I’ll start this review by admitting that I’m a huge survival game fanatic. I think I must have played almost every other survival game under the sun—the good, the bad, and the homely. One game that originally kept me coming back to it over and over again was Rust, the punishment simulator. “The punishment simulator” isn’t officially in Rust’s title, but it might as well be since its community is so incredibly super-toxic. And yet, it was always fun to form up anti-bullying posses with friends and go around hunting down people who camped newbie spawn points.
In any event, my friends and I bailed on Rust a while back, having had our fill of all of the constant toxicity—don’t get me wrong, the game itself is brilliant but the community; not so much. So, they told me about an alternative survival title that was still harsh but removed the toxic PvP aspects altogether. Subsistence is that game and it has been in Steam’s Early Access zone for a few years now.
Originally a single-player game, Subsistence is constantly being updated by its developer, ColdGames, and now includes online co-op. That’s a really good thing because to say that Subsistence is a harsh survival experience is quite an understatement.
I made the mistake of jumping into my first game of Subsistance all alone since my friends who already owned the game weren’t online at the time. I spawned in and surveyed the rugged, forested terrain; common for many of today’s survival fare. After a bit, I was acquiring resources—including wood—so that I could construct my first base.
But in the midst of those duties, I was attacked by a rather large and cantankerous bear, which killed me with a few swipes of its jagged claws. I’d gathered some resources up to that point and soon realized that everything that you’ve acquired stays on your body each time you’re killed. There’s also a timer that dictates the time in which you have to re-locate your corpse and re-acquire all of your stuff. Unfortunately, whatever killed you also tends to linger around in the same vicinity.
So, when I desperately tried to return to my corpse and grab my resources, the bear ran me down and I was killed again. This happened several more times until I retired from the game for the evening, slightly frustrated.
The next day, my friends were available and I told them about the previous day’s exploits. They laughed and invited me to their privately run server. This time around things went much more smoothly as they were already considerably established.
I finally got a chance to learn the ins and outs of Subsistence. Even with my veteran friends, it can still be an extremely difficult game to survival—let alone strive—in. I was able to build my own base close to my friends, power it up (you have to have a generator for that), and craft some of the cooler weapons such as pistols and a shotgun. I even found a same-ish looking bear and exacted my revenge upon its digital hide for my previous game’s troubles.
One thing is for sure—food is very hard to come by and cold weather can kill you quickly. I can’t count how many times that I’d be out scavenging for food when evening would arrive and I’d be caught outside, quickly freezing to death.
Anyhow, in the end, Subsistence is still in development and shows a lot of promise if handled the right way. Right now, the game’s difficulty might need to be toned down a tad bit since the wild animals and AI hunters are very deadly (the hunters frequently one-shot you). But it has some great building and crafting mechanics so I’m looking forward to this title’s further development.
Subsistence has some pretty good looking graphics that make its survival gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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