In this wildlife survival game, the deadliest creature is a cute widdle bunny

Survivalizm - The Animal Simulator is a new Early Access survival game on Steam, one that lets you inhabit various animals and sets you loose on a large chunk of wilderness. There, you must grow from a baby to an adult, hunt or forage for food, find a mate, have babies of your own, and protect your family members from predators. This being Early Access, Survializm isn't quite finished and is host to a few glitches, though I have to say they're mainly of the highly entertaining variety.

I began playing as a rabbit, which along with one type of deer, is 'free'—other animals such as tigers, pumas, wolves, and what is described in the selection menu as an 'Incomplete Elephant' require karma points to unlock. Points are awarded while you play, so you essentially have to earn your way up from playing as harmless grass-nibblers to unlock the dominant, ferocious carnivores. Or, so I thought, dot dot dot.

My first goal as I spawn in as a bunny is to grow to adulthood, which is accomplished, I discover, with a single keypress. That was easy. My next goal is to find a mate, which is actually a bit tougher. In fact, my first twenty minutes or so are spent in complete solitude as I hop around the map, nibbling the relatively few edible plants and intermittently issuing a mating call. No one answers for a long, long time. In fact, I don't see any other animals whatsoever.

I'm starting to think the game is in such an early state that no other creatures have actually been added and it should really be called Survivalizm - The Loneliest Rabbit In The World Simulator. I eventually decide to stop eating, hoping to starve to death and start over. My hunger meter slowly fills all the way, and my health meter slowly begins to drain. Finally, it empties, but I'm still alive. Can I not die? Is my bunny cursed with immortality? Is this really Survivalizm - The Rabbit Purgatory Simulator?

Then, to my amazement, I spot something. Another rabbit! And she's keen to mate! Then:

Well, I have to say that's a pretty good life simulator. You wander around, aimless and lonely, and then just when you're about to give up and die, something wonderful happens: you meet your soulmate. And then you get eaten by a giant Bengal tiger.

With 2,000 karma points in my pocket—apparently, passing through a tiger's digestive tract comes with a decent reward—I start over as a deer. While wandering around looking for a mate, I discover I can attack by performing a sort of headbutt. Should be useful if I run into any trouble, and with a little practice oh wait I've been killed already.

I feel like the life of a gentle herbivore may not be for me, though at least I was eaten after twenty seconds of life instead of twenty minutes of loneliness. I still got a couple thousand karma points for doing nothing but adorably headbutting the air and instantly becoming lunch, so I decide my goal will be to die as fast as possible, save up my points, and unlock one of these toothy terrors who keep eating me.

I respawn as a rabbit, and almost immediately stumble onto a tiger relaxing near two of her cubs. I park myself right next to her. Go ahead. Eat me. Eat me so I can become you. It pounces and uhh... misses. Misses by a bit. Impressive leg-strength, though.

The tiger does quickly course-correct and does me the favor of killing me, so I respawn again with more karma in the bank. It becomes even easier to die, since it seems every time I start over, there are more and more animals on the map. The next time I spawn in, I find myself in a crowd of rabbits, deer, and several pumas.

I also discover that as an adult rabbit, I can attack. Pretty formidably, too. I don't know what my attack is, exactly. A nibble, I suppose. But I'm capable of taking down other rabbits pretty quickly, and even knocking deer off their feet. After a few attacks, I discover I can even kill a deer. Then I discover I can eat the deer I just killed. I'm not just some helpless, fluffy bunny. I'm a ravenous, unstoppable killing machine. Watch me go to town on a pack of bunnies and a few deer:

What the heck is happening? I've gone from a lone rabbit in purgatory to the Dark Lord of Rabbit Hell. I'm a tiger after all, a tiger in a rabbit skin. Plus, when I die, I still get the same amount of karma, even though I've been brutally murdering and eating my own kind.

I find I can even attack and knock down tigers, wolves, and pumas. I'm pretty sure this isn't intended, judging by the reaction of the puma to being lightly nipped by a bunny.

I do, eventually, save up enough karma to become a tiger, a proper one. And you know what? I don't even enjoy it. The tiger has very little stamina, and its bigger body is difficult to steer. I find I'm terrible at catching rabbits and deer, and hunger begins to overwhelm me. Screw this. Who needs to be a big, lumbering tiger when I've been dominating the food chain as a rabbit?

I continue my reign of rabbit-borne terror, tearing through kith and kin and stupid, slow, helpless deer. Then, abruptly, while hopping through the woods to find my next target, I am called away, lifted to the heavens by the gods of this world.

 My work here is done, it seems. A greater and more violent destiny awaits. 

As I ascend to the heavens, a million bright stars twinkle in the sky above me and I think, "They're beautiful. So beautiful. And I shall kill and eat every last one of them."

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.