The Survivalists Feels Like Don’t Starve’s Kinder, Gentler Little Sibling

The Survivalists

I love Don’t Starve, but I acknowledge that it can be off-putting for players who are looking for a chill game with light survival elements. The permadeath feature makes one hesitant to take big risks, and a sequence of bad events can often stack up against you, leading to in inevitable failure. And don’t get me started on how needlessly brutal summers can be.

Still, Don’t Starve is one of those games that I return to often. Its survival mechanics are just so well-implemented and the art style is just so lovely that I can’t stay away for long.

However, if you’re interested in Don’t Starve but feel hesitant to conquer its steep and brutal learning curve, The Survivalists is one of the best alternatives on the market right now.

In my first 15 minutes of playing The Survivalists, I found myself in a situation where I was being attacked by bats at night without a weapon to fight them off with. I tried to retreat back to the beach where I had started (which is bat-free), but there were more bats between my character and safety, and I didn’t make it. My character was nibbled to death by flying beasts.

As a seasoned Don’t Starve veteran, I expected to head back to the menu and start a new save file. But alas, The Survivalists is not Don’t Starve. I respawned on the beach, though with an empty inventory. And it wasn’t even difficult to go back to the spot where I’d been mercilessly chomped to death, so I could retrieve all of my stuff and continue my journey deeper into the forest without too much hassle.

The Survivalists

The Survivalists is a forgiving game. Yes, there’s a meter that doubles as a health and hunger meter, and there’s a stamina meter (which regenerates quickly so long as you’re not pushing your character to their limits), but neither of these things is tricky to manage. There’s certainly no sanity meter, which is one of Don’t Starve‘s key features.

In Don’t Starve, you need to plan carefully. Your focus is generally on short-term survival rather than long-term goals like establishing a fortress. You might not live long enough to see your first wall completed, let alone an entire fortress. You have to tread carefully and learn the game’s various systems, and even then a swift death is usually lurking just beyond the next patch of grass.

In The Survivalists, however, you’re free to think about long-term goals. Dying might set you back a bit, but it won’t end a run completely. And this means you actually can focus on more time-consuming upgrades. You can even build a gigantic base for you and your monkey pals.

Neither of these approaches is objectively better than the other, but each one will attract a different type of player. If you like managing your micro-goals more, Don’t Starve is your ticket. But if you want to really make your world your own, carving out your own chunk of it across dozens of hours, The Survivalists is going to be the better pick.

The Survivalists

Personally, I enjoy both games. Despite being similar in a lot of ways, they’re actually quite different in how they focus your attention. And I definitely think there’s room in the market for both.

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