In case you haven’t noticed, survival games are a big deal right now. Mega hits like Don’t Starve have pushed the genre to the forefront of indie gaming. But now it’s gotten to the point where there seems to be a new Early Access survival game on Steam every week. How are you supposed to decide which one to play? You listen to me, that’s how.

The following is a list of the best indie survival games on Steam currently, and why you should or shouldn’t play each one depending on what you’re looking for.

Stranded Deep

If the thought of swimming with blood-thirsty sharks terrifies you, then stay away from Stranded Deep. Otherwise, get ready for the most dive-tastic of the survival bunch. Play Stranded Deep if you like the idea of diving into sunken wreckage for treasure and don’t mind highly-aggressive sharks tearing you to shreds.

stranded deep survival game

  • Type: Local
  • Procedurally-generated: Yes
  • Focus: Diving
  • Enemies: Sharks
  • Awards: Most Sharky

The Forest

In The Forest you are a passenger on a downed airplane who finds himself on an island among mutant cannibals. And no matter where you go, the mutants are always hanging around badgering you. Play The Forest if you want to survive against a group of humanoids that want to eat your brain, but that are a bit more cautious than zombies.

the forest

  • Type: Co-op
  • Procedurally-generated: No
  • Focus: Defense
  • Enemies: The mutants
  • Awards: Most All Around, All Bases Covered Survival Game

Rust

If you’re looking for a highly mature survival MMO with a large focus on clans, Rust is your game. But considering you can craft things like rocket launchers with wood, metal and cloth, don’t play Rust looking for the most realistic survival experience. Play Rust if you’re looking for high levels of customization, heavy clan interaction, running around naked, and don’t mind getting raided to a pulp all the time.

rust

  • Type: MMO
  • Procedurally-generated? Both
  • Focus: Clanning
  • Enemies: Other humans, bears
  • Awards: Overall Most Played

The Long Dark

The Long Dark stands apart from the pack with its emphasis on managing your stats and supplies rather than the sandbox aspects that most the others focus on. Don’t play The Long Dark if you’re looking to build an empire to hole up in, because there is no building in this game. You must acquire shelter from already existing buildings. Play The Long Dark if you like the realism of having to boil your own potable water, and the fact that fires take time to light and sometimes fail.

the long dark

  • Type: Local
  • Procedurally-generated: No
  • Focus: Stat and inventory management
  • Enemies: The cold, wolves
  • Awards: Least Sandboxy

Salt

Ever wish The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was a first-person survival game? Then you might be looking for some Salt. Salt has the simplest graphics of the bunch, but has all the great crafting and building gameplay of the others. And you can build yourself a sweet galley ship to cruise around in. Play Salt if you wish you were a pirate and don’t mind primitive graphics.

salt

  • Type: Local
  • Procedurally-generated: Yes
  • Focus: Boating
  • Enemies: Pirates
  • Awards: Most Boat Customization

Ark

Ark is the newest kid on the proverbial block, and not gonna lie, it shows. The physics still bumble around and every once in a while you’ll die for no reason. But something about the mix of clan-style MMO play and the ability to tame and ride awesome-looking dinosaurs has made this super early access title a huge hit. It’s currently ranking in the top 5 games being played on Steam ahead of Team Fortress 2, which is a little nuts. Play Ark if you love dinosaurs. And megalodons.

ark

  • Type: MMO
  • Procedurally-generated: No
  • Focus: Clanning, taming dinos
  • Enemies: Other humans, dinosaurs
  • Awards: Currently Most Popular