need to craft a new raft. These aren’t too difficult to make but you will need to spend a bit of time gathering resources and learn the right recipes.

Overall, The Survivalists is a relaxing and joyful game to play. You’ll spend hours on an island with the freedom to make of it what you wish. The visual aesthetic is pleasing, the music is soothing and the gameplay, despite some traversal hiccups, is very rewarding at its core. If you’re a fan of this type of sandbox genre, this game is surely for you.

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