Survival Games Are Moving Beyond "Zombies & Crafting"

Survival games are normally bleak affairs. Tense, unforgiving simulations of desperation and death. So why is it that playing Eidolon, a survival game, feels so...peaceful?

I'm someone who is in love with the idea of a survival game, but rarely with their execution. The prospect of eking out a living from nothingness still sounds original (despite the glut of titles being made in this post-Minecraft world) to me, while fighting the elements instead of a procession of aliens/monsters/Russians sounds like a challenge more suited to brains than reflexes.

Only...that's rarely how survival games actually go down. Normally, they have zombies. And asshole other players. And you end up spending most of your time battling these, and it gets a little rough, and that's not really what I signed up for.

Survival Games Are Moving Beyond "Zombies & Crafting"

Eidolon is the opposite of this. You awake in a world where it's just you. You have nothing, and you're hungry, and you need to stay alive. All of which sounds tense, but thankfully, it's not. Imagine Proteus, only you can do more stuff.

The wilderness in Eidolon is vast, but never threatening. There are animals, but they're sparse, and the vast majority of them are there for eating, not to eat you. Eventually you'll pick up various items that will help make things easier for you (like a fishing rod and binoculars), but really, most of the time you'll just be wandering around, soaking up the sights (it's a very pretty game), doing the odd spot of hunting/gathering and wondering where everybody is.

Which is a fair point, because soon enough, you'll discover there's more to Eidolon than just staying alive. Being a singleplayer experience instead of a multiplayer social experiment, the developers have been able to craft a world that's way more than just a mass of trees and lakes. This isn't a blank fantasy landscape; something has happened, and there are traces of it all around you.

I won't say any more about this, since unraveling it all is the game's main pursuit, but it really helps separate Eidolon from more simplistic survival experiences.

Survival Games Are Moving Beyond "Zombies & Crafting"

Some other things that are cool about Eidolon:

  • The music is just fantastic. Very chill, really helps set the mood.
  • Another thing that keeps things peaceful is the fact you don't really die. If you starve or get sick or whatever out in the middle of nowhere and pass on, you awake in a peaceful forest, Miyazaki-style, with all your hard-found possessions still in your backpack. It's a pain trudging back to where you wanted to be, sure, but at least you don't also have to go and re-find all your gear.
  • That backpack is also your primary interface with the game/world. There's almost no HUD to speak of; actions like eating, looking at a map and even activating sleep mode are done through your backback screen. It's quick and easy having everything in the one place, and it also helps your exploring that all you're ever looking at is the world, not a collection of icons and buttons.
  • I'm sick of crafting, so thankfully, there is none here. When you find a fishing rod, you just find it. Ditto for everything else.
  • Eidolon has one of the prettiest night skies I've ever seen in a game.

Survival Games Are Moving Beyond "Zombies & Crafting"

Eidolon is $15 on Steam. You should check it out.