Want to ditch the forest and the barren wasteland for something under the sea? If you think it must better down where it’s wetter, these aquatic/island survival games are guaranteed to get you moister than an oyster.
Can’t get enough survival? Check out our other curated list of great survival games below!
Salt is all about the ocean. Sailing, fishing, exploring tropical islands—whatever floats your boat. You’ll navigate an uncounted number of procedurally-generated lands, filled with enemies to fight and loot to recover, but ultimately you’ll always return to the first love of any sailor: your ship.
- Sail across a procedurally generated world full of mysterious islands.
- Loot said mysterious islands to upgrade your character and decorate your ship.
- Fight pirates and scallywags with a wide variety of weapons.
- Be your own cartographer.
Recommended for: Anyone looking for either a meditative exploration game with some light combat elements, or a sailing simulator that never quite lets you reach that horizon.
Available on PC
You’re stuck on a raft. In the middle of the ocean. With no land in sight. But, and this is a very small but, you do have a hook, and a whole heap of debris around you to scavenge and, with a little knowhow, build into a new floating home on the waves. But look out—some of your toothy neighbours aren’t so happy about you invading their waters…
- Gather debris to expand and upgrade your raft.
- Defend your new floating home against vicious oceanic predators
- Collect resources to keep yourself (and your friends) fed, watered and armed.
- Dare to dive into the deep oceans for rare resources—but watch out for sharks…
Note that this game is also coming out on Steam in Early Access later in 2018, the prototype version is still available on itch.io (linked in subheading).
Recommended for: Compulsive builders and constant scavengers.
Available on PC
3) Stranded Deep
The quintessential island survival simulator, Stranded Deep has a simple concept: what would you do if you were stuck on a small tropical island with no help on the horizon? If our experiences with the game are anything to go by, it mostly involves coconuts, rafts and swearing profusely as soon as you see a shark fin rising above the water. You’ll be able (and required) to travel from island to island to find resources, keep yourself fed and watered and, perhaps most importantly, safe from the vicious weather and equally vicious beasts of the sea.
- Craft using a unique physics-based system that requires no crafting slots.
- Combat Mother Nature herself with dazzling sun and vicious storms in a dynamic weather system.
- Hunt small game and fish—or encounter denizens of the deep and become hunted yourself.
- Craft and upgrade your raft to explore shipwrecks and procedurally generated islands.
Recommended for: Explorers, survivors, tropical enthusiasts and those that don’t mind shark attacks.
Available on PC, Mac, Linux
2) The Flame in the Flood
No islands in sight for this one, except perhaps for small islands of safety. Following in the wake of an un-named post-apocalyptic event, the player is set in the shoes of a traveller who has only a single goal: follow the river, for as long as they can. You’ll do this via foot and via raft, scavenging what remains useful in a flooded world, meeting new characters, upgrading your raft, and desperately trying to keep that single, last flame in the flood alight—and alive.
- Construct and upgrade your raft using resources you find on your long journey.
- Craft traps and hunt animals during your time on land.
- Raft your way down a long river that shows off the remains of post-apocalyptic America.
- Scavenge for resources and keep yourself well-fed, watered, awake and warm.
Recommended for: Those who like survival with a bit of story and a colourful art style.
Available on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Remember underwater levels in classic retro games? Those sucked, right? Might have put you off underwater games altogether—but Subnautica might just tempt you back. The player, part of the crew of a ship in the not-too-distant future, finds themselves one of the last survivors after a catastrophic ship failure. You barely escape, landing on a nearby planet which is entirely covered with water. You must explore this new planet, recover pieces of your ship, keep yourself safe from the dangerous creatures around you and, ultimately, find out the reasons behind your crash—and find your way home.
- Live a new life underwater on an alien world with little to no land in sight.
- Build a home under the waves with resources scavenged from the colourful environment around you.
- Discover the mystery of why your ship crashed, and find a way to escape.
- Build bigger and better underwater vessels to plumb the truly dark depths of the deepest oceans.
Recommended for: Those who don’t suffer from thalassophobia, want to explore a truly strange, alien world and get freaked out by enormous, creepy sea monsters.
Available on PC, Mac, Xbox One
What is your favourite aquatic or island survival experience? Have I left a great game off this list? Let me know in the comments below!