The end of the world is here. Humanity no longer stands at the top of the food chain, and if they are, their number one spot is highly contested. Plagues, apocalypses, or other unforeseen catastrophes are likely to be the source of the dilemma that you will find yourself in in free survival games. If you think that the genre is limited to zombie games, you are dead wrong! The many dangers that await you are wide-ranged in the survival game genre.
Gaming has come a long way. From space shooters to fantasy games, players have always used gaming as a means to do something that they couldn’t do in their everyday life. When was the last time you hopped into a spaceship and took to the skies to fight alien life? Do you remember the last time you hunted in the woods, built your own shelter, and defended it against hostiles? Well, if you replied with yes to any of those questions, you are either an astronaut from the future, a post-apocalyptic survivor from an alternative universe, a mentally charged person, or a gamer. In video gaming, we have the means to do many alternative things that we can’t do in our daily lives. Survival games are a fun way to see how well equipped you are at fending for yourself with basic tools - at least in a digital world. The various settings can be quite diverse.
The initial situation is often quite similar in survival games. You are alone. The world is silent, except for the sound of whispering trees and some very conversational crickets somewhere in the distance. You are overcome by a sudden feeling of urgency knowing that you are defenseless in an unfamiliar world. The knowledge of a danger out there in the distance becomes shockingly clear - whether it be natural enemies lurking in the trees, human hostiles who are waiting for the right moment to take anything away from you including your life, or supernatural dangers. You cannot shake off the feeling that you are being watched. It won’t be long before you are familiar with all the possible perils of your everyday life in survival games. For now, your main incentive is to find shelter, a source for food, and a weapon to defend yourself in case of emergency. You know that if you can survive one day, you can survive any day.
Survival games can be quite varied, but naturally they all focus on players living in an extraordinary environment. This type of game can also overlap with other existing genres. If you are trapped in a haunted house or a desolate psychiatric institute from the 60s, you are most likely playing a survival horror game. If you are focused on hunting, hiding from enemies, and crafting, you are in a survival sandbox game. The former might be more straightforward and linear, following a distinct path to make it through your misery and get back to normalcy. The extraordinary situation might not be connected to the entire world, but just to a distinct location, such as a house or small town. The latter gives you many means to make it through another day. Your possibilities are endless and your survival relies on your craftiness. Either which way, staying alive in survival games is more than just a gimmick - it is the basis for the genre’s entire gameplay!