First Impression: The Survivalists (PC – Steam) ~ Monkey Business

Steam store pageOfficial site

Sometimes, I just need a game to get lost in it. A game where I can dive into and play for hours upon hours. Games like Minecraft and Terreria come to mind. Since last year, a 3rd game joined that list for me, and that’s The Survivalists. But why did I give it a spot on my top 10 games of 2021? Did it deserve that spot, or did I change my mind already? So, let’s start monkeying around and let’s talk about this game, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and/or opinions on this game and/or the content of this article.

Monkey Business

This game is an adventure survival game through and through. The game starts with you getting shipwrecked on an island, and it’s your task to escape. Now, you might think that this game is similar to other survival games like Forager for example. But, this game has a unique mechanic that I love.

During your adventures in this game, you can free imprisoned monkeys. As soon as you free these monkeys, they’ll join your party, and you can use them for anything you want. You can teach your monkeys to do stuff for you. This game slowly goes from a survival game to a micromanagement game. Since these monkeys can learn how to farm, craft, fight, gather resources… So, basically, you can leave the grind tasks to your monkeys. They can level up in these tasks, to complete them even more efficiently. Or you can have an army of monkeys following you around to battle enemies and such.

But I might be going a bit fast here. What’s the story in this game? Well, there is none apart from you shipwrecking and trying to find a way out. You do meet some taskmasters, but those don’t contribute anything besides being your quest givers. So, if you are looking for a survival game with a story of any sort, I think you’d look elsewhere.

Anyway, back to the monkeys. They are the game-changer, and micromanaging them is one of the biggest mechanics in this game. At this moment in my playthrough, I have freed 20 monkeys and trying to find the right balance in which monkeys are assigned to which tasks are an amazing puzzle. Together with an easy-to-understand tutorial, this game teaches you the ropes without holding your hand. After that, you are free to explore the islands.

The difficulty of this game really depends on the random islands you spawn on and in which order you tackle them. So far, I have two playthroughs running, and I have to say that the difference in difficulty makes the game fresh. To make an efficient base and craft the correct equipment to go exploring, is also a great mechanic in this game.

At the start, this game is overwhelming. There are islands to explore, crafting trees to unlock, resources to keep high, dungeons to explore, treasures to find… But, in its current form, the game lacks depth in some areas. There are a lot of mechanics that can be improved or expanded upon.

For example, the blueprint system. You can’t rotate buildings OR cancel blueprints once they are placed. Another example, why can’t you sort your monkeys by e.g. skill in your menu or see their names on the map? Once, one of my monkeys glitched out and got stuck in the middle of the sea without me being able to pick him up. I could use a summon-banana, but I had no idea of the monkey’s name.

If I list all the mechanics that could use a bit more quality of life features, I’d be here for a long time. But, don’t get me wrong here. The features that are here are amazing, but certain things would make the game even more enjoyable to play. For example, see the radius of where gathering monkeys will go to pick up materials. On the other hand, it makes the game a bit more challenging, since you need to plan your building quite well.

Open sea

This game was released in October 2020. Since then, it got 4 big content updates. These updates brought a lot of new things to the game. Sadly, since last summer, there hasn’t been a lot of development of this game. And if there is, I haven’t found any traces of it on the social platforms or on their Discord.

It’s a shame really since the potential of this game is huge. Currently, you can explore 5 islands. At first, I was afraid that it would make the world too small. But thankfully, that’s not a big issue. Each island serves its purpose and going from island to island takes up a lot of time. Thankfully, you can set up transport gates.

These transport gates are one of the best additions to the game in my opinion. They increase the game flow so much. I don’t like having a monkey with me that carries a big chest for storage. Since, when they get knocked out, they don’t re-pick up that chest, and it doesn’t appear on the mini-map. And with the small inventory, these transport gates are a blessing. And it’s also really helpful that items don’t disappear from the ground. On my adventures today, I found some leaves I have thrown out of my inventory when I first discovered the island over a month ago.

Exploring the islands can be quite tense. Since you never know where the enemy villages are. And let me tell you, some of these enemies can pack a punch. Mastering the combat in this game is essential to survive. I also bought this game on my Switch and I have to say that I highly prefer the controls on the PC version. Maybe that’s because I got so used to them with mouse and keyboard, that I have some troubles playing this game with a controller… Which is also an option.

That being said, this game controls amazingly. Sometimes, I had a bit of trouble canceling some crafting of my monkeys, but that was partly my own fault since I placed so many crafting stations so close together.

With these wonderful controls, we can explore the amazingly designed world of this game. While there are only a few biomes, they are all well-designed and have their own reasons to be explored. It’s really quite impressive how well this game runs. In some cases, there is a lot going on, and I barely see any lag or slowdown appear. Which is good, since you’ve to be on your guard in some areas to survive.

I always tense a bit up when I heard that battle music coming. I always look around to make sure if it’s safe to continue to gather the supplies I was gathering or if I should first go into combat mode. The music and sound design are really well done, and it adds so much to the atmosphere of this game. I didn’t hesitate to buy the OST DLC to be able to put the music on my playlists while I’m working.

Replaying

One thing that really tripped me up several times is that this game doesn’t have an autosave. To save your game, you have to sleep.

The loading of another world also isn’t quite easy to do. But, once you have done it, it’s easy to do. You just need to know that “Save slots” is your world select. And, you better have some sort of note system since you can’t give your world’s names. 😦

This game also has multiplayer. I haven’t played a lot of multiplayer, but from what I have played… It works fine. The limited communication options through emotes are somewhat disappointing to me. Sadly, the last two times I got bad experiences in multiplayer with a broken temple and a very spammy host with emotes.

Personally, I don’t regret putting this game on my top 10 games list last year. Yet, I can totally understand why people expected more from this. This game is from the same studio that brought us Overcooked and Worms. The charm in this game is huge, but charm can bring you only so far.

I love playing through this game in short bursts from time to time, trying to finish all the quests and explore everything my islands have to offer. I’m also trying to avoid all outside help from wikis and such since the in-game tutorial and hints are great enough to help you with that.

You can finish this game in roughly 20-ish hours, but currently, I have played this game for 35 hours and I haven’t beaten it yet. Since I want to see everything this game has to offer. In general, I think this game has the potential to become even bigger, but for that, the game will need more content and some major quality of life patch. Like, being able to choose the world you want to open when you start the game?

I wish this game wasn’t such a hidden gem. If the community was larger, I’m sure that this game would get more frequent updates. But, now, I rarely see other players online… I wish there were more online, so I could experience the multiplayer. Maybe I should invite some friends to play this game since I think this game is even more fun when you play it with others. And possibly then I could unlock those final achievements.

If you enjoy games like Forager, Minecraft, or Terrarria… to name just a few; I really think you’ll enjoy this game. At the moment of writing, this game is on sale and I highly advise you to pick up the digital deluxe edition. The additional cosmetic content is totally worth it and the additional hats you can find for your monkeys make it easier to tell them apart.

And with that, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game for now. In short, I really like this game. While it has some rough edges, those aren’t a dealbreaker. While this game might not please every fan of the genre, I think there is something here for everyone. Let’s go monkeyin’ around since this is a tense adventure. An adventure worth your bananas and monkeys.

Before I ramble on, I want to thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Review: The Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass (DS) ~ My first DS game

the_legend_of_zelda_phantom_hourglass_game_coverWikipedia entry

This game has a very special place in my heart. I love the Zelda series and Nintendo’s handhelds. In my eyes, they couldn’t do anything wrong. So, when the DS was released, I waited until the upgraded DS Lite was released  to buy it. My first game was this game. But, does it still hold up today? If you are a fan of the Legend Of Zelda series, should you play this game? Well, let’s take a lot at this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The Ocean King Temple

phantomhourglass_sslg4.jpg

While sailing with Tetra and her crew, you are talking about a ghost ship that’s sailing the seas. Wouldn’t you know it, you run into said ghost ship. Tetra jumps from her ship to the ghost ship. After you hear her scream, you want to you over the ship’s railing to try and rescue her. But, you fall into the water. A fairy awoke you and your adventure began. Your objective is to save Tetra from the ghost ship.

The story is refreshing in my opinion. Since it breaks from the usual Zelda story where you need to save Zelda from Ganon. In fact, Ganon only gets introduced in the opening. When the story of The Wind Waker is recapped.

In any case, the story consists out of two main quests. But, I’m not going to spoil them. Both quests take you on a big adventure and prepare you for the big final battle on the ghost ship.

The writing in this game is perfect in my opinion. I wouldn’t change anything about it. But I didn’t expect less from Nintendo. When I first played this game, I played some parts of the ghost ship late at night. I was supposed to be sleeping, but it was in the middle of the holidays. That night, I had nightmares. The story pulled me in that much. And the fact that I remember an event from almost 10 years ago, is saying something about the game.

If you talk to people who have played this game, a common complaint comes up. That’s the Ocean King temple. It’s a nice idea in concept, but it was done a lot better in Spirit Tracks. It’s a central temple you go through to get a new part of the ocean map. Yet, you have to redo the temple several times making it boring from time to time. Thankfully, some floors had shortcuts with newly acquired items. While the puzzles in this temple are great, the central dungeon in the sequel  had one major upgrade. You could skip to the last floor easily.

Draw on that map

gfs_74258_2_2The controls are not perfect. If you are used playing Zelda games with a controller in hand or by pressing buttons, you will be in for a surprise. Apart from some functions, this game is fully controlled with the touch screen. You can swap between the screens by tapping down on the direction pad. It does take some getting used to, but as a right-handed person, it works. But, it’s a bit awkward to control sometimes. Also, I had issues trying Link to roll. I wasn’t always able to roll him out of harm’s way, which lead to some cheap damage. But that might be just me.

So, in this game, you can make notes on your maps. A feature that returns in a few other Zelda games that followed. This is really helpful since you don’t have to remember sequences or where a certain treasure is buried. You can even find an unmapped island, where you have to draw your own map. This island has a special reward on it, so look for it while you are sailing on the wide sea.

So, you have two major gameplay sections. Firstly, I want to talk about the boat sections. While exploring the endless ocean can be relaxing and fun from time to time. I sometimes wished that the boat you sail on was a speedboat. In my opinion, it goes slow from time to time. Yet, if it had a speedboat feature, some parts of the story wouldn’t have been possible.

You can upgrade your boat by finding parts in dungeons or in caves. Well, honestly, customize the look for your ship. The more you had of a kind, the more hearts your ship has. Your ship gets automatically repaired as soon as you dock at an island. The sailing gameplay works similarly to the gameplay in the Wind Waker. You can jump, shoot cannonballs and similar things. You can also fish for fish and sunken treasure. The fishing mini-game for sunken treasure is different from the mechanic in the Wind Waker. In this mini-game, you have to avoid obstacles and guide your grabbling hook down to the bottom and back up.

The second gameplay part is the exploring of islands and the dungeons. Each area has two major dungeons. Apart from the Ocean King temple, I greatly enjoyed this part of the game the most. The puzzles were creative and they forced me to use some old-school Zelda items in new and interesting ways. It also has a puzzle that took me too long to figure out. One that is solved by a mechanic of your DS itself. That’s all I’m going to say.

Look at that

screen-1For some reason, when I got this game all those years ago, I was convinced that this was a port of The Wind Waker to handhelds. But, now I know that it’s set in the same universe. Visually, this game gives off a Wind Waker-vibe. And it honestly works amazingly well on the DS. I played this game on the DS Lite and on the 3DS. The game doesn’t look dated in my opinion now-a-days, if you have some love for retro games.

The world is colorful and bright. The color pallet makes the world pop even more. While some character models look a bit sharp and early 3D with a lot of polygons, I honestly don’t mind it. This game is eye-candy in my opinion. And the animation is even better. Before this game, I used to play the 2D Zelda games, and seeing everything animated in a 2,5D was amazing. And when the 3D cut scenes came on, man, I couldn’t stop watching them.

The soundtrack for this game is good yet… There were a few tracks that really got on my nerves if I listen to them for an extended period of time. But, these moments were so far and few, I’m not going to fault the game for it.

The sound design of this game really shines when you play this game with a good pair of headphones. Together with the visuals and the soundtrack, it helped to pull me into the game even more.

If you are a veteran Zelda player, this game isn’t too difficult. Yet, to first time Zelda players, this game might be difficult here and there. I think I have died 10 times tops in my whole playthrough. So, yeah. Most of the challenge lies in the puzzles you have to solve.

So, this game also has multiplayer. And I highly recommend it! It’s a lot of fun and it can be really hectic. It’s a two player game. One player controls phantoms and another player controls Link. Link’s goal is to try and get as many gems in the safe zone as possible. The phantom’s goal is to stop Link from doing just that. If you get Link gets hit by a phantom, you have to swap sides.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to wrap up this review with the conclusion and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great art for the DS.

+ Good soundtrack and sound design.

+ Great design.

+ Lovely story and writing.

+ Great puzzles and items.

+ Great multiplayer

+ …

The bad:

-Sailing can be boring sometimes.

-The Ocean Temple could have been so much better.

-The controls aren’t for everyone and need to get used to.

Final thoughts:

When I got my DS back in 2007, I got this game as a bonus present. I tried to avoid being nostalgia-blinded in this review, but I failed in my opinion. I played and replayed this game a lot. It’s one of the favorite DS games ever made.

While I admit that this game has flaws, I had an amazing time with this game. The flaws didn’t hinder my personal experience with the game too much. But, I can understand that some gamers are going to have less fun with this game today. Personally, I highly recommend this game to everyone who loves the handheld Zelda games since it’s a blast to play. There are a lot of collectables to keep you going after you finished the main story.

Also, if you want to play or replay this game… This game can be easily found as a eShop download on the Wii U! Just saying. You can easily start playing this game.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as I enjoyed writing this one. Thank you for reading this review and I hope to be able to welcome you another time on my blog. Have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 90/100