Survival games aren't about saving the world or solving a problem. Survival games are about one thing and one thing only--surviving. The survival genre has been enduring over the years, catering to only a certain sect of gamers. However, a strange thing has been happening in recent years. They have been becoming rather popular. Games like Rust and Day Z showcase that growing in popularity and demand, but the frustrating (fun?) aspect about them is other people. Other people coming along handcuffing you on the side of the road with two broken legs and no pants so you have to die of thirst, some find that fun but others find it irritating. While other people make survival games more realistic, playing alone makes survival games more fun to certain gamers who just want to play the game and not worry about losing their progress to some jerk who had a bad day and wants to troll people on a video game.
Oregon Trail / Amazon Trail / Organ Trail
Just because it is old doesn't mean Oregon Trail or any of its reincarnations are any less fun. Anyone else remember the glorious golden days when you could pluck a copy of Oregon Trail or Amazon Trail from a cereal box? Reminiscence aside, Oregon Trail is infamous among gamers. The original version was developed in 1971 by the student teachers of Carleton College, and its age shows. However, it was indeed the original survival game. Its resource management and slightly educational nature teaches gamers to this day. In Oregon Trail you manage a family (or group) of pioneers travelling the Oregon Trail to fresh new territory, along the way, you must battle disease, starvation and your own stupidity due to lack of essentials that you should have picked up in the previous town.
Amazon Trail is much the same, except in the Amazon Basin. Organ Trail, however, is a more modern incarnation (though with the same old school graphics) in which you must survive a zombie apocalypse.
No matter what the graphics look like, committing genocide on buffalo or Amazon River fish will never be any less fun.
State of Decay
The majority of zombie games focus on killing zombies in mass via guns with endless clips. State of Decay isn't like that. Instead of killing 6 billon zombies and cleansing the world of the plague the game focuses on just surviving. Sure, you still have the occasion to kill some undead, but that isn't the main point of the game. As the main character, you must set up a home base, fortify it against zombie attacks and keep it stocked with the necessities of food, medicine, building materials and fuel. It is a unique take on the zombie apocalypse as players must make friends with survivors to help defend their base. Since this is a single player game, you can switch to the characters you recruit to utilize their unique abilities. However, the game doesn't stop when you log off. State of Decay keeps on going even when you are not there. It develops in real-time, generating content dynamically based on the choices you make.
If there is one game that will make you ecstatic to find a flower, Miasmata is it. In Miasmata, you find yourself stranded on a beautiful jungle island. However, this is no vacation as you are inflicted with a deadly plague. The island, thankfully, is stocked full of medicinal plants which when used in the right combination will cure you. However, gathering these plants weak from fever and with the potential of getting eaten by the unfriendly wildlife is a chore. The danger of stumbling across an unfriendly animal is real, but on this island one particular unknown beast is actively stalking you. It makes walking around at night terrifying, knowing it could take you out or that one wrong step could leave you tumbling down the side of a mountain.
There is one thing that Miasmata does well beside terrifying players with a lovely landscape, and that thing is immersion. With the first player view and the way that weakness for the disease is presented, it really gives players a sense that they are in the game, dying terribly. With no ticking clock other than their disease, Miasmata allows players to take the game at their own pace, encouraging freedom and exploration, while punishing it at the same time. It is truly one of the more unique journeys in a survival game.
Don't Stave is an unusual survival game for a number of reasons, primarily because it doesn't involve zombies which have sort of become a staple in survival games these day. It's not in first person, it's not a text adventure game, and it is beautiful in its own special and creepy way. In Don't Starve, players play Wilson who is a "Gentleman Scientist" that is forced to survive in a hostel landscape where everything in it wants to murder him terribly. The goal of the game is to survive as long as humanly possible. This involves fighting off starvation, insanity and defending against the multitudes of things that want you dead. Though the game is beautiful, it is a tough experience. It provides little in the way of instruction and leaves very little wiggle room in terms of difficulty. Many players fail to make it through their first night. However, after enough deaths--providing players learn from their mistakes--you will have mastered the mechanics. Though that doesn't assure living very long, but it helps.
You knew it was coming. There has become nothing more synonymous with survival games than Minecraft these days. What has become the key to this games popularity is the unique ability to make anything they can possibly imagine from the block materials they harvest from the world. Players have recreated famous castles, landmarks and entire cities. If you can dream it, you can probably build it in Minecraft with enough time. However, be sure to make it safe enough to survive the night time when the monsters come out. Many are put off by the old school graphics, however if you can look past that it is simple, addicting and fun in the best possible way.