Survival games have come in many shapes and sizes over the years. Many revolve around gameplay loops of crafting, upgrading and crafting some more. I’ve played a lot of these games over the years, both in single player and with friends, but one has stood out from the rest as being something just different enough that it brings me back everytime. Raft (2018), is an open world survival video game developed by Swedish developers Redbeet Interactive, and published by Axolot Games. The game was released as an early access alpha in May of 2018. Unlike most games that are released to Alpha build from small studios, Raft had a great development run, with very regular updates, and as of June 2022 has reached its full release.
Raft’s core gameplay mechanic revolves around floating adrift… on a raft (clever name right?). Unlike most survival games where you must go out and explore away from your base to find crafting items and upgrades, Raft goes against the tide, taking the whole base with you along for the ride.
Primarily most of your time will be spent floating in an endless sea, all while a shark, fittingly named Bruce, tries to tear apart your raft and hunt you down, and throughout the game almost becomes a loveable companion, who is programmed to kill you.
A food and thirst bar are ever present, and will quickly deplete, so it is down to you to make sure your resources are well stocked. This is not a game for people who don’t like hardcore survival games, but is not as hard as many others in the same category.
At times the biggest drag from many survival games is the lack of story, if any story at all. The people at Redbeet decided to go against the current, and decided to make a deep and mysterious story. Throughout the course of the game you will discover massive landmarks that provide just enough bits of information to let you piece things together.
Raft is a vast, and mostly empty, open world sandbox game, you can go anywhere you sea from the moment you load into your world. Randomly generated islands of varying sizes will pop up on the horizon from time to time, which are a gold mine for crafting items and food.
Once you have built your radar array however is where the game pivots, you will be given coordinates to aim too, and this becomes the main objective for the rest of the game.
Because Rafts world feels so empty, these massive landmarks feel epic and so rewarding to get to. Be warned that these landmarks are filled with strong enemies, puzzles and the occasional boss that you need to defeat. Each landmark feels fresh, with a different theme for each one, you can tell the people at Redbeet really took their time in developing these areas, and loved doing it. These areas also provide massive upgrades for your raft, so they are highly worth doing.
Each location will add to the overarching story of the world, and will leave you racing to the next one (quite literally once you start unlocking boat engines).
This game has a multiplayer option, which personally I feel is the best way to play the game, it’s a fun multiplayer experience that up to eight people can play together. This can lead to some interestingly designed rafts, thanks to Raft’s great building mechanics.
In short, if you love survival games, and are looking for something a bit out of the box, Raft offers an experience that no other survival game can offer. With a great story and great design, you and your friends can enjoy this game for hours to come.
Raft is currently only available on Steam, and is now in full release, going for a very reasonable £14.99
(I apologize in advance for the sea puns, but I couldn’t kelp myself… the last one I promise.)