Team17 returns to the Escapist Universe now with a new adventure called The Survivalists, a surviving game set on a desert island with the main focus on teamwork. Whoever dreamed of living on a paradise island like Robinson Crusoe and having a friend called Friday?
It all starts when the player is adrift on a raft until he finds a desert island. From this point on, get to work! It is necessary to gather some materials to create a cutting tool suitable to start hitting trees, shrubs, and even rock to collect wood, stones, or food. Food is an important part of the game, as it allows not only to not starve, but to regain life after an ambush at the base, or after a visit to the dungeons. In this respect, it is more permissive than in games of the kind, where it is necessary to pay attention to the food eaten. Here everything that comes to the network is food, be it fruit or meat. For meat or fish, it is necessary to use the fire to cook together with other foods, but that is not all.
But who exactly are the inhabitants of these so-called “deserted” islands? Well, the island’s monkeys can join the group of survivors. For that, it is enough to either find an individual in a cage and open it, or give the food that he is asking for. It is really simple to “bribe” these super friendly animals. After gaining their trust, it is possible to teach how to fight, to produce a construction task, or to collect material from the jungle. In a very simple and intuitive way. If there is any doubt in these points, it is always possible to consult the manual on how to perform a certain action in the specific menu for that purpose. Although the player is left to his luck on the island, the entire menu is very well structured so that you never feel adrift. And don’t worry that it will never be forced labor, since the monkeys are super happy after helping us with the tasks.
Each monkey is assigned a talent tree, however it is not possible to use any type of points to teach any skill. It will increase as an activity is assigned to a specific individual. For example, if you put a monkey to harvest fruit, it will receive food capture points and thus be more efficient. The same applies to all other attributes.
On the negative side, the player does not have any kind of skill tree. It honestly made me very reticent, because it would be a very interesting area to explore. Everything is given to the player very quickly. All building trees for different types of items or foods are easily learned in just over an hour.
The cooperative mode for up to four players is undoubtedly the highlight of this adventure. Since you never feel completely alone even when playing in single player mode as we can have up to five monkeys at our disposal. The control of this group is not always the most intuitive and simple to work with, but it is certainly much easier. I would even say quite easy, not always on the positive side. In certain aspects these friends manage to be completely “overpowered”. Having a group of five monkeys attacking a temple makes things dull as it is not even necessary to engage in physical confrontation with enemies. I would say some adjustments in this aspect and it would make things a lot more fun and with more action.
The main aspect of this title is to explore all the corners of the archipelago. Yes, the player arrived on a raft, but it is completely useless in an attempt to sail the seven seas. In this sense, it is necessary to build a raft to start the adventure. It is possible to bring some boxes to place the collected material directly on the raft. This aspect leaves open the player’s will to build a small camp on each island, or create a main camp on an island and bring all the material and treasures collected to it.
Note that wildlife on the island is not always as friendly as monkeys, some are actually quite dangerous. Among wild boars, tigers, or even sharks, there are tribes of quite violent orcs that periodically invade players’ camps to destroy structures and steal their things. The combat system is simple, presenting the attack scheme with one button, the dodge with the other, and the direction and aim with the two analogs. The same applies to the computer version, however, it is also possible to play with the keyboard which makes things much simpler to navigate more quickly through the different objects found in the object bar.
It is possible to have three different types of weapons: for melee, it is possible to use a simple club, a sword or a spear. For long-range attacks, it is possible to use a bow and arrow. They all have specific developments that make them more durable, although it is possible to pick up weapons that can be repaired. However, all of them have time of use that is presented by a life bar.
Speaking of health bars, the “stamina” bar that affects the entire movement of the character is also presented. Whether he is running, dodging or fighting.
Even with the presence of all these dangers, The Survivalists manages to evoke a very calm environment where the level of intensity we face, the process of exploration or construction is entirely linked to the player’s style. The main idea of the game is to rebuild the Galleon and escape from these deserted islands, but the whole process until reaching this end is where the main satisfaction of this picturesque adventure lies. It is undoubtedly a title with lovely graphics and gameplay without great depth, but that still manages to attract attention through his cooperative mode.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC, provided by Team17.]