- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 09 November 2016
- Written by JOHN MORANO | STAFF WRITER
Indie survival games are an excellent option for consumers, particularly in terms of affordability; however, with the recent No Man’s Sky debacle, some might be feeling a little wary of the indie games market. No Man’s Sky, and indie/survival title, turned out to be an excellent example of all that’s wrong with the indie games market; the game was incredibly overpriced, it released in an under-developed state, and it employed deceptive marketing strategies. Steam has actually changed its store policy as a result of No Man’s Sky; there is a new rule that screenshots must represent footage captured in-game. Despite the disaster that was No Man’s Sky, consumers should not allow themselves to be turned off of the indie market by a single game. There are a number of other titles that offer both affordable prices and immersive gameplay of survival sims.
Minecraft is considered by many to be the best indie game of all time, and those who feel this way have a strong argument. Minecraft offers two modes of gameplay, survival (the more popular one) and creative. In survival, one’s goal is to survive through building structures which make survival easier. Some might argue that the goal of the game is to travel to “The End” and slay the Ender Dragon, but many play it without ever attempting this. Beyond this single-player experience, Minecraft allows its players to host and join multiplayer servers. Minecraft’s community has created something called “mod packs,” which allow players to radically alter the game, changing gameplay and adding new items. For many, these mod packs add thousands of hours’ worth of gameplay, preventing the game from becoming stale. Minecraft is priced at $27, an excellent deal for what may be the best indie game of all-time.
Terraria is a survival game in which building is essential, however, unlike Minecraft, Terraria is 2D, has a loot focus, and is designed to be played in multiplayer with several friends. Actually, in Terraria, the characters that a player creates exist separate from the worlds they inhabit. To illustrate this, let’s say I make a character, Geoffrey, and a single-player world, Gaea, for him to play on. Later on, if I decide I’m bored of this world, I can make a new one, Terra, and bring Geoffrey, and as many belongings as I can carry, over to it. Following that, I can then move back-and-forth between Gaea and Terra as I choose; I could even make a new character and send him to one or both of those worlds. I could also send these characters into multiplayer worlds created by myself or my friends, and bring my gear with them. In my mind, this idea represents Terraria’s best feature, and makes it an excellent title to play with friends.
Starbound is another 2D multiplayer survival game, like Terraria, but this one has a sci-fi theme. Personally, I feel like it both built upon and improved on what Terraria was, mainly because Starbound’s late-game offers much more to do. Not only do procedurally-generated weapons offer more depth in terms of loot, but various activities such as settling/building colonies on a virtually infinite number of worlds and capturing procedurally generated monsters give Starbound a longer shelf-life.
If Starbound sounds at all interesting, then Planet Centauri may also be worth checking out. Although it’s much earlier in its development cycle, it promises to offer much of the same, along with a few unique twists, such as custom spell-crafting and more focus on a system of capturing and raising creatures. Both of these games go for $15.
The Forest is a singleplayer/coop survival game (3D this time) with a somewhat darker narrative. The premise of it is unique to say the least. You, along with any players who join you, were in a plane which crash-landed on an island. Your job is to attempt to survive on this island while being attacked by the natives; these natives mutate over time, becoming more and more deadly. You start off dressed in rags, building simple huts, and defending yourself with a hatchet against naked barbarians. Eventually, you’ll end up in a fortress, with siege-engines being attacked by multi-limbed/headed abominations that can smash through walls. I played The Forest several years ago, earlier in its development, and it was more buggy. After revisiting it, I feel that it has come a long way, and coop adds a lot. Quick warning though, this game is not for the faint of heart. It features mature (many might say perverse/twisted) themes such as cannibalism and decoration by dismemberment. The Forest has a grotesque horror theme to it, and it takes this as far as I’ve ever seen.
Ark: Survival Evolved is a game that, quite honestly, I’m hesitant to recommend. Ark is a first-person survival game, the premise being that players wake up on an island populated both by dinosaurs and other players. Players then proceed to build structures, tame dinosaurs, and create alliances and/or wars with other players. It’s a fun game with remarkable depth in terms of base-building and dino taming/breeding. On the other hand, it’s a major time-sink. A Spinosaur, for example, can take almost 5 hours to tame, even if you use kibble, an expensive food which speeds up taming. My tribe has a base which, collectively, probably took several thousand hours to make. Honestly, it’s a very well-made game, especially for an indie. That said, its graphics are poorly optimized and when a lot of people are online, there is a lot of lag; Ark’s developers, Wildcard, tend to display remarkably little consideration for their community. Also, Ark is currently incomplete, and the Wildcard has been quite inconsistent with adding promised content.
Ark recently received a DLC pack titled Scorched Earth, which gives players a new map to survive on, new resources/technologies to use, and new mythical creatures to tame. Ethically speaking, DLC for a prerelease title is quite questionable, and many would argue that this DLC is essential and makes Ark pay-to-win. Ark’s base game goes for $30 and the DLC for $20; half of me wants to recommend this game and its DLC unconditionally, the other half wants to suggest that you run away.
image taken from imhogaming.com