The term "Survival Game" covers a lot of territory, and my hatred for them varies as well. For example, it could be argued that Fallout 76 is a survivor game, since there is a building component and a food and environment component. But it would be a very mild survival game. Even though you have to eat a full Chinese buffet every twenty minutes, the penalty for starving isn't death outright. It's sort of an annoyance-based game mechanic.
But there are some survival games that make me wonder what people enjoy about them. I have enough trouble keeping my real family fed and disease-free, I don't want to do it for casual fun. What is the appeal? Are there really that many masochists playing video games?
Below are some of the survival games I love to hate. This list is by no means comprehensive, and there are several I would like to play but haven't (and I know I will probably cry when I do play them).
This game is just mean. It's like the devs just really don't like players and wanted to show their disgust for them.
In Rust, the world is persistent and so are you. When you log off, your character goes to sleep on the ground where you were. There is no good spin on this. If someone walks along they will kill you and take your stuff and there is nothing at all you can do about it.
If you spend the time, you can build a fort (or in my case, a hut) and hope your defenses are sufficient to keep other players out while you sleep. Usually they aren't sufficient. You go to sleep in your nice stone house, doors locked, everything you worked for in chests. You log back in and your hut has been destroyed, you gear stolen, and your body cut up and turned into knives and hats. Awesome experience.
Other players are pretty toxic in this game. It's either naked guys who jump you with a shotgun, or someone across the map who snipes you with a high powered military rifle while you're trying to find enough cotton to make a pair of pants.
If you are considering this game, it might just be easier to save your money and punch yourself in the face. Sure, some people like it. Those people are probably serial killers. Yeah, I said it.
This game I enjoy, but I have a definite love-hate relationship with it. Which, as you probably know, isn't a healthy type of relationship. My first four characters died within an hour. One fell off a wrecked ship because I misjudged walking. The other three starved to death. I have two more characters that are still kicking. One keeps vomiting and losing water, so I have to stay near a water pump or I will die. The other one has blood damage that I'm waiting to regenerate. At one point I had to lie still for 30 minutes or I would pass out.
I hear there's more to the game than getting sick and hungry. I can't wait to see it.
The game is rough on new players, as nothing is explained. Will I ever stop coughing? What does it mean when my clothes are wet, and what can I do about it? If I don't have matches, how the God-Damn do I start a fire?
But what makes this game tolerable are the other players. Although I've heard that there are groups who will rob you, kidnap you, etc, I haven't gotten far enough to be worth robbing. I guess they see me armed with a rake and they aren't too worried. But the players I have encountered have been very polite. They ask if they can eat stuff that's near you, in case you've claimed it. They'll give you help if they can spare it. It's what I imagine a real dystopia would be like. Everyone is just trying to get by and no one wants any shit.
Because death means you lose everything. Scary incentive not to be a dick.
I grew up with graphics like these. I will not go back to them intentionally.
No Man's Sky
You need to build shelter to survive, but it's a very forgiving game as survival games go. Make sure you have a decent save, don't run out of fuel or ammo, and you can get out of most problems. It sucks to have to walk across an entire planet to get to safety, but at least no one is using your spleen as a bandana.
Are You Mental?
There are way more games than I have time to list, and if you are like most of my readers, you're almost done pooping and can't read much longer. So let me just say this:
Survival games drive me nuts, but I can see why some people enjoy them. They give you a feeling of control if you want to work for it. Grind hard enough, read enough walkthroughs, download enough apps, and you can get somewhere. In real life, even if you try your hardest, sometimes you still get Covid or laid off or 2% milk instead of soy milk. And if all else fails, plant a rake in someone's head and take their stuff. I get it.
But there's no story most of the time, building items is often nonsensical, timing is everything, and disease becomes annoying real fast. I already have that in my real life. I want a game where my bad decisions aren't permanent and my stupidity and lack of skills won't matter.
You know, Fallout 76.