10 Most Intense Survival Games of All Time

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

Dying Light is a parkour-filled, danger-underlined romp through an unnamed, gleaming independent city-state bordering Turkey. What used to be a melting pot metropolis filled with exotic sight and sound for tourist and citizen alike is now condemned and consigned to… (drumroll please) yet another zombie apocalypse. *oy gevaults internally*  You are mercenary Kyle Crane, sent in to infiltrate a terrorist group and sabotage them from the inside, as well as retrieve a super-secret document. Explore the big, open world of Harran as you avoid getting your BRAAAAAINS scooped out and eaten for dessert.

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!

9. Tomb Raider (2013)

Follow plucky adventuress Lara Croft as she sets off to discover the secrets of the lost kingdom of Yamatai. Setting off on a floating tub nicknamed the Endurance for the Dragon Triangle (which capsizes, of course, landing [or should I say sinking] Lara in a world of trouble), she is marooned on one of the volatile region’s islands, separated from her group by reasons unknown, and must navigate a cave system full of perils to life and limb. Although primarily action-adventure gameplay-wise, it does incorporate survival themes into the story, thus earning it a spot here.

10. The Last of Us

They should really call this thing Onion Chopping Simulator 2013. Joel is a born-and-bred Texan who’s lived alone with his daughter Sarah ever since his wife died, but when the outbreak hit, a wrong turn at Albuquerqu- I mean Austin results in her dying. 20 years later, he’s a smuggler working in Boston when guess what? It’s SUBSTITUTE DAUGHTER TIME!!!!1 Hired to schlep 14-year-old Ellie to safety in the hands of rebel group-cum-vaccine-research-team the Fireflies, they bond as they travel the wasteland that was once the United States (jeez, for just once they could’ve set one of these somewhere else- maybe a New Zealand with zombie sheep would be nice?). Declared one of the best narrative-driven games of the year by various reviewers, The Last of Us is well worth the $19.99.
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