The 11 Best Survival Games on Nintendo Switch, Ranked

Collect your wits and try your best to outlive these awesome survival games on the Nintendo Switch.
The 11 Best Survival Games on Nintendo Switch, Ranked

If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

What makes a good survival game? Well, you need to have the right balance of danger, exploration, and rewards that keep you coming back time after time.

Generally, survival games require you to manage not just your hit points but many other systems like hunger, thirst, stamina, etc. That usually means gathering resources, managing your inventory, and crafting items to bolster your capabilities and survive another day.

There are lots of great survival games worth playing on the Nintendo Switch, and it's doubly great because you can take these games with you on the go and play in handheld mode anywhere.

Whether it's in the farthest reaches of space, the deepest depths of the ocean, or somewhere magical and fantastic, here are the best Nintendo Switch survival games to scratch that itch.

11. Windbound

Developed by 5 Lives Studios

Released in 2020

About 15 hours (main story)

63 on Metacritic

Not all survival games are dark and gloomy. In Windbound, Kara sets sail to try to find her way back home. However, it isn't an easy journey and she'll need plenty of both skill and luck to sail from island to island.

As Kara, you'll slowly improve your boat and learn more about an ancient civilization as you hop between islands, always hoping you have enough wind in your sails to find your next meal.

10. Subnautica

Developed by Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Released in 2021

About 30 hours (main story)

87 on Metacritic

The deepest parts of the ocean are as strange and alien as anything you'll find in outer space, so it isn't a surprise that Unknown Worlds Entertainment looked to the seas as the setting for Subnautica.

There are multiple difficulty settings to choose from as you explore a world that's comprised entirely of oceans and filled with dangerous creatures. Though Subnautica technically isn't a horror game, it's so immersive that you'll definitely get spooked at times.

Both Subnautica and the sequel Subnautica: Below Zero are worth playing, even if the original still stands out as the better overall experience.

9. The Flame in the Flood

Developed by The Molasses Flood

Released in 2017

About 8 hours (main story)

75 on Metacritic

Survival games on the Nintendo Switch tend to be difficult, but The Flame in the Flood takes difficulty to a new level.

Here you're stuck on a raft floating down a river. Any supplies you find will have to come from one of the islands you come across, but missing even one of them will likely mean certain death.

Illness, injury, and starvation are constant dangers in The Flame in the Flood, but at least you've got an adorable canine companion to keep you company in this tough roguelike-style game.

8. Green Hell

Developed by Creepy Jar

Released in 2020

About 15 hours (main story)

78 on Metacritic

Many survival games have a hunger mechanic, but nutrition rarely comes into play. For the most part, you're just eating whatever you manage to find to stave off starvation for another night.

In Green Hell, you not only need to track your health and energy levels but also your nutrient intake. If you don't maintain a varied diet, you can succumb to all manner of illnesses.

Plus, almost half of the food you do find is actually poisonous! (Because why not?) The result is that Green Hell ends up being a uniquely realistic and challenging survival game for fans of the genre.

7. Don't Starve

Developed by Klei Entertainment

Released in 2018

About 30 hours (main story)

78 on Metacritic

If Edgar Allan Poe had ever designed a survival game, it would've probably looked like Don't Starve. The art style certainly adds to the horror feel, with a world filled with terrible things trying to eat you.

Your only hope is to live one day at a time, finding enough supplies to keep yourself alive through one more night, all while doing what you can to avoid being devoured by terrifying creatures of the dark.

The only downside to Don't Starve is that it's single-player only, with the multiplayer version being a completely separate game called Don't Starve Together. However, the performance of Don't Starve Together on the Switch is just plain bad, so we don't recommend it!

6. The Long Dark

Developed by Hinterland Studio

Released in 2020

About 20 hours (main story)

76 on Metacritic

Are you strong enough to survive winter in the Canadian wilderness? You'll find out if you play The Long Dark, which drops players into a snowy landscape following a plane crash.

While the Story Mode guides you enough to get around, the real fun of The Long Dark is the Survival Mode.

In this mode, you'll simply need to seek out supplies and avoid the unusually aggressive wildlife for as long as possible. Who would have thought a simple trip to Canada would prove so dangerous?

5. Sheltered

Developed by Unicube

Released in 2018

About 25 hours (main story)

61 on Metacritic

When the end of the world hits, you'll probably want to head for the nearest bunker. However, while bunkers can keep you safe from mutants and outside radiation, they won't keep you safe from the real monsters of the apocalypse—other people.

In Sheltered, you need to manage the resources of a bunker that contains people who will inevitably fight, steal, and cheat to try to keep themselves alive at the expense of others.

There are plenty of difficult choices to make in this unconventional survival game, and most of those choices aren't pretty. Then again, isn't that what survival is all about?

4. This War of Mine

Developed by 11 Bit Studios

Released in 2018

About 10 hours (main story)

80 on Metacritic

This War of Mine is not a game for the faint of heart. It's one of the most brutal depictions of the effects that war can have on a civilian population ever seen in video games.

There are supplies out there for the taking, but you have to make tough choices to get them. Do you steal the medicine that an elderly couple needs to survive? Can you live with yourself if you turn away a family who's desperate for shelter?

This War of Mine is the kind of survival game that isn't just immersive but will stick with you long after you finish playing it.

3. No Man's Sky

Developed by Hello Games

Released in 2022

About 30 hours (main story)

83 on Metacritic

From the moment you wake up on an abandoned planet to the first time you gather enough resources to jump across the stars to when you finally stand at the helm of your intergalactic trade armada, No Man's Sky never ceases to grow in scale.

The universe contained within this game—with its strange lifeforms and mysterious ancient civilizations—feels as big and diverse as our own. With endless crafting and exploration available, it's impressive that they managed to get No Man's Sky running on the Nintendo Switch at all!

2. Minecraft

Developed by Mojang Studios

Released in 2017

About 70 hours (main story)

86 on Metacritic

Minecraft is one of the biggest and most popular gaming properties on the planet, but you didn't need us to tell you that, right?

The thing is, Minecraft is no fluke. Sure, it started as a one-man indie game project, but it has all the necessary elements to make for an immersive, addictive, and creative survival experience.

Minecraft understands that survival games don't need to be grim, difficult, or unforgiving. They just need to be fun! Here, you can build almost anything you can imagine—as long as you don't mind it getting blown up by a Creeper in the middle of the night.

1. Smoke and Sacrifice

Developed by Solar Sail Games

Released in 2018

About 10 hours (main story)

72 on Metacritic

The ultimate message behind most survival games is that nature is brutal, survival is daunting, and humans can overcome it all if they're smart enough and try hard enough.

But Smoke and Sacrifice has a different message in store—namely, that humans can be pretty terrible to each other.

In this game, you're searching for your first-born child who was sacrificed to the Sun God. The search reveals uncomfortable truths, such as the brutal inequalities that are present in class-based societies and how fossil fuels are choking the life out of our planet.

The message can be somewhat heavy-handed at times, but the fact that Smoke and Sacrifice is willing to explore these deeper themes is what sets it apart from other survival games on the Nintendo Switch.