The Survivalists review

By now, chances are you’re probably sick to death of island survival games. With new ones popping up on what feels like a daily basis across the Steam storefront and in particular the Early Access section, it is hard to believe there is anything players wouldn’t be able to survive at this point. Console players have even had their fair share of opportunities to explore dilapidated ruins on islands far away, or underwater caverns, albeit with a slightly diluted selection of titles available.

If there is someone, you would want to trust to freshen up the island experience then the guys over at Team 17 are certainly up there – especially if you look at their already established catalogue of hits such as Overcooked! or The Escapists.

Now, you can add The Survivalists to the list of enjoyable Team 17 adventures.

In terms of gameplay, The Survivalists bears a striking resemblance to that of Don’t Starve and the Team 17 published The Escapists series. The game begins with players dropped on a deserted and unknown island, in the middle of nowhere. There are no obvious objectives in sight initially, but after some plodding about and a bit of exploration, it is clear. You must survive, adapt, craft, and thrive in this new and unexplored land.

That is pretty much all you need to know in terms of story, as everything else beyond some hidden lore items is driven by the player.

Early on, players will be scavenging all manner of supplies to craft the basic items necessary to explore further. These items include an axe to chop through different things, a multi-tool to put items together once you have the basic ingredients required to make them, a club to swat things with and so on. The more items you build, the more blueprints you unlock to create better items. Then it is back to scavenging to find better items to create better equipment and on it goes in a loop, pushing the player to get that next best thing.

There are two key focus points to The Survivalists crafting mechanic. Crafting sees players make use of items on your person, with inventory items making up the components of what you can build instantly. The other option is Build mode, and this will see you lay foundations through blueprints which remain inaccessible until you have all the items necessary to build. Build mode is usually for planning items that require a lot more resources, such as furniture. Meanwhile crafting items are usually things you need to make on the fly.

Unlike other games with a similar gameplay focus, such as Ark: Survival Evolved, or Don’t Starve, The Survivalists takes a much more relaxed tone, with a calming soundtrack and very little stress as you go about surviving and building up your island camp.

There are threats of course, especially when entering into some of the games temples and labyrinth’s that await exploration, but even then, The Survivalist’s feels a lot more like an entry level survival title rather than a hardcore effort that will punish you at every opportunity. That much is emphasised further when you have an army of monkeys behind you.

Which brings me onto one of The Survivalists key features – The monkeys!

Monkeys are a great point to showcase the humorous side to the survival aspects of The Survivalists. Whilst it may take a few moments to gain the initial monkey trust, once you’ve charmed them with items they desire, they will soon band with you to form a tribe of sorts. With monkeys in hand, you are able to go about the island utilising them to do all sorts of monkey business, and by way of mimicking the player, you can get your band of monkeys to build for you, defend against enemies and go on the hunt for resources.

Once you have got to grips with controlling your primate army, you can roam a little more and prepare to conquer the lands further afield with multiple islands bringing in different challenges. These can include such things as geographical issues like mountains and swamplands, as well as varying wildlife of both the edible and adversarial type.

To get to these you will of course need to expand your building knowledge into that of vehicular design, with a boat transporting you from island to island – once you’ve gathered the necessities to create it of course.

A major positive for the game comes in the form of its multiplayer options with up to four players able to team up and go through the route of survival and exploration together. Multiplayer runs incredibly smoothly regardless of number of players. In general, playing with an extra friend or three does a great job of not only speeding up resource collecting but also makes the experience feel a lot more wholesome.

Meanwhile the host player holds control over the session and in doing so has the option to give as much or as little access to joining players as they wish. Someone joins your game and becomes a hassle; you can take their building privileges away. It is ultimately a positive online experience which is rarely seen in many games.

Overall and if you’re looking for a game that can bring the basic survival aspects but don’t quite want the pressures of near simulation or ‘realistic’ standards, then The Survivalists is the adventure for you. Whilst it must be said that things do begin to feel a little repetitive after a while, the overall experience is indeed a positive one. With a multiplayer that only strengthens an already capable experience when playing solo, this is definitely one to try if you want a stress-free co-op experience.

Is it the best survival title on Xbox One? Maybe not, but it’s not a bad way to spend a weekend in isolation or just a few gaming nights with friends.


  • Smooth and enjoyable multiplayer experience
  • Doesn’t take itself too seriously
  • Simplistic and easy to learn
  • Always something to build


  • The feeling of survival is lost with an army of monkeys behind you
  • Becomes repetitive

Overall Score – 3.5/5

Additional Information

  • Huge thanks to Team 17 for providing the free copy of the game 
  • Available Platforms – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC
  • Reviewed on – Xbox One
  • Release date – 9th October 2020
  • Install size – 879.4 Mb
  • Price at launch – £21.99

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