November 28, 2023

Survival game fans are more often than not spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing which games to pick up on Steam. These include everything from the biggest triple-A titles to the smallest indies. With Steam Early Access, some players experience earlier builds and watch their favorite games evolve based on their feedback.

RELATED: The Best Games In Early Access Right Now

In terms of quality, not every single one of those games can be considered top-notch or essential. So, to help you decide which ones are worth checking out, here are some of the best survival games on Steam.

Updated October 15, 2023, by Chris Sanfilippo: Our latest update adds spec boxes for each survival game on our list. These specs include each game’s Developer(s), Publisher(s), and ESRB Rating.

11 Don’t Starve

A combat scenario in Don't Starve

Don’t Starve
Klei Entertainment

Klei Entertainment

T For Teen due to Fantasy, Violence, Crude Humor

In Don’t Starve, players take on the role of Wilson, a scientist who wakes up to find himself in a strange, new world populated by supernatural creatures. As the title suggests, your primary objective is to keep Wilson alive as long as possible by ensuring that he stays fed and is physically and mentally prepared to face the many dangers that lurk in the shadows. If you’re looking for a macabre and quirky title, then this is the best survival game on Steam.

This involves crafting tools and weapons from resources gathered during the day and using those to fight back shadow-like enemies encountered at nighttime. Its open world is randomly generated at the start of each game, ensuring that each playthrough is as unpredictable as it is engaging. A free multiplayer expansion dubbed Don’t Starve Together was also released.

10 Deadcraft

ZomBBQ, fresh from Reid's fire pit in Deadcraft.


Publisher(s): Marvelous (XSEED)

Developer(s): First Studio, Marvelous (XSEED)

ESRB: Rated M for Mature – Blood And Gore, Suggestive Themes, Strong Language, Intense Violence, Drug Reference

If you enjoy farming sims like Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon, Deadcraft is a survival sim worth your time. This bizarre yet satisfying survival/farming/RPG hybrid follows your character, Reid, as he navigates his existence as a zombie/human hybrid. To survive the apocalypse, Reid must earn money from bounty hunting. But, then, he must put that coin toward farming human crops and zombie delicacies.

When you’re not growing tomatoes or planting a troop of corpse followers, you’ll dedicate your time to exploration, scavenging, and combat. Deadcraft has an intriguing weapon progression system. You can craft weapons as straightforward as shotguns or as bizarre as abandoned road signs. Grotesque yet campy details like these make Deadcraft one of the best survival games on Steam!

9 Ark: Survival Evolved

A screenshot showing some players fighting a T. Rex in Ark: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved
Studio Wildcard

Studio Wildcard

T for Teen: Blood, Crude Humor, Use of Alcohol, Violence

Released in 2017 after two years in Steam Early Access, Ark: Survival Evolved is one of the more popular survival games on the digital storefront. This is primarily due to word of mouth and the gaming public’s continued fascination with dinosaurs. Furthermore, we would say Ark is one of the best survival games on Steam for dino lovers.

RELATED: ARK: Survival Evolved – Relatable Things Every Player Does

Set in a world where these prehistoric reptiles still roam the land, players must assert their dominance by either taming them or fighting them off once they’ve acquired the means to do so. They will also need to establish a base that gradually evolves to become more advanced over time. But by doing so, they must also contend with other players who can as quickly throw a wrench in their plans and send them back to the stone age.

8 Subnautica

A screenshot showing the player holding a scanner in Subnautica

Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Gearbox Publishing

E10+ for Everyone 10+: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

Subnautica is another survival game that started its life in Steam Early Access. Set on an alien world designated Planet 4546B, Subnautica casts you as Ryley Robinson, who is thrust into its vast ocean after his spaceship crashes there. To survive, he’ll need to set up a suitable habitat while exploring the planet for clues regarding the fate of a prior voyage that was sent there.

The game won the Breakthrough Award and PC Game of the Year at the 2018 Golden Joystick Awards. And with more than five million copies sold, it has proven to be a breakout hit with fans of the survival genre and even has a standalone sequel in Subnautica: Below Zero. If you enjoy survival sims 20,000 leagues under the sea, then Subnautica is one of the best survival games on Steam.

7 Stranded Deep

A player constructing a house on the beach in Stranded Deep

Stranded Deep
Beam Team Games

Beam Team Games

T For Teen due to Blood, Crude Humor, Mild Violence

Stranded Deep is for you if you’re looking for a Castaway-Esque experience. This first-person open-world survival sim finds your character stranded on an uncharted island after a plane crash over the Pacific Ocean. To survive, you must learn to craft weapons, build shelter, and hunt the surrounding wildlife. Plus, no two playthroughs will ever feel the same with randomly generated islands.

While Stranded Deep doesn’t include the competitive edge of games like Rust or Ark, it does include online or local split-screen co-op. So, it’s one of the best survival games on Steam to play with a friend!

6 Medieval Dynasty

A screenshot showing gameplay in Medieval Dynasty

Medieval Dynasty

Publisher(s): Toplitz Productions

Developer(s): Render Cube

ESRB: Rated T for Teen – Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

Medieval Dynasty includes role-playing and life simulation elements that are not standard in typical survival games. It is noted for its realistic depiction of life in the middle-ages, where players must develop an entire settlement from scratch and keep it safe from external threats like bandits and invaders.

RELATED: Medieval Dynasty: Beginner Tips

Players can choose between following the main quest line with set objectives or freely exploring its open world to discover unique adventures. But the ultimate goal remains to establish a dynasty that will rival all others in its medieval kingdom. As you can see, history buffs will likely consider Medieval Dynasty one of the best survival games on Steam.

5 No Man’s Sky

A player runs in a forest while another rides a large animal in No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky
Hello Games

Hello Games

T for Teen: Fantasy Violence, Animated Blood

To say that No Man’s Sky had launched in a less-than-ideal state is an understatement. But looking at the game today, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice the growing pains and rough edges that once defined the experience of playing it. In its current state, No Man’s Sky is one of the best survival games on Steam, if not the most-improved.

This is because the game continues to receive support from its developers at Hello Games, who have sought to make good on many of the promises initially sold to players. As a result, there’s plenty to see and do on each of the planets that make up its galaxy. So anyone jumping into its massive, randomly-generated sandbox for the first time would be treated to an expansive open universe built around exploration and survival.

4 I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

The current hand in this card challenge is worth twenty four points in I Was A Teenage Exocolonist.

I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

Publisher(s): Finji

Developer(s): Northway Games

ESRB: Rated T for Teen – Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

I Was A Teenage Exocolonist is a thoughtful and unique survival sim. From a gameplay perspective, Teenage Exocolonist’s defining trait is a card game mechanic that players must master to perform everyday tasks. However, the game’s standout feature is its reflective and heart-tugging story-telling.

In I Was A Teenage Exocolonist, you’ll play through the protagonist’s life from age ten to twenty as they learn to survive in a newly established colony on an alien planet. Each playthrough builds on the last, as every end establishes a bigger multiverse of timelines only your character can see. If you’re looking for a title that boasts a strong story while keeping gameplay simple, this is one of the best survival games on Steam.

3 Valheim

A screenshot showing gameplay in Valheim

Iron Gate AB

Coffee Stain Studios

Based on Norse mythology, Valheim is a survival game that took Steam by storm in 2021 when it sold more than five million copies within its first month of release. Set in a mythical realm where fallen Vikings go to secure their place in the halls of Valhalla, players must prove their worthiness by fighting various supernatural forces that threaten the land.

RELATED: Things To Do Once You’ve Beaten Valheim

Despite its action focus, Valhiem is still a survival game at its core, so expect to also have to forage around for resources, build shelters, craft weapons and items, and team up with or go up against other players. So, if you’re a survival sim enthusiast looking for a new, mythical environment, Valheim is one of the best survival games on Steam.

2 Stranded: Alien Dawn

Daniel begins researching at his desk in Stranded: Alien Dawn.

Stranded: Alien Dawn

Publisher(s): Frontier Foundry

Developer(s): Haemimont Games

ESRB: Rated T For Teen – Fantasy Violence, Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol And Tabacco

Imagine a game that combines the human ant-farm gameplay of The Sims with the life-or-death stakes of space survival. You’ll start to understand the premise behind Stranded: Alien Dawn, a fun but unforgiving open-world survival sim on an alien planet. While the game is still in early access, it has already established itself as one of the best survival games on Steam.

Stranded excels at giving players a high-detailed survival experience. There are extensive research paths, an hour-by-hour scheduling system, and a taskmaster’s jamboree of assignment settings. Yet, with seasonal changes, hostile wildlife, and pervasive diseases, players must keep their space crew flexible to meet the latest survival requirements. This is the hardcore player’s best survival game on Steam.

1 The Forest

A screenshot showing gameplay in The Forest

The Forest

Publisher(s): Endnight Games, Ltd.

Developer(s): Endnight Games, Ltd.

ESRB: Rated M for Mature – Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity

The Forest is a largely beloved survival horror game by Endnight Games. It finds players stepping into the shoes of a man named Eric Leblanc, who is searching for his son after their plane crashes in a forested peninsula. He must forage the forest for construction resources and essential crafting ingredients to survive.

But the peninsula is also home to a tribe of mutants who Eric must contend with during his search. With a sequel dubbed Sons of the Forest currently in development, there is no better time to grab a machete and carve your path through this deadly open world. If you enjoy chills and thrills in your survival sims, then The Forest is one of the best survival games on Steam.

NEXT: The Most Realistic RPGs

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