Survived By is a game I stumbled upon after clicking my way through the discovery queues and “More Like This” lists you can find within the storefront of Steam. Described as a “free-to-play online bullet-hell style roguelite” on the Steam store’s product page, it seemed to cover a number of game genres I enjoy – okay, the “free-to-play” label sounded a few alarm bells… but the idea of running around with other players, shooting various foes and exploring a large map sounded interesting. I never really checked out Survived By in its alpha form, but after reading about the game’s premise, I added it to my Steam wish list so that I could be notified when the game was available, and on the 5th of December I received an email that told me Survived By could be played in early access form, so I had a little look at it last week.
Survived By: early gameplay
Controlling the game with mouse and keys, you spawn into a central area with other players, and then you can set out to explore the world and fill out the map. In combat, you move with WSAD and aim and shoot with the mouse, and you can collect items and materials by walking over them. In the central area there are daily challenges that ask you to do x amount of damage or kill y number of enemies, and there are also “quests” that periodically occur whilst you are playing – usually these quests involve following a waypoint to a particular enemy and then defeating it. After playing for long enough and obtaining keys you eventually manage to unlock one of the dungeons (which has a suitably impressive name like “Monastery of the Rift”) – here, you enter a closed area such as a cave, move through winding paths that may lead to dead ends, collectibles or more enemies, and eventually you’ll reach and defeat a boss creature and gain items and gold as your reward before you head back to the public central area.
Survived By: exploration and pacing
From my time playing, that central area was one of the more impressive aspects of Survived By – the shadowy incomplete map segments invite you to go further outside of the safer areas and find stronger enemies that may drop better rewards or give more experience, and my attempts to complete the map often lead to an early demise. Being a roguelite, death can see a player losing their character and having to create a new one that starts with no experience, so there’s always a certain amount of tension when venturing outward. That “bullet-hell” label might not result in Cave levels of insanity, but areas can get pretty busy with enemies and projectiles. The main concern I have at the moment is how the genre-blending could affect the pacing. In a multiplayer online game built around levelling and customisation, you want to find bigger and stronger challenges, but in a roguelite you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Survived By is both, and some players might find death somewhat punishing after they’ve gained a good number of levels. Although, that’s kind of the idea. I don’t know if it’s the kind of game that I could play for days on end, but it’s got enough going on to keep me curious, and I might drop back in on occasion to see how the game is developing. Right now, anyone can go onto the Steam store and take a look for themselves, but you will need to spend a few minutes registering and setting up a (free) account.