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How To Train Your Monkey
The team behind The Escapists 2 (and the entire Worms series, but that’s beside the point) is at it again. This time, instead of escaping prison, you’re tasked with surviving on a seemingly deserted island. To do this, you’ll need resources, ingenuity, and of course… monkeys.
The Survivalists starts off with your character (whom you get to customise at the start) lying unconscious on a raft that has seen better days as it floats aimlessly across the sea. You awake on a deserted island with 2 goals in mind: 1. survive and 2. find a way off. Much like with The Escapists games, there’s not much of a story beyond that.
There’s not a whole lot of customisation options as to be expected with a 16-bit game. Hair, facial accessory (beard, glasses, etc.), body type, and colour of clothes (as well as hair colour). And of course, you get to name your poor little castaway (I named mine Rufus). Once you’ve created your character, you immediately set out to explore the island and find materials to craft different tools, weapons, furniture, and the like. The first thing you craft is a crude hand axe to chop trees and bash rocks for more materials. You unlock crafting recipes through a tree. Every time you craft a new recipe, any locked recipes linked to it will unlock allowing you to craft more. As with most games that feature crafting, you can craft even more items through a work table.
Not far from your raft wreckage, you’ll discover a captive monkey in a wooden cage. Break it open and free him and he becomes your loyal minion. This is just the start. As you explore the island, you find more monkeys. Some may just be wandering around hungry and will join you if you give them a special “monkey meal.” Some will be locked in cages inside the Zelda-like dungeons that you find and, much like your initial primate friend, will join you once you free them. These wonderful little monkeys play a big part in The Survivalists.
Your furry sidekicks can do anything that you can once you teach them. From gathering materials to even crafting the items. You can even have a monkey army to defend you from attackers! Having a monkey mimic you is as easy as placing a cursor over them, hitting the X button, and performing the task you would like them to copy. And of course, they would need the proper equipment to perform said task. You can also have them carry chests if you need more storage space (which you definitely will).
Every once in a while, you’ll get a notification that the “mystery shop” has opened. This is a hot air balloon that lands in random locations and is the key to escaping the island. The Mysterious Stranger that pilots the balloon will ask you to complete a task and upon completion of said task will reward you with items that will make your escape all the more possible. Of course, he will also sell you items and buy any unneeded items taking up precious inventory space.
For veterans of the survival genre, The Survivalists is a bit lacking as far as content goes. This will most likely be expanded on in future updates, but if you’re looking for a hardcore survival experience, you may want to look elsewhere for now. There’s also no way to pick up multiple items at once, so gathering materials can be a bit monotonous at times.
If you like your survival games at a more relaxed pace, this game is definitely for you. I’m not sure that the current content is worth the asking price of $24.99 / £21.99, but with future updates, there’s sure to be plenty more added. And while there may not be a whole lot of content, what’s there is definitely fun.
TBG Score: 7/10
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 09/10/2020
No. of Players: 1-4
Category: RPG, Action, Sim
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop