Three Great Indie Survival Games That Are Still Alive on Steam

It’s no secret that there is a oversaturation of indie survival games on Steam. While there are many out there hoping to be a hit, most are unfortunately a miss. Sure, some could be nothing but shameless cash-grabs, but there are many genuine indie survival games that get left by the wayside for a variety of reasons, even something as simple as not garnering enough interest to warrant further updates from the development team.

Still, there are those indie teams that land a hit—those few success stories of great indie titles that continue to live on with a thriving playerbase and gradual expansions—the survival games that actually survive. I cannot speak for all of them as there are many popular titles such as ARK: Survival Evolved which I have yet to play, but I would like to share with you three indie titles I still play to this day (or at least within the past year) that are still alive and kicking.

For this article I will be sharing some of my favorite co-operative experiences when it comes to survival. While there are plenty of competitive survival indies out there (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds for example), these are generally not my cup of tea.

I tend to get carried away with writing so feel free to skip to the “In conclusion” paragraph at the end of each section for a quick summary or TL;DR.

7 Days to Die

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Developer: The Fun Pimps

Initial release: June 28, 2013 (Alpha)

Latest Update: August 31, 2017

Link to the game on Steam

I will start this off by attempting to describe my experience with this game in the style of many of its reviews on Steam: It all started with me waking up in the desert naked and alone. Confused, I rummaged through a broken car and found some food to keep me alive as well as club to defend myself. After wandering for some time I came across one of my friends. He was just as confused, naked, and dehydrated as me. We made our way to an abandoned gas station by the side of an empty road where we had no choice but to drink toilet water. This gave us diarrhea, but it was the best option we had. We ventured too far from any buildings as night approached so we used crudely-made stone tools to dig a hole to hide in as waited out the night. When morning came, we went home and played 7 Days to Die and had a similar experience.

Imagine if DayZ and Minecraft had a baby—that’s how I’d describe 7 Days to Die (or 7 Days for short) to anyone who might be interested in this kind of survival, crafting/scavenging, multiplayer, and procedural generation sandbox game. Like DayZ, it’s a survival game in a large, zombie-infested world (if using the default map) that involves searching a diverse post-apocalyptic landscape for food and supplies with both PvE and PvP options. Like Minecraft and unlike DayZ, you can construct complex bases, grow crops to cook meals, and shape the environment through mining and deforestation. You also have the option to create a world using procedural generation that continues on infinitely. This world will generate many areas similar to the default map.

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One of the new areas is a large city… it’s also one of the most dangerous.

For those unfamiliar with this title, the main aspect of the game that separates it from its inspirations is the “days” mechanic. The zombies in this world are slow during the day—similar to what you might see in the show The Walking Dead. They are easy to deal with in open areas and small numbers. Like The Walking Dead, you can sometimes see these undead marching in hordes across the landscape. If caught off guard, a large group can be dangerous. Otherwise, dealing with zombies during the day is pretty straightforward: avoid them or kill them carefully. However, come nightfall you will find that the zombies enter a berserk mode in which they gain both movement and attack speed which makes them exceedingly more dangerous, especially in groups. Nonetheless, you can still avoid them if you find yourself a nice hole or building to hide in and remain relatively quiet. Things change on the 7th day. This is when the game’s title is fully realized. On night 7, zombies will descend on your location in waves. You can’t hide from this one. They will always know where you are for the duration of the night so hopefully you have built yourself an adequate base and collected decent supplies by this point. This event will trigger every 7 days/nights and will grow increasingly more difficult which presents a rather exciting challenge and forces players to make as much progress as they can each in-game week.

Unfortunately, the graphics are nothing to write home about, but it’s really the gameplay that makes 7 Days worth playing. If you like sandbox survival games and graphics aren’t a primary concern to you, this may be a world worth jumping into.

I have been with this game since the beginning and have about 230 hours invested in it to date. Granted, this is a game I have played on and off throughout the years as there are many other games that peak my interest, and it’s difficult to make time for more than one survival game. However, the latest update to 7 Days was quite significant so it brought a few friends and I back to it recently, and it’s more fun than it’s ever been! We’ve built a functioning base complete with a drawbridge, lived and died, gotten diarrhea (in-game of course), and have barely explored half the updated map. Everything from the graphics, UI, and game mechanics have been altered since earlier versions. More importantly, both difficulty and creative potential have been increased tremendously.

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Took us a while but we managed to turn a small house into a base (bunker underneath).

In the earliest version of the game, you could find various rare weapons such as sniper rifles and submachine guns and then create molds for the parts, crafting them endlessly to create an infinite supply of the most powerful guns. This allowed you to take on even the hardest zombies at the time with ease, including cop zombies that hurl acid at you. With the most recent version, you can no longer craft the most powerful weapons from scratch but have to find weapon parts of varying quality which will determine the damage and durability. There are also much stronger zombies out there with the potential to spawn with modifies such as “feral” or “irradiated.” This has ramped up the difficulty quite a bit, but it’s a welcome change for a survival game.

Along with the difficulty change, plenty of features have been added over time that make the world more interesting and add a lot more to the player’s to-do list. This includes a multitude of RPG-like skills which have been revamped, notes you can find that lead you on treasure hunts, NPC traders you can buy rare items from or use to sell your excess supplies, more creepy areas to explore, and a minibike you can craft that is invaluable when it comes to transportation across the dangerous wasteland.

As mentioned before, you can generate an infinite world based on a seed which you can save and share with others if you want to replicate your random-gen world or let others check it out. In the latest version of the game you can also find skyscrapers which act like vertical dungeons complete with rare loot and dangerous enemies on each floor.

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The in-game map generator gives a decent preview before finalizing.

While you can play on a PvP server, it is my understanding that hacking and griefing are still a present issue. Even on a public PvE server you may find yourself spawning into an area with little to no loot which will immensely decrease your chances of surviving. The server’s options may result in loot not spawning for several in-game days or even an in-game month. I highly recommend creating your own session to play privately with friends as I feel this is where the game provides the best experience possible. It’s frustrating to die alone because you fell into your own spike trap or because you shot a zombie bear too close with a rocket launcher, but it’s hilarious when you’re with friends!

In conclusion, 7 Days to Die is an insanely fun zombie survival sandbox which stands out among the many similar titles on Steam due to its limitless potential and constant updates. Although it may not be the most visually appealing, it offers hundreds of hours of gameplay, especially when played with friends.

The Forest

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Developer: Endnight Games Ltd

Initial release: May 30 2014 (Alpha)

Latest Update: September 8, 2017

Link to the game on Steam

Imagine the dramatic plane crash of a commercial flight reminiscent of the show LOST except instead of crashing onto a tropical island, this plane crashes into a North American forest located on a mysterious peninsula that is cut off from the world by an ominous mountain looming in the distance. Fast forward a couple days and a survivor of the crash—whom I shall call Survival Dad—runs around dark caves chucking dynamite at mutant cannibals on his quest to save his son. It’s hard to get more intense than that!

The Forest is a first-person survival horror game about a man who finds himself stranded in a lush forest after a devastating plane crash. Not to mention, he wakes up briefly to see his son taken away by a mysterious native, and the natives of this forest have a tendency to kill and eat anyone who isn’t them. Luckily, this main character has a handy dandy survival book and some outdoorsy skills to keep him alive as he hunts for his son and fends off the violent inhabitants of the forest.

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What’s cool is that the crash site spawns somewhere different every new game.

Originally, this game was released in 2013 as a single-player horror experience. Being the coward that I am, I had no interest in it as I did not want to play a game where I was alone in a forest with mutant cannibals trying to eat me (yup, they are both cannibals AND mutants). However, the developers eventually implemented co-op play and I knew I had to buy this game to play with friends. The host of the session plays as Survival Dad, the main character, and the other players (up to 7) will play as random survivors. Never die alone!

While this game fits into the same crafting/building survival horror genre as the aforementioned 7 Days, it is a lot more realistic, visually stunning, and contains an actual story (as well as a dramatic ending). It is possible to play the game without ever touching the story elements, and while this will allow you to play endlessly, I found that the story is indeed very intriguing, and it will answer a lot of the questions you may have about the mystery beginning of the game.

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The graphics aren’t #1 in the world, but they are fairly good for an indie in my opinion.

Compared to 7 Days, I think the Forest can function quite well as a single-player experience as it will add more to the horror aspect if that’s your fancy, but co-op definitely makes base-building and defense against the natives much more efficient. It also makes the caves less scary… still scary, but at least you have someone watching your back as you plunge into the darkness with unsettling noises echoing in the distance.

After finishing the game’s story (no spoilers here), you unlock a creative mode you can enter in order to experiment with infinite resources and invulnerability, but the game is much less interesting if there’s no challenge. Still, it’s fun to craft boats with catapults and hurl rocks at each other or construct giant towers to jump from without fear of death.

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We built a crazy tower in creative mode… Then we blew it up… I still need to edit the video.

The game still receives regular updates that increase the challenge and add to the already detailed world. The latest updated added the ability to use turtle shells as makeshift sleds in the snowy part of the map as well as revamps to the games HUD and crafting. They’ve also added a camcorder in a previous update along with videos you can find scattered across the map, allowing players to unlock some of the forest’s secrets. An update from a while back also added a matchlock gun you can find which is pretty powerful but difficult to obtain. I have yet to find many of the items added in the game’s latest version, but I have plans to wander the forest and its caves sometime soon.

In conclusion, the Forest is a quality survival horror game with a riveting story and an intense atmosphere. It works well in single-player, but those without balls of steel such as myself can play with friends to take on the wilderness as well as the cannibalistic natives together. Trust me, you will go into the caves of The Forest, and you won’t be the same once you see the light again.

Oh, forgot to mention, you can chop up, cook, and eat the cannibals too. Conquer your enemy by becoming them, right?

Starbound

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Developer: Chucklefish Limited

Initial release: December 4, 2013 (Beta)

Latest Update: July 18, 2017

Latest Developer Post: September 4, 2017

Link to the game on Steam

Now this one is a bit different from the other two I mentioned. If you are familiar with the fantasy sandbox game Terraria, it’s basically that but in space! While 7 Days and The Forest are first-person games with eerie horror themes, Starbound is a light-hearted, action adventure 2D side-scroller that takes place in a procedurally generated and vibrantly colored universe.

In Starbound you play as a space explorer who is thrust into a dire situation in which you (and potentially with your co-op buddies) must search the galaxy for ways to stop an ancient threat that could destroy peaceful existence as you know it. You can completely ignore the storyline, but if you do end up finishing it you can still continue to play and explore just like before.

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The in-game star map allows you to go anywhere as long as you’ve got the fuel!

Whether you follow the story or not, you will find yourself heading out to a variety of procedurally generated planets and moons in order to find new resources, trade with settlers, defeat monsters, and collect some sick loot! The different weapons and their stats are also randomized so there are endless possibilities for the loot you can obtain. Want a laser sniper rifle with a grenade launcher attachment? What about a sword that’s also a flamethrower? How about a rapid-fire plasma shotgun? There are so many possibilities!

As you progress, you will also be able to upgrade your ship, hire allies to fight by your side, and craft new items to help you on your adventures. You can even collect pets at some point and summon them at will in a very Pokemon-esque fashion. To achieve an experience similar to Terraria, you can also setup a home base on one of the worlds you explore and place a teleporter to which you can beam to when needed. Don’t forget to collect all kinds of paintings and statues to decorate your base and ship with as well!

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Most of my goods are on my ship, but I keep a small farm on an ice planet for food supply.

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Here’s a pic of my upgraded ship, complete with my hoarder storage and my alien crew.

Although the game was released as an early access beta in 2013, I hadn’t picked it up until last year. I have about 50 hours played so far, but it has been a few months since I have touched it. However, while I’ve been away the dev team has revamped space travel, added mechs, and made it possible to encounter friendly or hostile ships in space. Recent developer posts have stated that the game is set to receive even more updates which includes the ability to join the ranks of Samus Aran and Boba Fett as a spacefaring bounty hunter! Despite the developer having other titles requiring their attention (including a new IP), I’m glad to see they continue to expand the inspiring universe that is Starbound.

In conclusion, Starbound is a great indie title for those looking for an epic 2D space adventure they can share with friends. The procedural generation makes every planet different, allowing for hundreds of hours of play and endless worlds to explore. This game has everything you could want from a survival adventure—new and challenging dungeons, infinite loot, upgradable equipment, companions to meet, lore to discover, and so much more. New and exciting features are on the way as well!

Thanks for reading!

This is my first article with Triangle C. I’m new and haven’t written in a while, but I hope you enjoyed my work. Feel free to leave me any feedback! Peace out!

 

 

Kingdom Hearts 3 = Due in 2018

It would be an understatement to say Kingdom Hearts (KH) fans are getting antsy for Kingdom Hearts 3. After a measly trailer presented at E3 2017, Disney and Square Enix make their big move at D23 Expo to provide more details and a potential release: 2018. Whether or not you believe it’s the actual date, this reveals the game heading in a great direction of new content and continuing creativity for the series.  Continue reading Kingdom Hearts 3 = Due in 2018

REVIEW: NEOTOKYO

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If Blade Runner was set in Tokyo in the far future, it would probably look like this. The mod is created by Studio RADI-8, a modification team. An inspired mix of Ghost in the Shell and Akira fused with Counter Strike, the game is a modification of the Half Life engine that was originally released in 2009. It was Greenlit on Steam in 2012 and released only recently on July 4th, 2014. The game is free to play and follows a group of two warrior political factions in a struggle for control of an economically distraught Japan. The story is paper thin but what the game really boils down to is the multiplayer aspect.

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(Although the servers are low, they’ll probably pick up as soon as more updates are added.)

According to Wikipedia, the story is as follows: NEOTOKYO° is set in Tokyo, approximately 30 years in the future. After the failure of a proposal to alter the Japanese constitution to allow foreign deployment of Japanese soldiers, a military coup d’état is attempted by extreme nationalist factions in the JSDF. In response, the Prime Minister of Japan pools former military intelligence operatives and police officers into a sub-group of the Interior Ministry’s National Security Force (NSF), called Group Six, to seek out subsequent coup plotters and uphold the law in both domestic and international soil. Immediately, rumours surface that an unknown faction in the JGSDF’s special forces unit “Jinrai” is preparing for another coup attempt against the government. According to the information, the said members of this group are from Special Operations Group 43, fierce ultranationalists determined to succeed with the coup once more. The ensuing strife between these two factions sets the backdrop for the game.

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(Most characters have something covering their eyes. The future must have really bad eye care or maybe they’re all using Google Glass…?)

There are two factions in the game that you can freely choose from when entering a server. There’s the JINRAI and the NSF. Other than pure cosmetic looks, there’s nothing very different about the two factions. Hell, even the weapons are the same. There are three different types of classes: Recon, Assault and Support. Recon is quick, equipped with a cloaking ability, sidearm, knife and detpack. There are very limited weapons that the Recon class can use however, which is only the first six. They also have very limited armor which makes them easier to kill, much like the Scout class in Team Fortress 2. Next up is the Assault class. Hefting more armor, limited sprint and more weapon choices, the Assault class is meant to take out enemies with precision. Armed with a sidearm, grenades and a knife, running isn’t your first priority. Lastly is the Support class. Slow but heavily armored, these guys are hard to kill. I’ve unloaded an entire clip into one as the Recon class. It did nothing. The Support class is armed with a shotgun and has every weapon available to them at the highest rank. You also have thermal vision but lack the ability to sprint or cloak unlike the other two classes. After playing all three classes, I favor the Recon class the most. I like running around, gunning down enemies ahead of the pack. The Recon class has this neat jump ability that allows you to spring forward. You can only do this so many times however.

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The stats of the weapons aren’t talked about in detail but like any shooter, silenced weapons give you a quieter kill while risking accuracy and damage. Unsilenced weapons give you more damage and increased accuracy at the cost of having your position given away. SMGs, automatic rifles, sniper rifles and shotguns make a total of 12 weapons available. As you play through each match, you are at a low rank designated Private. As you progress through each match killing enemies and doing objectives, you rise in rank eventually culminating in the Sergeant rank. Ranks mean absolutely nothing in this game except for the fact that you can get all the weapons of each class.

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(We were a pretty good team. Oh yeah, there’s also teamkilling…)

NEOTOKYO is heavily focused on teamwork. Although not heavily implied, this is no Counter Strike or Call of Duty. It feels tactical to play this game, relying on your team to complete objectives. There are currently only two game modes available: Team Deathmatch and Capture the Ghost. Capture the Ghost is a spin on the CTF gamemodes that populate other shooters. Like Counter Strike, there are no respawns after you die in a round. The Ghost is placed in the center of the map. Each team must reach the Ghost before the other does, capture it and bring it back to designated areas for extraction. When you pick up the Ghost, you lose you primary weapon and are only left with your sidearm, knife and grenades. Upon holding the Ghost, she will speak random lines of dialogue to you in Japanese. The good thing about holding the Ghost is that nearby enemies will be revealed to you. The Ghost transmits the heat signatures of nearby baddies as you walk around the map. Putting her away will make the enemy locations disappear. Each class has its pros and cons of taking the Ghost. My strategy is to take the Ghost and just run as the Recon class. There are two ways to win a match in CTG, capture the Ghost or kill the entire opposing team. Most people are interested in the latter.

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(The “Ghost.” Makes you wonder where the rest of her went…)

Most servers on NEOTOKYO feature this gamemode. Rarely did I play on a server that had TDM. CTG is fun. It’s quick and refreshing compared to other types of CTF. Most people on the servers, however, would rather eliminate the other team rather than doing the objective. I must admit though, completing the objective starts to feel stale after a while. It feels more rewarding to eliminate the entire opposing team than to play the objective.

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(An old house from the level Isolation.)

Let’s talk about maps for a second. Each map is wonderfully detailed and populated with props that make me become immersed in the cyberpunk world. Maps range from urban cities to countryside derelicts. There are some instances where the textures are lacking but frames never drop during gameplay due to the versatile Source engine. Maps are relatively small. Isolation is actually the biggest map I’ve been on.

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(Faithfully recreated Suica card machines. Straight from 2044.)

Having been to Japan before, a rush of nostalgia filled my mind as I walked around each map. I especially love the urban city maps. Even some licensed stores and products are used in some props. I’ve died countless times just exploring each map just to use the freecam feature. The level of detail put into each map is astounding. Despite being on a really now dated game engine, the game still looks fantastic.

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(My decapitated body. Man, future Japan weapons are too powerful.)

Final thoughts: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve died. Friendly fire, decapitation, despite all this, I’ve had a lot of fun playing this mod. I really like the maps, Capture the Ghost and the well balanced classes. It’s one of those games I play on and off, I can’t sit down and play this for four hours straight. It’s great in short increments. Give it a shot, it’s not a game for everyone but it’s definitely worth a download. Download the mod here.

Watch the trailer, here.
Official NEOTOKYO website, here.

 

Tekken 7: Out With the Old, In With the New?

I’ve dabbled about 10 hours into Tekken 7, the latest game of the franchise. As a longtime fan, the first thing I noticed in Arcade Mode was the absence of fan favorite characters.

(Please note, this article contains spoilers after finishing Story Mode)

Continue reading Tekken 7: Out With the Old, In With the New?

Alien Isolation: The Wonders of Lighting

As a fan of the 1979 movie, Alien, I couldn’t resist picking this game up. With a recent string of terrible to downright horrible Alien related games, this one is a game that will definitely knock your socks off.

Continue reading Alien Isolation: The Wonders of Lighting

My First E3 Experience

I’m sitting in my hotel bed and reflecting on the most memorable moments of my first attendance at E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

 

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Continue reading My First E3 Experience

3 Tips for Handling Persona 5

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Taken from Atlus

Persona 5 is a behemoth of a game. Closing in on 100 hours of game play, there’s a lot you need to tackle in a school year.

(Please note, this article contains spoilers of the game)

Continue reading 3 Tips for Handling Persona 5