Survival games are still some of the most popular, and most played, on Steam. Trying not to die is hard-coded into our DNA, so it makes sense that we'd find the idea of doing it virtually so appealing. The following games are among the best examples of simulated survival on PC, whether it's underwater, against zombies, in a brutal war, or among the stars.
The Long Dark
ARK: Survival Evolved
In a sentence: Survival, crafting, and building—with dinosaurs.
What we said: “Being punched unconscious after meeting another person happened to me five times, which also happens to be the exact number of other players I met.”
Related article: ARK diary: How not to train your dinosaur
In a sentence: Survive a cartoon wilderness filled with beasts and monsters.
What we said: “A wonderfully stylish survival game with tonnes of personality and surprisingly deep systems at its core.”
Related article: Don't Starve: hands-on with the cartoony and macabre survival game
The Flame in the Flood
In a sentence: A survival roguelike where you travel down a river scrounging for supplies.
What we said: "Lovely and challenging with enjoyable crafting and survival elements, but poor river controls make it harsher than it should be."
Related article: The Flame in the Flood review
In a sentence: Online zombie survival in the Eastern European countryside.
What we said: “A story factory, and even with its flaws, one of the better systems-driven sandbox games available.”
Related article: DayZ Diaries: the one where Ben force-feeds Andy a rotten banana
In a sentence: Survival, crafting, and building—underwater.
What we said: “For me to survive, I’ve got to pillage the bounties of the ocean floor while trying not to starve to death or get eaten myself.”
Related article: Subnautica: Early impressions of Minecraft under the sea
In a sentence: Terraria in space.
What we said: “Because everything is procedurally generated, every trip to a new planet feels like an adventure.”
Related article: Starbound so far: spelunking, eyeball trees, and moons of doom
In a sentence: Early Access island survival.
What we said: "Unlike The Forest, the island you wind up stranded on is tiny and not inhabited by naked cannibals, though sharks—the naked cannibals of the deep—patrol the waters offshore."
Related article: Stranded Deep Early Access impressions
In a sentence: Battle disease, dehydration, and a strange monster in a jungle setting.
What we said: “An infectiously ambitious first-person survival title that packs in almost everything I look for in a game.”
No Man's Sky
In a sentence: Naked men running around hitting each other with rocks.
What we said: “An open-world survival game that falls somewhere between DayZ and Minecraft and has a way of bringing out both the best and the worst in its players.”
Related article: Rust alpha review
In a sentence: Plane crash survivor angers cannibal tribe.
What we said: “Enemies are genuinely intimidating. Sometimes they won't attack you straight away, instead circling you, watching, studying, figuring you out.”
Related article: The Forest review (Early Access)
State of Decay
In a sentence: Third-person zombie survival in an open-world.
What we said: “While it's a game with a distinct beginning and end, its focus is on unscripted events and its systems naturally producing emergent narratives.”
7 Days to Die
In a sentence: Zombie survival with a focus on crafting.
What we said: “As a survivor you need to spend your precious daylight hours scrounging for parts and scrap to use against the nocturnal zombie horde.”
Related article: The Early Access report: DayZ, Rust and 7 Days to Die
This War of Mine
In a sentence: Build a boat, explore, become a pirate.
What we said: “Sailing around on your rickety raft, wondering what’s waiting for you on the next island, is a fundamentally compelling concept.”
In a sentence: Zombie survival in a large open world.
What we said: “Within minutes of joining my first server I'd already punched a player to death, been punched to death by someone else, and chatted about the game with some of the less punchy types.”
Related article: H1Z1 hands-on: first impressions of SOE's zombie survival game
In a sentence: Isometric zombie survival.
What we said: “You have to fend off zombies, seek out shelter, craft items for survival, scavenge for food, and keep your character in high spirits.”