Survivals games as a genre have blown up over the past few years.
Lucky for us that means there is no shortage of phenomenal games to keep us dying of thirst and hunger.
The best survival games not only test the player in their ability to sustain food and water but also have in-depth exploration, expandable base building, and beautiful scenery.
With so many great titles to choose from, which stick out as the best simulated survival games? We’ve put together a list of the of the most fun, challenging, adventurous, and exciting survival games for PC.
Based on an alien planet, Subnautica lets you explore a beautifully designed and mysterious underwater world. The main survival aspect of the game is not only sustaining food and water but also oxygen.
This demand for food and water means this isn’t just an underwater exploration game. It challenges the player to gather and manage the resources required to go out on long adventures exploring the various biomes, shipwrecks, and the deep unknown.
One of the coolest parts of this game is the base building. Not only is there a lot of variety in the different parts and buildings but they also look really cool. Craftable vehicles help you go further and deeper in search of new resources and creatures.
How deep can you go?
2. The Forest
The Forest is a horror survival game and a great one at that.
Picture this: your plane crashes, you’re the lone survivor, and you’re stuck in an area full of mutant cannibals fighting for your life.
Start off by chopping down trees, building a camp, scavenging resources, and getting ready to defend yourself against attacks. Build at day – defend at night.
The enemies are one of the most interesting parts of this game. They seem to have individual personalities, families, and quirks.
Even though The Forest is still in early access it’s already a standout game in the genre, and with a developer release schedule that’s looking to add a variety of content, it’s poised to be a great game for a while.
3. The Long Dark
If you’re looking for a hardcore survival experience, then The Long Dark is the game for you. It has both a story and a survival mode, both of which include a challenging winter environment and enemies that can do some serious damage.
In survival mode, you’re almost constantly driven by the need to find food, water, or warmth.
The artwork in the game is also incredibly well done. It doesn’t make an attempt at being ultra-realistic in terms of the design but the environment is both simple and beautiful.
4. 7 Ways to Die
7 Ways to Day is one of the most well-rounded survival games around. Set in a harsh and merciless post-apocalyptic world that’s plagued with the undead, surviving in this game demands keeping a constant supply of food, water, and weapons. Part first-person shooter and part zombie survival game, 7 Ways to Die is a fun and action-packed experience.
One of the great features of this game is the crafting.
There is are over 500 different recipes for various craftable items and world-building content that allow you to build up and progress through the game. If you’re on the hunt for a zombie apocalypse survival game, then 7 Ways to Die is definitely worth a shot.
5. Stranded Deep
Stranded Deep is one of the best island survival game around.
You’re stuck on a chain of deserted islands and need to gather resources, build a hut and raft, then explore the map looking for treasures and upgrades.
Once you’re set up and looking for a challenge, start hunting some sharks. Even after many hours of shark hunting, I still flinched every time I got dragged down.
While this game isn’t as polished as some of the other titles in this list, in terms of bang-for-your-buck it’s one you won’t go wrong with. Just watch out for the tiger sharks…
6 Ark: Survival Evolved
Ever thought a pet dinosaur would be awesome? Well, guess what? They are.
Ark: Survival Evolved a modern survival game set in the Jurassic era (sort of). Use materials to craft items and upgrades, tame and kill wild dinosaurs, and build a base to help defend yourself and stables your dinosaurs.
The base building in Ark is awesome. It’s a really unique style of base building and lets you create some really cool home bases.
The landscape in this game is beautiful and fun to explore, but the cave systems are where things get real. They’re big, they’re dark, and they’re scary. I’m talking sweaty palms and occasional screams.
Ark: Survival Evolved is the most demanding game on the list in terms of how good a computer you need to play. Be sure to check the minimum requires before picking this one up, but if you have a decent rig then you should be able to play on high graphics settings.
7. Dying Light
Dying Light is a first-person action survival game set in a vast city that was plagued by an epidemic.
Parkour your way through the city streets and rooftops as you scavenge for supplies, craft weapons, and take down hordes of zombies.
During the day you’re busy exploring new areas, gathering supplies, and evading zombies. But once the sun sets, shit heats up. At night the zombies are stronger and the higher level zombies come to roam. You’ve got to do whatever it takes survive until day bay-break.
Frostpunk is a steampunk colony survival game that forces you to make some difficult decisions along the way. Set in a front-bitten wasteland, nothing comes easy in this game.
As the city’s ruler, you’re tasked with gathering resources, building housing, hunting, and generating steam for heat. But the biggest challenge may not be the overwhelming cold – it’s the people. Maintaining order and hope in all seems lost isn’t as easy as it sounds.
And when the going get tough, you may have to prioritize survival over anything else.
- Will you enact child labor when you need more workers?
- Will you force people to work 24-hours a day?
- Will you enact radical treatment or long-term healthcare?
- What type of leader will you become?
“In a steampunk ice age, the only thing that can be crueler than the bitter cold are the decisions you have to make to keep your people alive.”
9/10 – IGN
9. Don’t Starve
Don’t Starve is a nightmare survival simulator from Klei Developers.
You start playing as Wilson, a fearless German scientist that has been sent to a dangerous and mysterious land. To survive you need to gather resources, build defences, make scientific advancements, and even use magic.
But don’t let your sanity get too low. That’s when the nightmares come to life.
One of the most interest aspects of this game is the artwork. Don’t Starve uses 2D characters and objects in a 3D world.
“Dig, fight, explore, build!”
Terraria is a special game. With seemingly endless possibilities, it’s a survival game the pushes your creativity like few others.
- Explore different biomes and cave system battling enemies and hunting for treasure.
- Build a home and with room for friends with interesting abilities.
- Battle special bosses and find unique weapons and armor
First, you’re a naked person with nothing. But then you spot a weapon. Now you’re a naked person… with a rock. While you could combine that rock with other materials to make a whole world of useful tools and resources. You could also just run around as a naked person with a rock attacking strangers.
Rust is online multiplayer-only survival game developed and published by Facepunch Studios and released in February 2018. What makes Rust unique is its game play. It’s adrenaline pumping, rage inducing fun – especially when played with friends.
12. Project Zomboid
Released in 2013, Project Zomboid isn’t a newcomer to the survival genre, but the developers continue to push out updates and new content regularly. This game is an open-ended zombie survival where you loot houses, build a fort, craft weapons, fight zombies, farm food in an effort to survive.
While the simple top-down design may not be as flashy as other zombie games, Project Zomboid is undoubtedly one of the best zombie survival games around.
13. State of Decay
State of Decay is a 3rd-person open world zombie survival game made by Undead Labs. It has everything you’re looking for in a zombie game:
- Dynamic open world
- Intense fights
- Customizable base
- Craftable weapons and resources
- Dangerous raids
- Rescue missions with unique rewards
You’re trapped in a dungeon, alone. And there’s no one around to help.
But there’s no hand holding or mission markers in this game.
Solve the puzzle, complete your escape, and begin your adventure in the sinister, ever-changing Darkwoods.
Darkwood is a top-down horror survival game made by Acid Wizard Studio and released in August 2017. During the day you can explore
While Astroneer doesn’t have the typical survival game challenges of finding food and water, it’s an adventure survival game where you battle treacherous conditions to explore new area and find rare objects.
Set on a distant planet in the far away future, you’re an astronaut with the tools to transform the land around you. Build a rover to travel around your home planet or a ships to travel to new worlds.
16. This War of Mine
In This War of Mine you aren’t a heroic soldier or elite sniper – you’re a band of civilians working together to fight against the odds. During the day you need to stay in cover by repairing your base, crafting, trading, and keeping everyone alive. But when night falls, lead one of the civilians on a daring mission to explore unique locations.
Along they you’ll face some tough decisions. Try to save everyone – or sacrifice a few for the greater good.
17. Sunless Sea
Captain a steamship and set sail for the Sunless Sea.
Sunless Sea is a unique and captivating exploration survival game with multiple awards. What makes this game special is the story telling.
The quality of storytelling is captured well in these reviews from Eurogamer and PCGamesN:
“Sunless Sea’s method of storytelling isn’t unique, but it has never been realised with such impact and elegance.”
10/10 – Eurogamer
“Absolutely the best writing in any video game since, well, as long as I can remember.”
10/10 – PCGamesN
While your captain will eventually die – everything gets passed on to the next generation and the story continues.
More than just Terraria in space, Starbound is a complex and entertaining side scroller that will keep you on your toes for hours.
One of the best parts about this game is that you create your own story. Follow the heroic path, become a colonizer of worlds, explore dangerous caves, or go the more peaceful route and farm the land. It’s entirely up to you.
Pathological. Obsessive. Compulsive. Crazy.
Pathologic can be described as a “psychological horror adventure survival role-playing video game” or in other words – it’s crazy.
While there’s just one storyline, it takes places from the perspective of 3 different players: Bachelor, Haruspex, and Devotress. Your goal is simply to survive while uncovering some unexpected secrets along the way.