The list of the best survival games is continually growing as developers dream up new challenges and settings for players to explore.
This includes remote islands, jungles, forests, or even entire oceans littered with mysteries, resources, and danger.
If any of that sounds exciting, then keep reading on to discover the best survival games on Steam in 2023.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
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Sons of the Forest
Categories: Survival Horror, Multiplayer, Open World
To kick things off, we’re recommending Sons of The Forest, the follow-up to Endnight Games’ hit survival co-op game.
The sequel drops you into yet another cannibal-infested hellscape while on a mission to rescue a missing billionaire.
It’s not long before chaos breaks out, prompting you and your crew to find shelter and arm yourself for what’s to come.
Much like its predecessor, Sons of the Forest offers robust survival and crafting mechanics that allow you to forge your own path in the face of danger.
Categories: Survival Horror, Third-Person Shooter, Sci-fi
Next up on our list of the best survival games is the recent remake of the critically-acclaimed survival horror classic Dead Space.
Built from the ground up with new visual, audio, and gameplay improvements that stay faithful to the original, this game is an absolute banger.
Centered on everyman engineer Isaac Clarke, it sees you fighting for your life aboard a space mining ship overrun with undead nightmares called Necromorphs.
Leveraging an arsenal of repurposed engineering tools, you’ll set out to investigate the threat while grappling with Isaac’s own sanity.
Categories: Metroidvania, Survival, Platformer
Reminiscent of indie Metroidvanias like Hollow Knight, Rain World is a fantastic action-platformer with a survival game twist.
In it, you explore a crumbling mega-structure in search of food and secrets while keeping an eye out for predators that outrank them on the food chain.
The game revels in its high difficulty and harsh environments while boasting open-ended exploration and extensive in-game lore.
While a plethora of obtuse objectives, single-hit kills, and devastating rainstorms can feel unforgiving, with enough practice and patience, you’ll learn to adapt.
Categories: Open World Survival, Base Building, Co-op
Our next suggestion for the best survival games is Valheim, which sees you exploring a sprawling primordial pool with untapped resources and unmeasured threats.
To survive, you’ll need to keep your Viking fed, well-rested, and safe from enemy raids by constructing tools, weapons, and fortified camps across each region.
The game features RPG-style progression as well as unique building mechanics that allow you to construct your own Viking longhouses, furniture, and defenses.
While it has a relatively steep difficulty curve, you can lessen the challenge by playing with friends on the same server.
ARK: Survival Evolved
Categories: Open World Survival Craft, Base Building, Multiplayer
ARK is arguably one of the best survival games on the market and, depending on who you ask, either plays great or terribly.
Regardless of where you fall, the game’s ambitious design cannot be overstated; from crafting materials and tools to online co-op and monster taming, ARK has it all.
In it, you explore a huge map dominated by futuristic technology and dinosaurs that can be hunted or used for transportation, storage, and protection.
While PvP can be brutal, especially for new players, the single-player mode allows you to craft intricate fortresses without worrying about someone blowing it up.
Categories: Open World Survival, Base Building, Exploration
Len’s Island is an open-world survival game that sees you carving out a new life for yourself on a beautiful island teeming with wonder.
Explore the island’s mysteries by dungeon crawling through caves, hiking through forests, and constructing homes and farms.
The game uses a streamlined, modular building system that will make even the most novice designers feel like seasoned builders.
When you’re not tending to crops or expanding your humble abode, you’ll set out to meet different characters and battle enemies.
Subnautica: Below Zero
Categories: Open World Survival, Base Building, Exploration
Subnautica: Below Zero is a follow-up to the hit first-person survival game in which you crashland on an alien planet covered almost entirely in water.
After returning to the planet from the first game, your character discovers a new icy region on its surface and sets out to uncover all of its mysteries.
To make it out alive, you’ll have to rely on the environment to craft bases, submersibles, and weapons as well as keep your character fed and hydrated.
Below Zero has an open-ended structure that lets you set your own goals, whether exploring the ocean, constructing bases or simply advancing the story.
Categories: Survival, Base Building, Co-op
Grounded offers a challenging survival sandbox experience set within a suburban backyard’s confines.
The only catch is, you’ve been shrunk down to the size of an ant, and pretty much everything wants to kill you.
One of your primary objectives in the game is to construct a base to rest your head at night, though finding safety in Grounded’s world isn’t that easy.
The game provides a host of options for building structures out of different materials, and you can set up shop just about anywhere.
Categories: Survival, Open World, Base Building
Based on the mythology of Conan the Barbarian, Conan Exiles is an open-world survival game that incorporates many tried and true survival mechanics.
This includes managing your character’s health, food, and water consumption in addition to crafting and equipping clothes, tools, and weapons.
The game’s fantasy-inspired setting sees you facing off against dinosaurs, dragons, and otherworldly monsters that require much preparation to bring down.
There’s close attention to detail regarding your character’s identity, including a robust character creator, religious belief system, and level-based progression.
Categories: Survival, Open World, Multiplayer
Raft is one of the best survival games that drops players in a never-ending ocean where they’ll have to deal with powerful currents and a deadly shark.
Your vessel starts out small, consisting of just a few planks of wood that can be expanded using a metal hook tool to reel in junk and other debris.
The game gives you the freedom to set your own goals and combine different materials to create furniture, tools, weapons, and power sources.
This results in a satisfying loop where players go back and forth between expanding bases, collecting resources, and striking the shark before it causes trouble.
Categories: City Builder, Survival, Resource Management
Set during a new Ice Age, Frostpunk puts you in charge of a colony that relies on steam-powered machines to stay alive.
To ensure your people survive, you’ll manage dwindling resources while earning your citizens’ trust and harnessing a myriad of retro-futuristic tech.
There are also random in-game events that require you to make tough decisions that will impact your villagers’ quality of life and overall morale.
If you end up enjoying time with the game, make sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming sequel Frostpunk 2, currently in development by 11-bit studios.
They Are Billions
Categories: Base Building, Colony Sim, Strategy
They Are Billions is a steampunk-themed colony survival sim set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by flesh-eating zombies.
In it, players are tasked with guiding the last remaining humans as they fight to reclaim civilization from massive swarms of the living dead.
This plays out across two modes: Campaign and Survival, in which you’re tasked with defending your colonies from the undead while researching new tech.
One of the game’s most unique features is the ability to pause the action and give yourself time to build new structures, issue orders to troops, or just catch your breath.
State of Decay 2
Categories: Survival, Open World, Zombies, Base Building
Another game that delivers on the zombie survival front is State of Decay 2, which builds upon its predecessor in pretty much every area.
In it, you’re tasked with growing and managing a team of survivors while venturing into the world to gather resources for your community.
The game is focused on scavenging for supplies and fortifying your base to deal with in-game events such as zombie infestations.
Resources in each map are limited, forcing you to carefully decide what goals you want to achieve and which skills to invest in.
Categories: Colony Sim, Survival, Base Building, Strategy
RimWorld features a near-perfect blend of base-building, survival, and strategy game mechanics with plenty of room for customization.
In it, you pick from several biomes before crash-landing with a team of colonists on a randomly generated alien planet.
Your colonists have physical and emotional needs that must be met for your community to flourish, including expanded housing when necessary.
Its deeply-rewarding gameplay loop is further complemented by an AI-driven storyteller known for its hilariously morbid and ridiculous scenarios.
Categories: Survival, Crafting, Base Building, Multiplayer
Rust is a hardcore survival game in which players spawn into an unforgiving open world as vulnerable “nakeds,” with nothing but a rock to their name.
Armed with this simple tool and your wits, you’ll have to scavenge for supplies, kill wild animals for food and clothing, and construct shelter away from prying eyes.
Surviving in Rust is a never-ending battle that will have you managing hunger, thirst, and body temperature levels while keeping an eye out for threats.
Some players will try to rob you, others will offer help, and many more will kill you on sight, so be careful and try to use each death as a learning experience.
The Long Dark
Categories: Open World, Survival
If you’re looking for a single-player survival game with a story and challenging gameplay, then The Long Dark is worth checking out.
Set during a harsh Canadian winter, it casts you as a bush pilot whose plane crashes on a huge yet remote island.
To survive, you’ll have to venture out and find the rest of your party while braving a frozen wilderness designed to destroy you.
Like many other games on this list, it focuses on managing systems such as fatigue, hunger, and thirst along with combating hostile wildlife, namely wolves.
Categories: Survival Horror, Top-Down
Next up is Darkwood, a tense indie survival horror game played from a top-down perspective.
In it, players take on the role of a silent protagonist stranded in a hostile wilderness teeming with threats both natural and supernatural.
The gameplay loop is structured around a continuous day/night cycle in which players explore and gather resources before hunkering down once it’s dark.
Your character’s ability to deal with external threats is rather limited, forcing you to get creative and sometimes rely on chance to survive through the night.
Oxygen Not Included
Categories: Colony Sim, Base Building, Survival
Oxygen Not Included is a challenging colony survival sim that sees you commanding a space crew living beneath an alien planet’s surface.
Your duties are split up between assigning crew to different stations, gathering resources to keep colonists alive, and researching tech to expand your base.
With oxygen extremely scarce, the stakes are considerably high, and one lousy call can cause your crew to get wiped out entirely.
Temperatures can also rapidly rise or fall, pollution will start to build up quickly, and the mental states of your colonists are constantly in flux.