Nintendo is known for its family-friendly games, so we haven’t seen an abundance of survival or horror titles for the system until recent years. The best Nintendo Switch survival games are different than what you’ll find on the PC or other consoles, but bring an interesting mix of strategy and gameplay to the company’s latest system.
|This War of Mine: Complete Edition||Alien Isolation||The Long Dark|
|Developer||11 Bit Studios||Creative Assembly||Hinterland Studio|
|Publisher||11 Bit Studios||Sega||Hinterland Studio|
|Released||November 27, 2018||December 5, 2019||September 17, 2020|
|Flame in the Flood||No Man’s Sky||The Survivalists|
|Developer||Molasses Flood||Hello Games||Team 17|
|Publisher||Curve Digital||Hello Games||Team 17|
|Released||October 12, 2017||October 7, 2022||October 9, 2020|
|Modes||Single-player||Single, Multiplayer||Single, Multiplayer|
Survival Games on the Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch is an incredibly popular system, but one that’s a bit underpowered compared to the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Those limitations keep some games from appearing on the console. While we’ve seen games like Rust make the jump, you won’t find anything that hardcore on the Switch from the survival genre.
Instead, our list is comprised of popular indie titles and a few games from larger studios, including some unique hybrid survival games. Whether you’ve dropped into outer space or a war-torn area, these survival games for the Switch will leave you struggling to make it out alive.
The Best Nintendo Switch Survival Games
- Control your survivors and manage your shelter
- Craft weapons, alcohol, beds or stoves - anything that helps you survive
- Make decisions - an often unforgiving and emotionally difficult experience
- Randomized world and characters every time you start a new game
- Includes "The Little Ones" and "Father's Promise" DLCs
The best Nintendo Switch survival game, emThis War of Mine: Complete Edition/em, is a favorite on a variety of platforms, including mobile phones and consoles.
It’s also a stark game that could leave you in tears, as emThis War of Mine/em can have an impact on your emotions with every session.
emThis War of Min/eme is set in a fictional city gripped by war. You control a house and a group of civilians who are simply trying to stay safe, warm, and fed. Water and foot are constant problems, and have a direct effect on each character’s mood. While you can send party members out to scavenge at night, you may come back empty-handed if you come back at all.
Each character you take in has different traits and skills in the game. Every task is also important, whether you’re fortifying your home or trying to find food. Snipers are also a hazard, but you may need to get past them if you want to trade in certain areas. Sickness, starvation, and depression can be just as much of a problem as intruders and snipers, however.
This award-winning game draws you in from the first time you fire it up. You will lose hours in the dreary world before you’ve realized it. The game also has loads of depth between the Classic, and Stories, a mode that allows you to create your own scenarios in the forlorn world.
Check it out on Amazon here.
- Ditial code only, no physical copy
- Play as Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda as she searches for the truth of her mother's disappearance
- Try to stay alive while being hunted by a ruthless and relentless alien foe
- Storyline takes place fifteen years after events in the movie, Alien
- Improvise solutions to survive and succeed in your mission
We’ve seen several survival games set in space, but not many bring a real horror element into play. emAlien: Isolation/em does that while accomplishing a rare feat.
It’s a “good” movie tie-in game based on a cult classic and a title that is well-received on every platform from smartphones and Luna to the Switch.
emAlien: Isolation/em picks up 15 years after the original movie Alien. The first-person game brings a new character into the franchise with Amanda Ripley, Ellen’s daughter. She’s gone off in search of her mother’s ship, although things do not go as planned. We won’t spoil the story, but rest assured it’s something fans of the franchise will appreciate.
The gameplay in emAlien: Isolation/em requires a lot of stealth, although you can fight back with various weapons throughout the game. Crafting is available through schematics, although your main tool is the motion tracker. That’s because you aren’t hunting the alien in this game, you’re simply trying to survive it and make it out of the game alive.
While emAlien: Isolation/em doesn’t have a wealth of crafting options or base building, it’s a survival game in the truest sense of the word. The base game provides plenty of depth with two modes, but there are around seven additional content packs available that introduced new characters, objectives, and settings.
#4: The Long Dark
The Long Dark is a survival game that brings death on in a quiet fashion compared to other titles in the genre.
No monsters are lurking in the woods. While you might get taken out by a bear, the world itself is the biggest threat.
There are two modes of play in The Long Dark, with Survival and a Story mode set across multiple episodes. Survival is absolutely brutal, and permadeath will come quickly on the highest difficulty setting. The game drops you onto a map in the frozen wilderness with the goal of surviving. You’re still trying to stay alive in Story mode, although it does provide you with a tutorial before you dive into the episodes.
The Long Dark has a full day-night cycle, and you’ll need to constantly keep an eye on your health in the lonely Canadian wilderness. Things like wind chill have an effect on your character along with food poisoning. To make matters worse, tools and clothing degrade, so it’s a constant battle with Mother Nature in this game.
This is another title that originated on Kickstarter before arriving on other platforms. It’s not a game for everyone, but it is one of the best Nintendo Switch survival games when you want a hardcore experience. Survival mode will keep you busy for ages. It’s also a game that leaves you with a satisfying feeling every time you close out a session alive.
emThe Flame in the Flood/em is a unique survival game from The Molasses Flood and Curve Digital.
It’s also one of the more challenging titles to make our list as simply being forgetful can quickly end in death for your character.
This game puts you into the role of a young girl named Scout as she traverses the wilderness with her dog. Your journey takes place on foot and on a raft, which is an interesting twist. Along the way, you’ll need to scavenge and craft to stay alive. You also need to keep an eye on your energy, hunger, and the weather in this quirky little world.
Unless you’re playing in campaign mode, death can be permanent in emThe Flame in the Flood/em. Despite the graphics, it’s a tough game. While your dog can lend a hand, you’ll find yourself headed back to checkpoints frequently. Fire can be helpful, but it can also attract snakes, bringing about another set of problems.
This survival roguelike originally sprang to life as a Kickstarter game but has found its way to a number of platforms since it was released.
- Embark on an epic voyage, find your own destiny in this epic space adventure
- Includes 6 years of updates
- An entire universe to explore on the go in the palm of your hands
- For the first time ever, PlayStation 5 physical edition as well as Nintendo Switch (physical & digital)
emNo Man’s Sky/em is one of those titles that could be considered a borderline survival game, given the strong focus on exploration and adventure.
It borrows elements from a variety of titles, including trading games, but the concept is unique compared to other games in this genre.
An astronaut with amnesia may not sound like a good time, but that’s who you’ll control in emNo Man’s Sky/em. Our traveler has to find and repair their starship so they can travel to other systems of which there are many. The entire world is procedurally generated from the stars to the plants and wildlife you’ll find on planets.
emNo Man’s Sky/em is a game of exploration, but there is combat. You can even become “wanted” if you take things too far in an alien world. Trading is a large part of the game as you’ll use a futuristic multitool to gather resources and there’s a form of multiplayer as well. The company has done a fantastic job of providing content since the game was released, and the Switch Port runs surprisingly smoothly given the scope of the game.
Whether you decide to travel in first or third-person through the world of emNo Man’s Sky/em, there are over 40 hours of gameplay just following the storyline. There are also more than 18 quintillion planets to explore in this open-ended game, so you can play as long you like –– or as long as you can survive.
It’s not your typical survival game, but it’s one of the best Nintendo Switch survival games and fits the console user base perfectly.
Check it out on Amazon here.
- Build together, survive together - complete joint adventures, gain loot, trade and ultimately survive together and as you and up to three fellow castaways explore an island paradise.
- Monkey see, Monkey do! - the mimic system means a wide variety of functions can be performed by your Banana loving friends, with Monkey management becoming key to surviving the island's challenges.
- Get crafty - whether That's piecing together a primitive axes to chop wood or mixing up a refreshing fruit smoothie to keep the hunger at Bay, you can discover recipes and expand your options across...
- Run the gauntlet - what you seek could be in one of the many labyrinths scattered around the island. However, getting your hands on the loot won't be Easy so any would-be Raider will need to prepare...
Some survival games have cutting-edge graphics and apocalyptic landscapes, but you won’t find either of those tropes in emThe Survivalists/em.
Instead, you’ll have to strive to survive in a semi-tropical paradise that consists of a chain full of islands.
This survival simulator follows a shipwrecked survivor on an island filled with monkeys. Thankfully, you can manage those primates to gather resources and take on various other tasks in the game. As you expand your island empire, you can build a raft and explore other islands. The game opens up from here as you can trade, shop for new goods, and build up your base.
There are dangers in the world of emThe Survivalists/em, including man-eating plants and wild animals. Some can be tamed and the crafting system has a surprising amount of depth. Sandbox mode provides ample entertainment on the Switch, but we also found multiplayer a lot of fun when you have three friends to play with.
emThe Survivalists/em is a charming survival game with cute graphics and a kid-friendly atmosphere. It’s not scary like survival horror games or too hardcore for beginners. It’s an excellent fit for the Switch, even if it may feel a little light on survival compared to other games on our list.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Wachiwit.