7 days to die was released in 2013 on Steam. It is one of the very few titles that managed to retain a positive rating while being an early access title for nearly 8 years now. Developed by The Fun Pimps, a small-sized indie studio that found success in catering to a niche audience that enjoys open-world survival horror. Like any successful game, they bring a unique Tower defence mechanic to their First Person zombie survival game.
Related read: Is 7 Days To Die Cross-Platform?
I have had a lot of fun playing the game; however, the dated-looking graphics and somewhat unpolished gameplay, which is to be expected from an early access title, can be off-putting to your average gamer.
Although finding a game that checks all the boxes that 7 days to die does is difficult (hence the game’s success), here are 15 games similar to 7 days to die, each with their own unique spin on the Crafting/survival genre.
1. Escape From Tarkov
Describing Escape from Tarkov to someone who has not played it is difficult but not nearly as challenging as the game itself. EFT deals in a unique progression system, allowing you to build your own character from the ground up, equipping them with valuable arsenal and equipment necessary for victory. What it misses in the crafting department more than makes up for in the survival department.
You begin with a relatively small amount of in-game currency, which is reset each cycle. After due deliberation of equipment loadout, from the preference of weapon to how many bottles of water you’d need for the mission (Yes, you have to account for how thirsty your character might get depending on their time in the field), you load into a PvPvE world with relatively competent AI and a bunch of sweaty Shroud wannabes and soon learn the harsh reality, if you die in the field you lose everything you brought with you, this mechanic makes players think twice before taking an engagement with the enemy, enhancing the survival aspect of the game.
While many might not consider it horror, personally, it’s as horrifying as it gets. You don’t need zombies to scare you when you’re surrounded in a barn holding onto your HK-416 rifle you grinded all week to get.
2. KeepUp Survival
I have no trouble recommending this one. Although an early access title, it’s early access done right (so far.). Developed by one person, KeepUp Survival is an open-world, third-person, multiplayer survival affair. The developer not only keeps the game updated and responds to bug reports etc., but they also look at suggestions and criticism from the player base.
In addition, the developer is very active on the forums and friendly. Although KeepUp Survival is still in alpha stages, it shows great promise and is well worth your time.
3. Hunt: Showdown
Hunt: Showdown is what would happen if you took Escape From Tarkov; added the classic spaghetti western setting and mutated zombie-like inhabitants. Hunt has a progression system similar to EFT and puts you in the same PvPvE situation, but it’s set in the late 1800s.
Forget about Acog sights, vertical grips. You can forget about automatic rifles. Most rifles are DMRs, with only one of the most expensive guns being a fully automatic rifle. If you can ever afford it, don’t bring it to the field. In fact, don’t even buy it. The pain of losing one is too great.
4. S.T.A.L.K.E.R – Shadow Of Chernobyl
Ah yes, how can we talk about FPS survival horror without talking about S.T.A.L.K.E.R, my favourite RPG of all time? It’s not multiplayer, it’s not new, it’s not even very polished (Nothing a healthy modding community couldn’t fix).
S.T.A.L.K.E.R takes place in a fictional world where the Chernobyl disaster led to some strange anomalies and occurrences. You are an amnesia stricken blank slate with only one discernable goal to kill a guy called Strelok. I have drowned countless hours into this game, playing and replaying it, and while it has no crafting system, the survival and horror aspects are running on all gears in this one.
It is honestly best to go into this title as blind as possible and use the bare minimum mods. I recommend using the ZRPC mod that irons out most bugs and glitches in the game allowing for a smooth, uninterrupted play-through of this ahead of its time masterpiece.
5. Night of the Dead
Surprise, another early access title made by 2 people. Night of the Dead is the closest of all games on the list to 7 days to die. It has the same gameplay loop of exploring, scavenging for materials, building a base and defending it from zombies.
However, unlike 7D2D, Night of the Dead is a third-person game, changing the entire combat experience. It also has more appealing graphics and atmosphere, but that is subjective. Whether you prefer a third-person or first-person perspective, either game will quench your open-world survival thirst.
Valheim is the wet dream of a Dark Souls fan wanting to get into the survival/crafting games. Valheim focuses on a procedurally generated world that is vastly different every time you make a new character.
What makes this title so unique is not just the art style but the combination of looting, crafting and building with punishing souls-like combat. The sky is the limit in Valheim – you can build castles, ships, forge the finest weapons for your Viking warrior. You are only limited by your own imagination.
7. Dying Light
Mirror’s edge meets zombie apocalypse. This game truly is one of the better AAA zombie/survival titles, and with the sequel on the way no better time to try it than now. Although Dying light does not have any building mechanics and the craftable items are lackluster in comparison, where this game excels is giving players a constant sense of tension and very fluid parkour gameplay that is satisfying.
Additionally, it has a rather extensive skill tree like all Far Crys after the second one allowing the player to choose which area they’d like to spend their points – Survivor, Agility, Power, Driver, or Legend. It has a story going on in the background, but I never cared much for it. It’s as predictable as a B-grade Hollywood schlock.
However, that doesn’t demerit the phenomenal parkour and an extensive skill tree to personalize your own run. Oh, and if you decide to check out this game, don’t go out at night.
8. Project Zomboid
If you are one of those gamers who prefers 3D detailed graphics over impactful gameplay, this one might not be for you. However, those who value a good core gameplay experience might want to check out this deceivingly simple looking zombie apocalypse rogue-like.
The game is unrelentingly brutal with no hand-holding. Each new game begins with the phrase, “This is how you died.” and the game is not joking. You will die a lot. Even the emotions of your character have to be kept in balance. I don’t want to spoil any further it is a better experience going in the game blind and learning things as you go.
The game is very cheap for its content, and you can even get a “4 copies” bundle on Steam for even less. Needless to say, it’s better to play with friends, but it is perfectly viable to play solo. If you dare.
9. Don’t Starve
Another title that might not appeal to those who care for graphics. Don’t Starve was actually my first true survival rogue-like as we classify it today, thrust into an unknown procedurally generated world. Your task is to find a way out and be quick, or else you’ll starve.
You play as a fairly weak character, the lowest of the low in the food chain. When you start the game with nothing on, it’ll take a frog about 5 seconds to murder an inexperienced player. And like most of the other titles on the list, you’re not told what you could’ve done to avoid death.
Instead, you’re thrown back into a new world, and you have to learn for yourself how to survive, look for wood, make a fire, survive the first night, find food, rinse and repeat till the attacks start either from losing sanity or cutting too many trees and angering the tree God of the fictional world. The game is fascinating and if you haven’t played it yet, check it out. It gets a nice discount on Steam sale days.
Everyone knows about Rust. Released through early access in 2013, it attempted to make a more realistic setting around the Minecraft gameplay loop. It has since changed a lot of things and what it is in my limited purview is a mix of a tactically realistic shooter with some ludicrous Minecraft-esque crafting and building.
While Rust is everything we come to expect from a game on this list, the only horror I have ever experienced is watching a rather newbie base with nothing in it being destroyed by other players on the server. Fun times.
11. ARK: Survival Evolved
Many people confuse Rust and Ark to be similar games, but they are not. Ark is geared more towards PvE mechanics, while Rust is a better PvP game. Ark is overall a much calmer and casual experience, but that doesn’t make it better or worse than Rust. Personally, I like Ark more because I can tame and ride dinosaurs, and nothing beats that.
12. The Long Dark
Another title on the list featuring a low poly art style which prevents it from looking dated and allows people with a potato PC to play it. The best way to experience it for a survival veteran is to forgo the story mode in its entirety and jump into the survival mode. Survival mode turns the game into a roguelike with no restriction on the map and no quests to complete. Your only goal – survive.
It’s not fair to compare the attention detail that this game goes through as a 3D survival sim with other games on this list. But, to put it bluntly, SCUM is the only game here (and perhaps anywhere) with a mechanic going to the loo.
Also, the game has different food sources, and those food sources, like real-life, take different times to digest and have different nutrients. The game is still in the Alpha stages, and even though recent reviews have been somewhat negative, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
14. State Of Decay 2
Another post-apocalyptic zombie setting game. The difference is that you have to set up and manage your community, all the while protecting them from the demons that lurk in the world. Each individual experience is different. As you recruit other people into your community and upgrade their skills, they unlock new skills, you get the loop.
It’s more akin to Final Fantasy in the sense that you have to manage a team (That can grow up to 12 survivors), have them do tasks they are proficient in, level them up and improve their standing in the community.
While having the same hardcore survival mechanics of crafting, building, keeping your community fed etc., it has a rather tedious start before you can join your friends and have some fun, but it’s well worth it.
15. The Forest
What makes The Forest stand out (and not in a good way) is that it is essentially a relatively linear experience. You and your friends are dads to a kidnapped boy after your plane crashed in a mysterious forest. Build, Craft, protect yourself from the “monsters” of the forest while trying to find your boy.
The disappointing part is that once you finish the game, you can beat it the same way multiple times, killing the replayability of a really cool game. I am not saying linearity in video games is wrong, but for a survival game built around all these mechanics, being suitable for only one playthrough is a letdown. I would have preferred if they incorporated a survival mode like The Long Dark.
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