The Survivalists – Review
Follow Genre: Casual, Survival, Crafting
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Team 17, Sold-Out Software
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Tested on: PC

The Survivalists – Review

Site Score
Good: Cool monkey concept, nice graphics, accessible game
Bad: Does not balance the gameplay mechanics well. Limits you too much/AI should be better
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 6.0/10 (2 votes cast)

The survivalists is a game from the creators of The Escapists (Team 17). Supposedly, the game is even located in the same universe as The Escapists. You can play The Survivalists on your own or with multiple friends. And monkeys. A lot of monkeys. This is a game about monkeying around on an island with monkeys.


In The Survivalists you are ship-wrecked. As you wash up on the shore, you barely have anything and have to survive. However, survive? To be fair, it’s quickly noticeable that The Survivalists has a big cloud of casual gameplay hanging around it. This is instantly one of the biggest points of critique. While the story has an interesting premise, it doesn’t do much with it. You might feel the need to survive at the beginning, but it becomes apparent quickly that there’s no sense of imminent danger and this turns the game more into something as casual as Farmville. Thank God it doesn’t have those annoying waiting timers though, so you can just play to your heart’s content. A fun addition to the story is that monkeys on the island play a big part in your civilization and you can put them to work, though such features are only (slightly) explained in-game instead of using cutscenes and such.


The Survivalists might be located in the universe of The Escapists, but this isn’t really noticeable aside from the character design. It looks a lot better by now compared to when The Escapist was released, and character details got more room to breathe. The game has the allure of Stardew Valley combined with Don’t Starve, where especially the latter also comes back in the gameplay quite a bit. It’s a neat looking game with a lot of cute appeals thanks to the design of the environment and the characters. The HUD even hints at a game that’s accessible for all ages with its big and simple health/energy indicator.

Most of the information popping up on i.e. crafting possibilities is also clear and communicates well, though especially when training monkeys and using them to get some kind of system running for resources, the game sometimes feels lacking in what it expects from you or the possibilities you have. A fair argument is this is the mystery and curiosity that you will find in every crafting/survival game, but it simply could have been made a little bit better to understand. Some icons are just weird and a bit cryptic as an example, especially as the game seems to focus on all ages. Then again, the game has great aesthetics though, making them at least very enjoyable to look at.


The music used in The Survivalists is easy-going. It’s nothing really memorable by melody, but it’s atmospheric enough to float somewhere in the back while playing. The sound effects are a bit better and add something to the game, though for a lively island there could have been more. Menu effects and such are reminiscent of other easy-going games such as Stardew Valley as well.


For a game that has the word survival in it and key art that shows the player in terrible danger, The Survivalists seemingly contradicts itself with the gameplay. Sure, there are some tougher parts such as special vaults that you get to explore and survive, but the gameplay gets a bit weird while doing such things. Combat feels limited. Defending yourself and your base when needed feels equally limited. So if anything, the game has a casual game feel with some survival and crafting elements. The entire gameplay revolves around a gimmicky concept of collecting monkeys who you can put to work. You do so by kind of “recording” an action where the system recognizes a beginning and an end. When completed the recording, the monkey will repeat the action. The problem with this, like the combat, is that the recording option is limited to harvesting, completing a blueprint you put on the field, or combatting enemies. And the way this is done is rather cumbersome. It often feels like you might as well do something yourself instead of putting monkeys to work as the AI feels a bit sluggish and you need to give the monkeys the right tools which break.

When surviving normally as you try to build, expand, and maintain a base, the thing you will die of most easily will be starvation, and even this will be unlikely as there is generally plenty of food to be found. Food doesn’t go bad, and you don’t need that much to maintain yourself. The harvesting of resources is done with a few hits on rocks and trees, and building things is pretty accessible. If anything, The Survivalists feels like a toned-down version of Don’t Starve, with casual gameplay and base building that you can enjoy with people of all ages. At the same time, the mechanics just suck. There’s just something about the game that makes you want to love it, but everything feels dragged out and has been made overly complicated. It’s a weird design flaw that seems right but feels wrong. On top of that, when playing with others, each can have five monkeys. Playing like this feels chaotic.

The eventual goal is to escape the island(s) as you progress through multiple biomes on multiple islands. Perhaps the most annoying thing about the entire game while trying to get ahead is that you need a tool for each resource. An ax for wood, a shovel for mud, a bow for meat. Your space is very limited though, so especially early in the game, it’s ridiculous how little you can carry. It just feels like there’s a lot to improve or maybe completely overhaul in The Survivalists before it will get really enjoyable. An obvious bag upgrade would be a good start.


The Survivalists lures you in with the graphical appeal it has and softly whispers about how accessible the game will be because of this. Initially, the gameplay does seem accessible indeed, but you quickly discover the mechanics are overly complicated and there’s a lot that doesn’t feel smooth. Playing The Survivalists is pretty easy, yet doesn’t offer enough options to properly i.e. defend yourself and your base. It’s appealing, maybe even a little bit of fun, but weirdly flawed as well. In the end, the entire game is just one big complicated contradiction.

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Rating: 6.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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The Survivalists - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for since 2017.

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