Jay Posey’s Legends of the Duskwalker series, published by Angry Robot Books, has just come to its conclusion, and to celebrate Dawnbreaker‘s release, Jay is stopping by today to talk about video games! In particular, he’s talking about survival video games, since his series deals with surviving a post apocalyptic world where zombie-like creatures called the Weir terrorize those who are caught outside the gates. I’m not much of a gamer myself, but honestly, reading about some of these games makes me want to become one!
So please welcome Jay Posey to the blog!
Jay Posey’s Top Five Survival Video Games
With the release of my latest book Dawnbreaker, my Legends of the Duskwalker trilogy draws to a close. And though it’s a bitter-sweet accomplishment and it’s hard to say goodbye to that particular world, I have to admit it’s kind of a relief to take a little creative break from such a challenging place. It’s a hard life for most people in the Duskwalker setting, and if you’re planning on spending any time there, a little training in basic survival skills is probably a good idea.
But we’re all busy, and let’s face it, any serious survival training typically involves a lot of effort and discomfort and dirt. So naturally the next best thing is video games!
Okay, so maybe not, since they tend to be a terrible guide for learning actual meaningful skills. But at least you can get some idea of what you’d be up against by playing these five games.
Full disclosure: Asking me for a Top Five of anything is always dangerous because I’m terribly indecisive in everyday life and it’s likely that any answer I give today will be different tomorrow. But, for today, if I had to pick five video games that I’d consider excellent in the Survival genre, I’d have to list these:
5. How to Survive
This little gem of a game came out in 2013, and though it has a lot of what we’ve come to expect from typical stranded-on-a-zombie-infested-island type games, it has several nice touches that make it its own thing. Yes, it’s got zombies. But it also has some aspects of survival we don’t see in a lot of other zombie fare, like managing hunger and thirst, or a need for shelter. It’s not a super deep survivalist training ground, but it does capture some cool ideas like scavenging for parts to make improvised weapons, or making armor out of whatever happens to be handy (like old tires!).
4. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Released in 2007, S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl is a first-person shooter set in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. In the game, a second catastrophe occurred after the initial meltdown in 1986 and created a whole array of nasty things. One of the highlights of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as a survival game is how important it is to maintain constant awareness of your surroundings. In addition to environmental hazards like radiation and mysterious anomalies, the game features an extensive artificial ecology, including a lot of hungry animals that have no problem whatsoever pouncing you when you’re in the middle of a firefight.
3. Left 4 Dead 2
Though it isn’t strictly a survival game, Left 4 Dead 2 is hands down one of my all-time favorite games, and it has a lot of the trappings of a zombie apocalypse done right. As one of four Survivors, you face … well, pretty much everyone else. The number of zombies between you and a temporary safehouse are terrifyingly overwhelming, but nothing you can’t get through with some strong team coordination and a little help from whatever handy items you can find along the way. With the emphasis on teamwork, this is a great example of how important it is to have friends you can trust when things go wrong.
As an added bonus, the game dynamically adjusts the difficulty as you play, based on how you’re performing at any given time, and the enemies are placed in different locations every time you play. So even though it’s almost six years old now (and I’ve been playing it regularly since its release), the experience is different enough every play-through that it still feels fresh and exciting.
2. Don’t Starve Together
The original Don’t Starve was a great game, and Don’t Starve Together takes things to a new level by letting you bring a buddy or two or five along. This is probably the most survival-based game on the list, and you’ll spend the majority of your first few hours playing just trying to gather wood for fire and find enough food to stay alive for a few days longer. (Well, actually, you’ll probably spend the first few hours starving to death and then trying to figure out what you did wrong.) Food, water, shelter, and sleep are all critical parts of the experience, but this game forces you to pay attention to another critical component that often gets overlooked in survival games: your sanity.
In a true survival scenario, mindset is a key factor in making it through; staying focused and staying positive are often cited as deciding factors in who makes it and who doesn’t.
Of course, in Don’t Starve Together, there are plenty of things roaming the forest at night that have a say in the outcome too.
1. Fallout: New Vegas
Probably the Emperor of All Time of survival-themed video games, the Fallout franchise puts you in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland to face all sorts of nasty challenges. Fallout: New Vegas is the latest installment and arguably the most complete experience of the series. You’re put in the shoes of the Courier, and eventually get betrayed and shot through the head. But hey, that’s not a spoiler, because that’s literally just how the game starts. That should give you a pretty good idea of how things go from there.
Undoubtedly, if you only had time to play one game in a post-apocalyptic setting, Fallout: New Vegas would be my top recommendation.
At least until Fallout 4 is released in November.
Okay, so there aren’t any current plans, but I have to confess that I do have a secret dream of one day developing (and playing!) a game set in the Duskwalker world. If anyone out there has a few tens of millions of dollars they don’t know what to do with, shoot me an email!
OK folks, time to practice those survival skills…Thanks for stopping by today, Jay!
Jay Posey is a narrative designer, author, and screenwriter by trade. He started working in the video game industry in 1998, and has been writing professionally for over a decade. Currently employed as Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent around eight years writing and designing for Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon and Rainbow Sixfranchises.
A contributing author to the book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, Jay has lectured at conferences, colleges, and universities, on topics ranging from basic creative writing skills to advanced material specific to the video game industry.