A storyline is one of the most salient things of a game, whether you’re playing Detroit: Become Human or the Oregon Trail *brb, dying of dysentery*. One of the most twisty-and-turny storyline types is a survival plot, centered around a lone (or few) plucky protagonist(s), trying to make their way to whatever is left of civilization. When it’s the case that the plot is so strong it could probably be adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster, gameplay usually takes a backseat while players let the sights and sounds of a world devastated by real or perceived decimation take them away…
Now, without further ado, here’s 10 of the most thrilling survival games of all time:
1. I Am Alive
A catastrophe only known as the Event has plunged most of the United States into anomie. There is no FEMA, no National Guard, no one to help you except yourself. Infiltrate your former hometown of Haventon (now with 500% more poisonous ash in the air. But at least we’re not Detroit! …WE’RE NOT DETROIT!!!) and rescue your wife and daughter. The plot may have more than a few holes in it, and the reviews aren’t that rave, but some still call it a prototype for the Last of Us. Developed first by Darkworks with the finishing touches applied by Ubisoft Shanghai, I Am Alive was released in 2012 for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
2. State of Decay
Imagine coming home to a world upside down. Everything you once knew, gone after a fishing trip. Your neighbours turned into zombies. Set in picturesque Trumbull Valley, Undead Labs’ State of Decay is a harrowing tale of strength and survival by a ragtag band of survivors joined by dint of necessity, as they struggle to find a way out of the contaminated valley. Combining open world features and linear survival narratives, with some RPG features thrown in, State of Decay has managed to garner a reputation for being the zombie GTA, and has rightfully earned a sequel.
3. The Walking Dead
From Telltale comes one of the most compelling stories ever put on a computer screen. Adapted from the award-winning TV series with the same name, The Walking Dead games have proved to be in a calibre of their own. Follow Lee as he makes his way across the Peach State with his newfound ward Clementine in tow, and join up with other survivors of the apocalypse. Even with the otherwise fairly linear story, the choices to be made within the bounds set by the plot are aplenty with consequences down the line simply unpredictable, making this Adventure Game of the Century material, as recognized by GameSpy, IGN, PCgamer, and other major gaming publications.
4. Metro: Last Night
Even though Metro: Last Night is more a first-person shooter than survival game in terms of gameplay, the plot does make it qualify as a survival adventure game. Developed by 4A Games, Metro tells the story of Artyom, who lives beneath post-apocalyptic Moscow. You are tasked with finding the mysterious Dark Ones, while avoiding mutants and other radiation-caused perils. Nominated for Best Shooter at the 2013 VGX Game Awards and voted Best XBOX 360 Game of the Year by GameSpot.
5. Fallout 4
No one can do an end run around the fact that Fallout 4 is one of the most intense survival games out there. To paraphrase a GameInformer review, “It’s hypnotic. 9/10”. You are a suburbanite living out your 50’s photo-perfect life peacefully when suddenly… the air raid sirens sound. You leg it with your loved ones in tow to the nearest vault, and strap yourself in for however long it takes for the radiation to dissipate… except something happens during the interstices, your partner is killed and your child abducted. Now fully awakened from cryo-stasis, you go on the warpath, tearing up the Commonwealth and armed with a steely determination to get them back. And Dogmeat. Can’t forget about Dogmeat.
6. Dying Light
7. Far Cry 3
Mmm, old school. The third installment in the Far Cry series puts you in the shoes of one Jason Brody, part of a group of American college students who just wanted to get high and party in Bangkok. Instead, you wake up a guest of one of Vaas’ encampments, a ruthless pirate roaming the seas of the Rook Islands, a Pacific island nation left to its own devices. Save your friends, escape, befriend the local Austronesian populace (plus a USMC vet who somehow found his way there), and defeat the pirates. Like any other Far Cry game, the survival elements are very integrated with the game, having such features of the gameplay as crafting, hunting, skinning and so on.
8. Resident Evil 7
Resident Evil 7 isn’t like most Resident Evil games. No overt mentions of Umbrella Corp, no Raccoon City, no STARS. A man travels to a seemingly-abandoned plantation in rural Louisiana, drawn by a message from his long-thought-dead wife. Cue the Manson family. Escape the horrors of the Baker family’s basement while trying to save the woman you swore to be forever faithful to, and avoid …perils. Just play the game, I don’t want to spoil anything, it’s so good. Shoot, it got a perfect score of 10/10 from Destructoid!