Winter Survival Simulator

I love survival games. Even piss-poor, by-the-numbers entries in the genre can catch my attention, at least for a little bit. I enjoy managing the various meters or gauges that make continuous demands of the player, while also endlessly collecting and scavenging for resources — these are things my gamer brain simply cannot ignore whenever they’re on offer. I tend to prefer a more natural or realistic take on survival, however, so for games like The Forest or even Green Hell, adding in freaks or just cannibals can be one step too far for my tastes.

I simply prefer being tasked with surviving nature itself, finding a balance or harmony with the world at large, and beating the path of survival for as long as I can. This is what The Long Dark does so well (the survival mode more so than the story mode): simply dropping you into a remote part of the world with little to no resources and requiring you to forge your path to survive just one more night. 

I enjoy survival games set in harsh, unforgiving worlds like frozen forests and tundra environments. I can’t explain it other than to say that I flock to the idea of having to survive in cold, unwelcoming game worlds with nothing but the tools and items I find along the way.

And that brings me to Winter Survival Simulator. Although the game’s demo has a more mission-based narrative structure, at least early on, those missions are pretty much just a tutorial to get players started and acquainted with the game and its systems, while allowing for a decent amount of freedom to explore beyond the beaten path.

Winter Survival Simulator

So how does Winter Survival Simulator stack up on the survival-game-o-meter? Well, honestly, it is sitting pretty close to the sweet spot, with room to only improve from here. The systems I enjoy are all in place and seem well-balanced, and there are a number of things that actually surprised me along the way.

But first, let’s tackle the biggest question: will you be cutting down trees?

Yes, of course you will be cutting down trees. This is a survival game after all. I will say, though, that even though it isn’t as forgiving as Icarus: First Cohort, felling timber is far from tedious in Winter Survival Simulator. The same can be said of most of the elements I’ve experienced thus far. Crafting can be a bit of a grind, as I either have yet to figure out how to craft stacks instead of items piecemeal, or the option just doesn’t exist. But thankfully, at least in the early goings, I have yet to be tasked with crafting an inordinate number of items that would’ve made the current process feel like complete drudgery. And for the most part, crafting is pretty simple and intuitive. We’ll have to wait and see how deep the system will eventually go once the game gets further into development.

There is also a full-fledged cooking mechanic. Rather than simply roasting vegetables found out in the wild or cooking hunks of deer or rabbit meat, it looks like there will be recipes to gather that could give various benefits and buffs on top of filling the hunger meter, or at the very least will enable the player to cook more fulfilling meals. You also get more benefit from eating cooked foods instead of raw or cold items, with some cold items giving no benefit at all.

Winter Survival Simulator

In addition to cooking, you will have to maintain your thirst meter. The good news is, at least in the demo, you get a canteen that will give you access to fresh water, assuming you can source it in the wild. One really cool feature is that you can scoop up a handful of snow in a pinch and use that to quench your thirst, although this will decrease your warmth meter in the process. Since there is actually snow deformation in Winter Survival Simulator, it looks cool when you do it too. This also comes in handy for tracking where you’ve been in case you get turned around.

The demo has you setting up base in a semi-dilapidated cabin, which will require some repairs. It’s unclear if the cabin will be your only respite or if there will be others. I’m also not yet clear on whether or not it sustains environmental damage over time from the elements — or even if animals can damage it in an attack. But there is a full-on repair mechanic in the game that will require you to use planks of wood or pieces of fabric to restore the cabin. Doing so will offer more protection from the elements and give you peace of mind to enjoy a more restful sleep at night.

Some of that has to do with the sanity meter, which works similar to games like Green Hell. Everything from animal engagements to exhaustion to simply walking on slippery, icy slopes can deplete your meter. The more it wanes, the more prone you are to hallucinations, which over time will probably be more harmful than good. Although I wasn’t a fan of this in Green Hell, I find it a bit more judicious in Winter Survival Simulator. It’s a nice addition on top of already having to monitor thirst, hunger, warmth, and energy or stamina — at least in the early stages. I also like that you get to see the full stat list while sleeping to help you better manage your levels and avoid dying in your sleep from thirst or hunger.

Winter Survival Simulator

Overall, my initial impressions are pretty good. Unlike a number of more recent survival titles I’ve played and bounced off of, Winter Survival Simulator looks like it has a clear vision of what it wants to be, and for the most part it sticks the landing, even in these early days. This is very promising for the long haul. If you are a fan of the survival genre, I would suggest giving this one a glance.

With a Q2 2022 planned release for Winter Survival Simulator, the task of surviving long enough to be successfully rescued might arrive sooner rather than later.

A demo is available to download on Steam right now though for those that want to take it for a test run before the game launches.

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