The Nintendo Switch is home to a number of survival games that could keep any fan of the genre busy for hours on end. The games run the gamut from cute titles for children to more disturbing titles clearly geared toward adults. While they may share certain elements they are equally varied. The following are the top 30 survival games for the Nintendo Switch.
The 31 Best Survival Games On Switch
Forager is one of the most straightforward games on this list. You forage for supplies whilst protecting your homestead from enemies. The title released in 2019 is one of several open-world titles in the survival genre. Its aesthetic is somewhat reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda, giving a clue as to the demographic this game is meant to appeal to. That doesn’t mean children and adults of all ages can’t get into this surprisingly complex offering from HopFrog.
You can’t talk survival without at least mentioning Minecraft. Created in 2011, the game has gone on to be one of the largest on this list, with little sign of slowing down. In Minecraft players are not only free to build home bases, they are free to build just about anything they want. This has led to some truly imaginative creations. The Switch manages to breath new life into the game simply by optimizing for handheld so players can build as they go about their day, untethered to their desktops.
29. Resident Evil
No list of survival games is complete without including a bit of survival horror and the original Resident Evil is one of the most popular games in the genre. In fact, it was a major hit when it was released in stores in 1996 by Capcom. The traps mixed with the haunting atmosphere and constant threat of the undead made for an intense experience. The fixed camera, which often obscured the immediate danger the player was in, only enhanced the experience. While some may argue it’s a stretch including this game on this list, it's important to remember there were elements of crafting, like mixing herbs and collecting increasingly powerful weapons. Resident Evil and its sequels may differ from Minecraft, which is all the more reason to include them on this list.
Players flocked to Subnautica because it managed to combine all the best elements of the survival genre, like crafting and exploration, with just the right touch of creepy. Subnautica, released by Unknown World’s Entertainment in 2014, is a creepy game. While the game emphasizes exploration there are moments, particularly those when you are away from the safety of a base or vehicle, when you feel vulnerable to just about everything outside of your peripheral vision. While not explicitly a horror game, Subnautica definitely has its moments.
27. Subnautica Below Zero
Released in 2019, the developers at Unknown Worlds Entertainment took everything good from the first game and cranked it up. Below Zero puts players in a world even more incomprehensible than the first. Both the frozen tundra and the water are home to creatures that might or might not kill you.
At first blush, Windbound has all the appearances of a Legend of Zelda clone. But the developers at 5 Lives Studios were aiming for something more in the 2020 title. In some respects, they were successful. Windbound elegantly combines crafting elements with exploration that might be accused of being threadbare when compared to the game’s inspiration. While comparisons to Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild are inevitable, Windbound is ultimately its own game with its own elements.
25. This War of Mine
Originally released in 2014 by 11 Bit Studios, This War of Mine is a survival game made popular by giving a splash of cold water to players who might be more familiar with war games like Call of Duty. Players don’t take on the role of some invincible soldier. Instead, you are a largely faceless civilian forced to survive in a conflict zone. This War of Mine is a real look at what war entails for the majority of people. The game manages to get its message across quite effectively, while still managing to take players on a harrowing journey. Not many games are able to pull that off.
24. Banner Saga
Another game whose presence on this list some might question. The Banner Saga is a strategy game in which you take control of different groups of people as they try to survive a harsh environment made harsher by the return of an ancient enemy. Where this game differs is in its various survival elements. In between battles, players must remain cognizant of the group’s supplies, morale, and a host of other factors that dwindle with each passing day. Resource management is as important in this game as a battle, which adds an interesting element to a tried-and-true formula.
23. Don’t Starve
A cult classic made all the more popular by its Switch port. Don’t Starve was originally released in 2013 by Klei Entertainment the game’s premise is in its title. It isn’t just starvation that threatens players. All manner of creatures is constantly poised to try and kill players.
22. Green Hell
One of 2018’s biggest indy releases. Creepy Jar’s Green Hell was popular among players because it offered a different aesthetic twist on the survival genre. Taking place in a jungle, Green Hell pits players against a hostile environment. Each playthrough is different with a different set of challenges, which is one of the reasons this game has managed to maintain a healthy player base.
21. Resident Evil 5
Another Resident Evil game that blends one part crafting with nine parts zombie killing. Resident Evil 5 was released by Capcom in 2009, Resident Evil 5 is the direct sequel to the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4. The fifth installment takes a detour from horror by focusing a bit more on the action. This doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t have its moments. The game boasts fluid gameplay and high-stakes stories players will appreciate.
20. The Survivalists
Released in 2020 by Team 17, The Survivalists is a top-down survival game that emphasizes exploration. The game can be played solo or with a group of friends, which allows for a bit of task delineation. The Survivalists is a great addition to any Switch console.
Sheltered is a 2D game that hides quite a bit of complexity behind its look. The game, released by Team 17 in 2015, is about surviving in a bunker in the midst of an unspecified apocalypse. Players must find provisions although resources are scarce. Al the while players must fend of enemies which range from animals to roving gangs.
18. Help Will Come Tomorrow
Originally released in 2020 by Arclight creations, Help Will Come Tomorrow tasks players with keeping a family alive while stranded in the wilderness. Keeping warm, fed, and sane are important elements in the game as the elements try their best to wear down already weary characters.
17. Radiation Island
Radiation Island adds elements of science fiction to the survival game. Released in 2015 by Atypical games, Radiation Island tells the story of an experiment gone wrong. Players must survive on an island infested with mutants and they have a number of tools at their disposal. That is what makes Radiation Island so interesting. There is no single method for beating the game but it's satisfying when you eventually do.
16. ARK Survival Evolved
When first introduced in 2015 by Studio Wildcard, players thought the game was strictly about capturing and taming dinosaurs. As players sunk their teeth into the wildly in-depth survival game they discovered there was so much more beneath the surface. What was advertised as a prehistoric ranching game is in fact a major work of science fiction that continues to wow players. With a sequel on the horizon, now is the perfect time to sink your teeth into this title.
15. Resident Evil 4
The bridge between the previous horror games and the latter action games, Resident Evil 4 is a survival horror that mixes the best of both worlds. Released in 2005, the game has a number of memorable moments. While the game may be daunting at first. Eventually, however, players build a toolset making them the most dangerous aspect of the game. There is a reason why this is one of the most beloved games in the franchise.
14. Silver Falls
Silver Falls is what you get when a developer focuses less on graphics and more on atmosphere and story. Much like other survival-horror titles, the player starts out helpless but slowly builds an arsenal making him more than formidable to the forces that constantly hound him. Silver Falls may not look impressive but it’s worth a look.
Released in 2016 by Jerome Bodin, Frost is different from other games on this list, largely because of the card-based element featured throughout the title. Like other games, however, players must contend with the harsh environment, as well as dangerous enemies. Survival is largely based on the players’ choices. You will mess up, eventually, which will impact the game in any number of ways. This is why this game is a must-play for any fan of the survival genre.
Released in 2019 by Twirlbound, Pine is a survival game that is, in many ways, in a similar vein to Breath of the Wild. The player must live off of the land, hunting, and foraging for sustenance while creating tools to increase chances of survival.
Players of RedRuins’ Breathedge will be surprised by the juxtaposition of the game’s comedy and bleak atmosphere. The game puts players in the wreckage of a massive ship and tasks them with survival. Air is, of course, a necessity as the player makes their way across the wreckage finding out what happened to the ship. It’s one part mystery, two parts survival that should entertain fans of the genre.
Released in 2011 by Re-logic, Terraria is a game that has been called a 2D clone of Minecraft. The game, however, manages to stand on its own two feet and has done so for a decade now. With services like Twitch increasing the game’s popularity, Terraria is one of the most popular games on this list. The game tasks players with journeying across the procedurally generated world in search of raw materials to build. While enemies abound you can face them with a group of friends, making this game even more of a must-buy.
9. Smoke and Sacrifice
Released in 2018 by Solar Sail Games, Smoke and Sacrifice is a critically acclaimed game that tells the story of a woman in search of her child. While the premise is straightforward, the story is anything but with winding plot details and unexpected twists that will keep most players invested until the very end. Survival is key as hordes of enemies keep the main character from her ultimate goal. This is a must-play.
8. Resident Evil 6
Released in 2012 by Capcom, the game is one of the most expansive in the series. It tells three different meandering stories, woven together by the actions of six characters, seven if you count Ada Wong. While the reaction to this survival-horror title was mixed, it still managed to cultivate a large player base. Few developers are willing to offer players three games in one which is why this game is worth a playthrough, or three.
Despite its release in 2017 by Epic Games, Fortnite remains one of the most popular games on the market. Its popularity aside, the game does have elements that make it a survival game, even though it is ostensibly a shooter. Players must collect raw materials in order to quickly erect walls to protect themselves from enemy fire, a feature that makes this game straddle genres.
6. Risk of Rain 2
Released in 2019 by Hopoo games, Risk of Rain 2 is a visually stunning piece of art. The graphics and art style alone are enough to keep players interested. Players must explore and collect items in order to survive hordes of enemies of increasing strength. Players can team up or, if they are particularly brave, go solo. Item management and cooperation are key.
5. Dawn of Survivors
Released in 2019 by WiSTONE Entertainment, Dawn of Survivors is more than just another zombie game. Players must defend their base and each other from hordes of zombies intent on overrunning them. To survive this, players must craft weapons and use them wisely.
4. Cube Life Island Survival
Cube Life Island Survival is a game for players who like Minecraft but want something a bit different. Cube Life, released in 2015 by Cypronia, gives players a change of pace. Players can collect materials from an island and build bases. Players must keep an eye on their hunger and thirst, as well as their life. Neglecting anyone will lead to immediate death. The game provides a challenge that isn’t present in Minecraft which is something players will enjoy.
3. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Arguably the best in the franchise, Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild was such a success, there was a brief period it outsold the Switch. The game puts players in an expansive open-world environment and tasks them with surviving by collecting tools, weapons, and food. Players have the freedom to do as they wish as they traverse Hyrule. While most Switch owners have likely played this game, it's well worth a second go-round.
2. Niche: A Genetics Survival Game
Released in 2016 by Stray Fawn, Niche is a peculiar game. Players must create creatures with the right genetic aspects to survive the dangers the game throws. Haphazardly mutating your characters won't do them any favors. Everything the player does in this game must be thought out and deliberate.
1. The Long Dark
Perhaps one of the Switch’s biggest cult classics. The Long Dark wears its survival bona-fides on its sleeve. Originally released in 2014 by Hinterland Studio, the game features a number of dangers that can easily kill the player. Everything from the cold, lack of food and water to the ever-hunting wolves keeps the tension of this game turned all the way up. This is a must-play for fans of survival.