Movies and television tend to romanticize deserted islands, but reality shies away from “Gilligan’s Island” and leans more towards “Lord of the Flies.” Survivalcraft is a Minecraft-style game that pits you against the raw fury of the tropical elements and wild animals. Sure, you can do all the weird and wonderful stuff that you can do in a typical Minecraft game, but survival is your first priority. You can’t become King of Awesome Island if a wolf is chewing on your arm.
Survivalcraft begins with your avatar being dumped on an island by an irate party of sailors. They warn you that they’re not coming back. Guess what. They don’t.
You immediately need to begin collecting resources that will help you stay alive. Your first tropical night arrives with surprising speed, and it’s a lot less pleasant to endure when you’re not dozing by a bonfire with a pina colada in your hand.
It would be shallow to pass off Survivalcraft as a mere Minecraft clone, but the game does play a good deal like its inspiration. In other words, you know the drill. Dig up blocks of sand and dirt, build shelter, light fires. You can even tame camels and horses to speed your journey around your new island home.
However, your battles in Survivalcraft aren’t against zombies and Creepers. Your main foe is the night, which brings utter blackness with it save for a sliver of moonlight. Your first night in Survivalcraft is actually quite sobering. Few of us have ever experienced anything close to the void that our ancestors huddled against before the advent of lamps, and it’s startling to be reminded just how poorly equipped humans are for nocturnal activities.
The darkness makes it impossible to work through the night in Survivalcraft unless you manage to make fire. This might prove difficult early on, which is why it’s more important to throw together a shelter as soon as possible. If you have solid walls around you, you can sleep the night away in safety. If you don’t, well, have fun punching wolves in the dark.
There are several difficulty settings that let you play Survivalcraft at a pace you’re comfortable with, but Minecraft beginners still might find it a rough experience. Controls are responsive, but placing blocks accurately is often tricky even with the touch screen. Time is not on your side, which makes missteps frustrating.
Survivalcraft exchanges Minecraft’s fantasy setting for something a little more stark. The core concept is solid, though it may be more suited for Minecraft veterans. Either way, it’s not the Creepers you should fear: It’s the wolves howling in the darkness.