The latest overnight survival game fixation blends a Mesoamerican theme, Bionicle masks, and the occasional Destiny guy

A group of Soulmask player characters, wearing presumably ensouled masks.
(Image credit: CampFire Studio)

At this point, it's one of life's regular occurrences: You buy groceries each week, you pay rent each month, and somewhere in between you'll wake up in the morning to see tens of thousands of people are playing a survival game you hadn't heard of when you went to bed the night before. Soulmask, which hit Early Access today, seems it's the newest offering to sate our boundless hunger for base-building and resource foraging.

At time of writing, there are 31,000 viewers watching Soulmask on Twitch, putting it ahead of every other survival crafting game that isn't called Rust or Minecraft. Players on Steam seem to be liking it, too, with around 16,000 concurrent players and an early rise to a Very Positive rating. Not a shabby first showing, considering that if you'd asked me last week what I thought about Soulmask, I'd have wondered if you were talking about something from early 2000s Lego sensation Bionicle.

I wouldn't have been entirely off the mark, admittedly. In addition to your usual survival game harvesting and crafting, Soulmask lets you wear masks that "embody the spirit of ancient heroes" to use their unique abilities—like invisibility, or shooting homing arrows. Basically just like Bionicle! No wonder people are into it.

Soulmask looks like it's got a strong combat focus, where mask abilities round out eight weapon types and 75 skills' worth of combat options. It's dabbling in settlement management as well, with recruitable tribespeople who can handle some of your tasks at your base back home.

Where so many survival games skew medieval European or shipwreck survivor chic, Soulmask's trying to set itself apart by riffing on a Mesoamerican aesthetic. Of course, the Steam listing seems very comfortable in describing the game's "primitive tribal clans," so I'm not left entirely confident in how delicately it's handling that inspiration. There's also a Destiny guy walking around in one of the screenshots. Unclear how that fits in.

Soulmask is available in early access on Steam now. 

Lincoln Carpenter

Lincoln spent his formative years in World of Warcraft, and hopes to someday recover from the experience. Having earned a Creative Writing degree by convincing professors to accept his papers about Dwarf Fortress, he leverages that expertise in his most important work: judging a video game’s lore purely on the quality of its proper nouns. With writing at Waypoint and Fanbyte, Lincoln started freelancing for PC Gamer in Fall of 2021, and will take any excuse to insist that games are storytelling toolkits—whether we’re shaping those stories for ourselves, or sharing them with others. Or to gush about Monster Hunter.