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Games like The Forest to keep on surviving through

(Image credit: Endnight Games)

In a crowded genre of games that drop you into hostile environments with nothing but a set of primitive tools, The Forest stands out. Its smart AI cannibals, dense greenery and inventive story make exploring its world both fascinating and terrifying, while a smart crafting system gives you plenty of control over where you hang your mining hat. If you’ve enjoyed playing it, you might be looking for more games like The Forest, which is where this list will come in handy.

The survival genre is full of duds, and sifting through the junk to get to the gems can feel like punching rocks. Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you, and on this list you’ll find a bunch of excellent survival sims like The Forest that give you a similar sense of wonder, dread, and ownership over the slither of the world you carve out for yourself.

Here are the 10 best games like the Forest.

The Long Dark

(Image credit: Hinterland Studios)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Your plane crashlands in a vast, inhospitable land, and you awake, alone, to wreckage and fire around you. Sound familiar? It’s not just The Long Dark’s setup that fans of The Forest will love – it has a solid episodic story mode, in which you search for a missing friend in the frozen wilderness, as well as a sandbox mode in which you can explore, gather resources and craft to your icy heart’s content. 

The Canadian wilds are just as dangerous as The Forest’s tropical island. Wolves and bears aren’t as creepy as cannibals, but they’re just as deadly, and you’ll spend many a treacherous night huddling next to a fire, listening to distant howls with trepidation. It’s the believable setting that stars, here, and the stories that naturally emerge from it. Managing resources and tracking your hunger, thirst and energy never gets in the way of exploring the world, and it makes for one of the best survival games you can play right now.

ARK: Survival Evolved

(Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

ARK will be too grindy for some players, but it’s worth checking out if you enjoyed gathering resources and crafting gear in The Forest. You awake on the beaches of a distant island with one goal: survival. But once you’ve set up a stable food and water supply, you’ll have broader ambitions. ARK’s world is as enticing as The Forest because of all the dinosaurs that roam its lands. Most can kill you in a few swipes but if you’re able to tame them, they’ll make island life much easier, helping you gather tons of food in minutes and protect your base from raiders (a T-Rex might just be the world’s best bodyguard).

It’s an inherently social game, too. You can play solo, but just like in The Forest, it shines when you team up with friends to complete your goals. Some players will, inevitably, just be out to ruin your day, but as a newbie you’re bound to find a more experienced player willing to take you under their wing and let you ride on their Pteranodon.

Rust

(Image credit: Facepunch Studios)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4

There’s only one group more evil than The Forest’s gangs of cannibals: other players. Rust trades in smart AI enemies for even smarter, crueller, human ones by dropping you in a vast multiplayer server with nothing but a rock and a torch. You know the drill: bash rocks and trees, build crafting tables, hunt down rare resources and, slowly, acquire better and better gear. Eventually, you’ll be wielding powerful guns and wearing thick armor. Those other players make Rust feel tense and interesting, and create plenty of opportunities for mischief.

One of the best ways to get better loot is to straight up rob other humans. That might involve catching them as they’re gathering resources, downing them with a few well-placed headshots. Or, if you’re feeling really sneaky, you might wait for them to go offline, blow their base to smithereens and grab anything valuable from their chest. Rust proves that hell really is other people.

Conan Exiles

(Image credit: Funcom)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Conan Exiles is arguably the harshest survival game on this list. If the wolves, wooly mammoths or giant club-wielding bosses don’t get you, another, higher-level player will. And if you somehow survive, bleeding out with a broken leg, the desert sun will parch your bruised body. But, like The Forest, its world calls to be explored. In The Forest, story tidbits littering the map keep you moving forward, but here, it’s a sense of wonder and mystery in the landscape, which runs from lush forests to desert expanses to precarious paths across volcanoes.

It’s certainly not for everyone. It pairs its harsh early hours with a punishing grind for resources, and crafting some items requires hours and hours of harvesting beforehand. But it’s just about worth it, especially if you can jump on a private server, friend in tow, and set off into the wide world together.

Don't Starve

(Image credit: Klei Entertainment)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, mobile devices

The bones of Don’t Starve are classic survival, either solo or co-op: a harsh world where you must gather resources, stave off hunger and battle monsters in the dark. But the unique art style sets it apart, turning what would otherwise be mundane animals into curiosities, rivers into pop-ups straight out of a children’s fairytale. It can be supremely punishing when it wants to be, and when you die, you have to start all over again. The visuals make monsters more silly than scary, but you still want to steer clear at all costs, and if your sanity dwindles your mind will make enemies out of ordinary bushes and shadows.

Sandbox is the default mode, but there’s an Adventure mode if you want to uncover a story. And like The Forest, it’s fantastic in co-op. Its standalone multiplayer expansion, Don’t Starve Together, rebalances items, and feels like the best version of an already excellent game. 

Minecraft

(Image credit: Mojang)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, mobile devices 

On the surface, Minecraft looks simple and, at the right time of day, serene. But it’s also an unforgiving survival game when you dial the difficulty up. Taking on one too many skeletons will get you killed, and you’ll drop all your gear in the process. Mining the wrong block can lead to a swim in lava, meaning any precious diamonds in your pocket are lost forever. And in the dead of night, among the trees, it can also be a unnerving game in which the hiss of an explosive creeper makes the hair on your neck stand to attention.

If you enjoyed planning and constructing your base in The Forest, you’re going to love Minecraft’s building tools, which are completely freeform and let you create virtually any project you can imagine, from humble shack to a replica of the Pyramids of Giza. If you’re after more adventures in caves, then Minecraft again has you covered: you’ll sneak through abandoned mineshafts, deep ravines and snaking canyons in search of goodies, slaying monsters as you go. It doesn’t have a story to speak of, but when it comes to collecting resources, surviving hostile biomes and building a dream home, Minecraft is the best in the business.

Subnautica

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4

One of our favourite things about The Forest is how it blends traditional survival gameplay with a gripping story, something few games in the genre even attempt. Subnautica takes the same approach and, arguably, executes it better, doling out tasty clues that keep a sense of mystery, but reveal enough of a grander tale to keep you pushing onward. Being at sea is, naturally, very different to being on dry land, and you have fewer tactical options for where to build your base. But when you start constructing your HQ you’ll find the tools satisfying, and you get plenty of freedom for placing items exactly where you want them.

It doesn’t have co-op, sadly, but between managing resources and exploring the ocean around you, there’s more than enough going on to keep you busy as a solo player. Its underwater world is teeming with colourful fishes, but don’t worry about it being too tame: when a deep-sea tentacled monsters skirts your peripheral vision, you’re bound to need a change of scuba suit.

Green Hell

(Image credit: Creepy Jar)

Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Green Hell is perhaps the game that most closely resembles The Forest on this list. It has lots of trees, human enemies native to the island, plenty of crafting and resource management, a sanity system, and a good, distinct story. But it takes survival elements further than even The Forest dares. 

Rather than simply keeping up your food intake, you have separate meters for proteins, carbs, fats, and hydration – each displayed cleverly in a high-tech watch – as well as a host of problems that affect each of your limbs. If you look at your left arm, you might find a nasty spider rash – at your right, and you’ll discover a pair of blood-sucking leeches. It’s not as creepy as The Forest, but it’s just as unforgiving, with mean animals that will rip you apart given half the chance. Plus, the narrative is genuinely good, with proper cutscenes that remind us of a AAA action-adventure. 

Raft

(Image credit: Redbeet Interactive)

Available on: PC

Raft is still in Early Access, but it’s the best game in a growing sub-genre of primitive open water survival games. You start with nothing but four squares of wood beneath your feet and a hook in your hand. From there, you sling your hook into the sea, pulling in junk and barrels of goodies that you can use to craft water purifiers, grills, fishing rods, and more. Soon, you’ll be fully self-sufficient, and your only worry will be the small matter of a giant, man-eating shark circling around you at all times.

That shark, along with other animals you face when you step onto the occasional island, keep the threat level high. You leave your raft at your peril. Thankfully, a flexible building system means you can design your craft how you want, and like The Forest, playing co-op completely changes the tone, turning what can be a nerve-wracking game into one that’s social, slapstick, and frequently amusing.

No Man’s Sky

(Image credit: Hello Games)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4

You can think of No Man’s Sky like a palate cleanser: a colourful dessert for when you’ve finished the main course of cannibals, endless death and hopeless despair. It used to be cool to make fun of No Man’s Sky, which felt flimsy at launch, but it’s now a properly good game that comes close to living up to the developers’ lofty promises. It’s sci-fi survival in a near-infinite, procedurally-generated universe – you fly from planet to planet, gathering resources, seeing the stunning sights and trying not to become food for massive alien creatures.

Like The Forest, it’s more focused than a pure sandbox, with a sense of story that makes it clear what you should do next, even as the stars beckon. But it will still scratch your itch for resource gathering and complex crafting. With an ever-expanding set of tools, you crack and mine tons of weird resources and turn them into your very own space base, complete with weird gizmos and whirring gadgets. In many respects, it’s a world away from The Forest – but fans of one will find joy in the other.

Sam's gaming PC is literally held together with masking tape, and he bought his PS4 from a friend of a friend of a (dodgy) friend for a tenner. He wishes that games still had paper manuals, mainly so he could get the satisfaction of ignoring them. He grew up in Essex, and now lives in London.