05 July 2023
Here's ten of the best survival games to keep you surviving the summer sun!
10 Great Survival Games to help you this Summer
For solo and cooperative games, there’s nothing more motivating that survival, encouraging tough decisions and creating dramatic moments. If you're looking for a game to really sink your teeth into this summer, here’s our favourite survival games!
Come for the weird wooden ball counters with little fish on them, stay for the sense of backstabbing joy of being stranded on a desert island! The tagline of this game explains everything you need to know: “a cooperative game… until the food is gone!”
Players spend their turns deciding whether to explore the sunken ship for bonus items, go fishing for food, collect water, or help build the raft that will allow them to escape the island. However, if there’s not enough food or water for everyone, it starts turning a bit Lord of the Flies...
This tile-exploring End-of-the-world game is, as the designer Mike Gnade says, “the most apocalypse you can have at once.” Offering every version of the End of the World at once, players explore face down tiles one at a time, balancing the threat of pushing too far ahead with the danger of staying still. The core of the game is not having your deck discarded away (as if that happens, you’re done) by the aliens, zombies and other threats you’ll face on your adventures. An excellent survival game for both solo and cooperative play, it’s got that classic ‘we’ll only make it if we work together’ feel to it.
While not every survival game needs zombies, nearly every zombie game is about survival. In this CMON classic (in any of its flavours, such as the medieval Black Death and film tie-in Night of the Living Dead) you’ll be playing as a group of survivors with a handful of powers, whose only chance of making it out alive is by working together. The general rule is there will always be more zombies than there are bullets, so you’ll need to move around the modular-tiled city in the most efficient way to out-manoeuvre the brainless masses. A classic brains-splattering experience.
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on a Cursed Island
More shipwrecked adventure, this time in the Ignacy Trzewiczek classic, Robinson Crusoe. You’ll need to build shelter, find food and keep wild beasts from mucking up your shipwreck-chic feng shui. A crunchy Eurogame heart sits at the centre of this adventure, which will encourage you to take risks to find the pirate treasure or to explore a cursed temple. For those looking for a big, satisfying game of balancing your character’s needs against your desire to explore, there’s worse places to wash up.
This War Of Mine
The reason survival games are so endearing to us is because they pose us tough questions about the extent of our humanity. It’s very easy to be kind in a world of plenty, but when a choice to help or hinder someone in a war torn city might affect your own chances of living, how far does your will to help your fellow man extend? This tabletop outing for the hit video game includes a bit of classic base-building and defending, while also giving us interesting characters to interact with. A compelling game to take to the bunker with you.
Dead of Winter
If you're longing for when things are cooler temperature wise, you'll likely warm to this zombie post-apocalyptic world survival game. Dead of Winter has that powerful ‘lets sort of work together’ mechanic seen in many of these games, as while players share one over goal each game, each player also holds a personal goal they need to achieve to also win. The overwhelming number of zombies building up throughout the game creates a real motivation to work together, despite the potential for betrayal. The game’s aesthetic of snow-storm static goes a long way to set the tone of tough choices where you’ll have to consider what’s good for you and what’s good for the colony.
Survival is the only way to have a chance of winning in this much loved ‘Alien but not Alien’ game. Keep yourself alive until the end and, assuming you don’t have something living inside you, someone hasn’t put the ship on a different course and nothing explodes, you’re a winner. As with many in this list, this offers semi-cooperative play, with a touch of backstabbing here and there. The risk/reward comes not in exerting yourself too much and starving, but instead pushing too far and getting your head bitten off. Great tense gameplay in darkened spaceship corridors.
This survival game sees you exploring a post-apocalypse with fun genetic mutations. In Posthuman Saga you spend your days adventuring out to explore and hopefully expand into forgotten outposts, widening your home called 'The Fortress.' The game expands on the classic sandbox style of the first Posthuman game, offering hundreds of small stories to play through as you explore and help to tame the wasteland. However, there’s always a chance of failure, so make your moves cautiously.
The 7th Continent
Look, we have to face facts. Most people cheat when they play this game, giving their characters a certain number of lives so they can explore the furthest reaches of the island and fully enjoy this mysterious survival game. However, if you play it with the survival spirit as intended, you’ll only have one shot to find everything you want to during the game. While there’s plenty of ways to not survive in The 7th Continent, the joys of perfectly navigating your way through the strange and unreasonable world cannot be underrated.
Rocky Mountain Man
A magazine game from Emperors of Eternal Evil (Sea Evil) sees players exploring the rocky mountains and attempting to survive the wilds and, most importantly, the weather. And as you’re using only the gear available to your expedition in the 1800s, you’ve got a lower chance of survival than you’d think. The game offers a sandbox feel with a core of exploration and interaction with whatever the hills will offer you. A raw, solo experience, not for the faint of heart.
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products.
This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.