Hand Simulator: Survival made me furious at hands, simulators, survival

It seems deeply unfair that the survival guide for Hand Simulator: Survival is locked in a box you have to open with your hands before you've learned how to use your hands. 

But if nothing else, this first exercise in frustration, laughter, and body horror sets the tone for the rest of the game, which involves being trapped on an island surrounded by tigers, snakes, scorpions, and swarms of deadly bees. Your worst enemy, however, isn't a wild animal or dehydration: it's your own two hands.

In Hand Simulator: Survival, you need to accomplish tasks like cracking open coconuts, building a fire, chopping down trees, and other activities that anyone who plays survival games is familiar with. But this is a hand simulator, which means that simply reaching for something and picking it up is a major challenge. Forget about looking at an object and pressing E. Choosing which hand to use, extending/retracting and raising/lowering your arm, rotating your wrist, even individually flexing your fingers—these are all done with mouse clicks, mouse movements, and multiple keyboard keys.

You saw above how difficult it is to open a box. Apply that to trying to beat a tiger to death with a stick, and you know what you're in for. Or, just watch me below (or here on YouTube) in an dramatic and extremely awkward battle with an itty bitty scorpion:

But forget combat. How about the simple act of opening a coconut before I starve to death? At first I tried stooping over to pick up a rock, then hunching over a coconut that was lying on the ground and sort of bending my wrist quickly (in the same fashion as the scorpion battle) to smash it open. Only about one of every five wrist-bends managed to connect with the coconut, which typically would roll away, forcing me to re-position my nearly-nude body and re-hunch over it. Sometimes I would accidentally let go of the rock, meaning I'd have to crouch around to pick it up again. And the coconuts are just as deviously simulated as your hands, meaning that even after long minutes smashing through the tough outer skin, you still have to smash through the rigid shell.

I tried holding the rock in one hand and the coconut in the other, but that proved even more difficult because controlling two hands is twice as challenging as just one. And at that point I was already almost dead from lack of food and water. And once you've cracked the shell you still have to figure out how to get the exposed, edible coconut meat into your mouth. That's not so easy either.

All that work only to restore a sliver of hunger! It's enough to make you want to dig a hole in the sand and just give up, though lord knows how long that would take with such uncooperative hands.

Realizing how difficult it is just to pick up a stick in one hand and a rock in another quickly disabused me of the notion that I might be able to gather some strips of bark off a tree and tie them together, forming an axe—the most basic tool of every other survival game. But I still thought I might be able to make a fire, somehow. I discovered (eventually) that scraping two rocks together could produce a spark, and so I gathered a couple sticks to see if I could get myself a fire going.

I could not get myself a fire going. In fact, I feel lucky enough that I didn't scrape off any of my fingers.

I should point out that in the course of learning how to open a coconut and how not to make a fire, I died about five times. I saw a fish in the ocean and waded in to look at it and drowned. I wandered into the interior of the island after nightfall and was abruptly eaten by a goddamn tiger. I walked through stone archway and was stung to death by bees. I simply collapsed from lack of food and water more than once.

And I foolishly picked a fight with a snake while only armed with a stick. I am not a master of the bo-staff. If I accomplished anything, it may have been to give the snake a cool and refreshing little breeze before it bit me.

Also, I'm pretty sure that's my bare chest you can see at the end, not my naked butt. But I can't be 100% sure. Perhaps the venom caused a few contortions.

Did I mention this is a multiplayer game? I wish it were a bit more popular because I can't imagine how hilarious it would be to play Hand Simulator: Survival with other people. Unfortunately, no one ever joined my game and the only populated server I saw was password protected.

Ah well, it's still plenty of goofy fun trying to survive alone (and it only costs 99 cents, so hopefully more people will play it). Apparently every night a ship passes by the island, and the goal is to somehow signal it and get rescued, which I assume means building a sizable fire. I'm not quite skilled enough to live that long. My finest accomplishment so far was bashing down a small tree to use as a "spear" and then racing into the water to try impaling a fish. 

It went about as well as everything else.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.