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Top 10 Survival Video Games

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Raphael Bennett Sometimes just figuring out how to survive is half the fun. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Survival Video Games. For this list, we’ll be looking for games that simulate resource and endurance management. Please be advised some of the games on the list are still in Early Access at time of writing, so be aware of that the footage you see may not reflect the final product. Special thanks to our user Devin Conboy for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Raphael Bennett

Top 10 Survival Video Games


Sometimes just figuring out how to survive is half the fun. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Survival Video Games.

For this list, we’ll be looking for games that simulate resource and endurance management. Please be advised some of the games on the list are still in Early Access at time of writing, so be aware of that the footage you see may not reflect the final product.

#10: "State of Decay" (2013)

Zombie games are a dime a dozen, but State of Decay blends harsh open-world survival with a lived-in world. Where State of Decay shines is in its ability to bring human stories and personalities to a great big open environment, all the while preserving the survival tactics and gameplay we love. The densely-crafted single-player world lets players find small stories in the environment, as well as explosive high octane situations. State of Decay channels everything you could expect from a zombie survival game into a package that’s both exhilarating and grounded.

#9: "Terraria" (2011)

Billed as a 2D Minecraft, Terraria gives players the tools to create countless worlds and explore near infinite space. The core difference with Terraria —aside from its looks— is that a big part of the game’s appeal is its traditional structure. With Terraria survival isn’t just about finding the resources to create your world, but making sure you have the right gear to tackle the game’s many boss fights. Terraria strikes an impeccable balance, it’s a wonderful survival game that lets you overcome obstacles with a friend.

#8: "The Long Dark" (2014) (Alpha Version)

Surviving The Long Dark is a grueling, up-hill struggle. Despite its gorgeous highly stylized visuals, The Long Dark is a realistic take on surviving the elements. In the frozen Northern Canadian wilderness, you’re forced to deal with wolves, snow, body heat, and even managing your caloric intake. Trudging through snowy hillsides, looking for a place to start a fire and warm up is core to the experience, and it is one of the most visceral and stressful survival simulations around. The Long Dark uses real-world obstacles to make its world feel threatening, and it’s incredibly successful.


#7: "The Forest" (2014) (Alpha Version)

The Forest blends survival gameplay with elements of survival horror, namely ghastly cannibalistic mutants. Creating immersive horror isn’t always easy, but The Forest manages to pack the island you crash-landed on with enough of the violent handiwork of its inhabitants to keep it intimidating. The game is also packed with small touches —like your character needing to lay out heir backpack to examine its contents— to make them feel vulnerable. The dynamic between balancing resources and staying clear of the frighteningly grotesque humanoid monsters is absolutely thrilling.

#6: "Don’t Starve" (2013)

Every minute counts and your goal is crystal clear; this is the core survival experience. Don’t panic, don’t fret, don’t fear … Don’t Starve. The game’s cartoon-y look, inspired by Edward Gorey, is deceiving. Don’t Starve is actually a tough-as-nails survival game that has you running around feverishly collecting loot to build up your campsite before the sun sets. After that it’s all about surviving day-by-day, crafting whatever you can to last another night. Don’t Starve is a deep game with rich mechanics and a great visual style.

#5: "This War of Mine" (2014)

This War of Mine deals with the cost of survival in a war-torn country. Tackling the civilian relationship with war, This War of Mine uses a thick black ink art style to set an oppressive mood for the game. The game’s heavy themes make survival all the more brutal, while choices often distill down to: whose life is the most valuable. This push and pull between pragmatism and ethics makes This War of Mine the most heart-wrenching survival games ever made.

#4: "Fallout: New Vegas" Hardcore Mode (2010)

The Fallout series is known for its savage exhausting wastelands, but Fallout: New Vegas lets players push their survival skills even further with its hardcode mode. With hardcore mode, radiation and hydration levels heal in real time, broken limbs need to be handled by a doctor, and even carrying bullets weighs a player down. The endurance needed to experience Fallout in this light gives a new meaning to the iconic post-post-nuclear setting. It’s an extraordinary survival experience inside an already amazing roleplaying experience.

#3: "The Oregon Trail" (1971)

The original survival game. The Oregon Trail was developed by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium to teach classrooms about pioneer life which, as it turns out, translates into a pretty excellent survival game scenario. Despite its now dated look, The Oregon Trail is packed with a lot of the same ideas that make up modern survival games. In it, you need to weigh the pros and cons of your actions, micromanage your resources, and avoid death from a range of perpetrators including measles to dysentery. We’ve come a long way, but The Oregon Trail is one of the most significant games in the genre.

#2: "DayZ" (2013) (Alpha Version)

The idea is simple: an open world zombie game, with permadeath, where you scour an online world for guns and gears, just trying to survive. Originally a mod for ARMA 2, its online nature blurs the lines between friend and foe that few other games can manage to replicate. In a lot of ways DayZ is a dream scenario for a game. The open-ended nature of its gameplay means that the world is whatever you make it — there’s an unparalleled sense of stress and anxiety in survival here. DayZ has forever changed the way we think about the entire genre of games.

Before we name our number one, how about taking a look at some honourable mentions.

“Shelter” (2013)
“Rust” (2013) (Alpha Version)
“ARK: Survival Evolved” (2015) (Alpha Version)

#1: "Minecraft" (2011)

The game that needs no introduction; Minecraft is a force unto itself. There’s nothing quite like the scope or substance of Minecraft’s survival: discovering an arduous hillside or a cavernous fortress, and then making your way safely back, is the ultimate survival game experience. Not to mention Creepers, who have become an emblem of the genre, capturing people’s imagination the world over. Minecraft is the quintessential survival game, and we could spend years bunkered in its world.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favourite game world to survive in? For more Top 10’s that won’t break your legs trying to reach them, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.
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