The 10 Best Survival Games on Nintendo Switch in 2024 – SwitchArcade Special

Having spent a fair bit of time with Xbox Game Studios’ somewhat flawed Switch port of Grounded for my recent review put me in the mood for more survival games, which in turn got me in the mood to create a list of survival games. Lists, I love them. And I don’t think we’ve actually done this one before, so it’s certainly past due. As with all of our other lists, this is just our personal favorites and are presented in no particular order. Suggestions of other games fit for this list are more than appreciated, so make sure you comment if you’ve got any ideas. Let’s go!

Minecraft ($29.99)

Okay, let’s get this one out of the way. It’s not that survival games didn’t exist prior to Minecraft (The Oregon Trail checked off that box before most of us were born), and in a lot of ways you could argue this isn’t really a survival game as we have come to know them. But I think Minecraft laid down a basic template that inspired tons of other games that carried its survival elements even further, and as introductions to what can be a very merciless genre go this is one of the better ones. Learn the ropes here. Stay for a while if you want. It’s good stuff.

No Man’s Sky ($59.99)

This one is also perhaps stretching the definition a little, but I think some of the aspects that make the survival genre so appealing can be found in heavy doses here. That idea of needing to explore, scavenge, and try to become the master of your environment can be found in surplus in No Man’s Sky, along with plenty of other enjoyable mechanics. I think this is another great game for dipping your toe into the genre, and like Minecraft it offers plenty of reasons to stick around if you feel like doing so.

Stranded Deep ($24.99)

Right, time to get to the slightly more strenuous stuff. Look, a lot of the gasoline that makes survival games go is in how interested you are in the premise. Stranded Deep is a desert island deal, so if you grew up watching Gilligan’s Island and figured you could do it better than that lazy Mr. Howell, here’s your shot to prove it. Your plane has crashed in the Pacific Ocean, and the only good news is that there are some islands in the vicinity. There is also a whole lot of dangerous ocean you need to traverse, and you’ll learn pretty quickly that food and water aren’t as abundant in this situation as certain sitcoms may have led you to believe. It’s a tough one, but an interesting one.

Don’t Starve: Nintendo Switch Edition ($19.99)

Many survival games aim for a realistic style, but there’s nothing about the genre that demands that. Don’t Starve takes a top-down view and is extremely stylized, but don’t take that to mean it isn’t as complex as any other game of this sort. You’re a scientist who has been stranded in a parallel world where staying on top of your mental state is just as important as taking care of your basic physical needs. The Constant is full of dangers, and exploring it is a huge challenge.

Crashlands ($14.99)

I think it’s safe to say that Crashlands draws some inspiration from Don’t Starve, but it’s very much its own thing thanks to its wild science fiction setting and more story-driven approach. This one has a slightly gentler difficulty curve than some of the other games on this list while also maintaining its survival chops, so consider this another solid choice for those who want to enjoy the pioneer lifestyle without some of the harsher elements found in similar games.

Green Hell ($24.99)

Back to the more realistic stuff for a bit. Green Hell sees you trying to survive in the Amazon rainforest, and while it’s teeming with life it’s equally teeming with danger. You need to search for your missing wife, but you won’t be able to do her much good if you’re dead. And there are a lot of ways to get dead in the Amazon. A surprisingly large number! Watch out for poison, try to get a balanced diet somehow, and be careful not to get injured because there aren’t any doctors hanging around the premises. A very well-made game, and one that frequently goes on sale for a ridiculous price.

The Long Dark ($34.99)

Going in a completely different direction, The Long Dark sees you trying to survive in the harsh winter environments of Canada. A storm causes your plane to crash (happens a lot in these games), leaving you to try to find your way back to civilization before you freeze or starve to death. While other common elements of survival games are found in here, such as getting enough food and water, staying warm is perhaps the most central feature of The Long Dark. If you have a way to keep warm, you’ll live to see another day. If not, you won’t last long no matter what you have in your backpack.

Subnautica ($29.99)

Back to the water, but this time there’s more of it and it’s alien. You’re the only survivor of a spaceship crash (seriously, I promise it’s safer to travel by air than these games make it seem) on an oceanic planet. Your ultimate goal is of course to escape the planet, but you’ll have more pressing needs to take care of before you can even begin to think about that. This game’s sequel is also available on the Switch, and it’s just as compelling. You’ll spend most of these games exploring underwater, and it’s as beautiful as it is deadly.

The Flame in the Flood ($14.99)

Let’s head to the post-apocalypse now. The Flame in the Flood evokes The Oregon Trail with its road trip survival premise, seeing you on a journey down a massive river formed by a huge flood that has turned the land into little more than a series of islands. This game leans more heavily in roguelike territory, which means that death can come very quickly if you’re not careful. And the bad news is that it’s almost impossible to be careful if you want to stay alive. I love the style of this game, and the mechanics are well-balanced.

ARK: Ultimate Survivor Edition ($49.99)

ARK: Survival Evolved was an absolute mess of a game when it launched on Switch. One of the worst ports the console saw for some time, if I may say so. Then a complete overhaul of the game was carried out, with the result being ARK: Ultimate Survivor Edition. It runs as well as you could hope now, and that means you get to enjoy the only survival game on this list that lets you ride a dinosaur. You know, if you can avoid being eaten by said dinosaur first. A very cool game that now plays very well on the Switch.

And that’s the list, friends. Of course, this can be just the start of a great bunch of recommendations if you feel like adding to it. You can do that by heading down to the comments and sharing your favorite survival games that aren’t in this list. That way we can all find more fun games to play, and isn’t that what we’re all after? Thanks for reading!