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Survival: Fountain of Youth Review (8 / 10): A Detailed Game Analysis

Survival: Fountain of Youth

At the time of this review, Survival: Fountain of Youth had recently been released into early access – April 19, 2023. I have thoroughly studied all the key mechanics of the game and am ready to share all their intricacies with you. However, as usual, let’s start from the beginning…

The game is being developed by the American indie studio Odinsoft Inc., and published by Twin Sails Interactive and CE-Asia. The developers promise a full game release within a year after Survival: Fountain of Youth’s early access release, specifically in the second quarter of 2024. Well, let’s see if they keep their promise. But for now, let’s learn more about the developers themselves.

A Bit About the Game Developers

According to the official website, Odinsoft is an independent game studio. Its headquarters are in Los Angeles, USA, and the development office is in Antalya, Turkey. A photo taken from the official website shows the development team enjoying a warm get-together. It seems these guys get along pretty well.

Developers from Odinsoft, photo from the official website

Survival: Fountain of Youth is their first game. The company’s team consists of experienced professionals, most of whom have already had experience developing AAA-class games (high-budget projects for a wide audience), and therefore Odinsoft is focused on the quality of the gameplay and an engaging experience for players. At least, that’s what the studio’s official website says. Let’s take a look at how things really are.

Detailed Game Analysis

Honestly, I’m not a fan of writing reviews, because I have to maintain objectivity, and this can sometimes be very unpleasant not only for me but also for people who have to be ruthlessly criticized, as was the case with the Combat Master review, for example. Fortunately, Survival: Fountain of Youth gave me no reason to doubt the competence of its creators and I spent several tens of hours in it with genuine pleasure.

Graphics and Optimization (8 / 10)

The first thing that catches the eye is the colorful graphics and high optimization. This is particularly important as my RX 580 8 Gb graphics card can hardly be called top of the line. Nevertheless, I freely played with 60 FPS on reasonably high, albeit not maximum, graphics settings without any lags or crashes.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

If you asked me to evaluate the visual component of the game as a whole, I would say that it is at a very decent level. In my time, I have played a good number of games, believe me, so I have something to compare it with. Finding yourself washed ashore in Survival: Fountain of Youth, you literally feel like you’re on a tropical island. You’re surrounded by picturesque (even on medium graphics settings) landscapes, cute little animals, and sandy shores of the blue, like the Ukrainian sky, ocean.

Storyline (6 / 10)

The esteemed reader may reasonably object, demanding a convincing explanation for such a low rating of the storyline. Let me explain.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Firstly, I personally am a staunch opponent of having a storyline in sandbox games, as these concepts contradict each other. Sandbox is about freedom of choice and an open world, while the storyline is about “corridors” and sequential progression. I don’t believe in a successful symbiosis of one with the other, although I must admit that Survival: Fountain of Youth has been one of the most successful attempts to realize such a symbiosis.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Secondly, the game lacks full-fledged cut-scenes. Instead of 3D animation, like in The Witcher 3 for example, we are only shown colorful illustrations accompanied by voiced snippets of the fate of Ponce de Leon and other game characters, and are also offered to read all sorts of papers. I don’t know about you guys, but I really don’t like reading papers.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

As for the storyline in general, it revolves around the search for the very Fountain of Youth, and I’m almost certain that the developers deliberately made me recall Pirates of the Caribbean throughout my entire playthrough. But even this fact does not save the game’s storyline in my eyes. If Days Gone is a 10, then Survival: Fountain of Youth is a maximum of 6.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

I should note separately that out of the 5 planned regions of the map, only 2 are currently available to the player: Island of Hope and Buffalo Region. You can read about their completion at the provided links. There, I explain in detail the process of completing all the quests and give advice on the game as a whole.

Difficulty and Artificial Intelligence (5 / 10)

In short: I expected more. I started playing on “normal” difficulty, because after watching the trailer, I expected that as soon as I landed ashore, wild boars, oversized eagles, and saber-toothed tigers would attack me from all sides. However, reality, as always, turned out to be prosaic, and instead of fierce action, I encountered completely harmless animals like the short-eared dog, which dies from the first poke of the simplest spear.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Even jackals, boars, and jaguars, which I met later, could not be considered equal opponents, as their behavior is extremely predictable and their attacks are monotonous. In any unclear situation, you can simply poke the menacingly approaching enemy with a spear, and most often he won’t even be able to harm you. Therefore, I didn’t encounter any serious challenges in this respect.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Perhaps in the future, when developers add the remaining planned regions, new enemies won’t let us take a step! But since there are firearms in Survival: Fountain of Youth, I highly doubt this is possible. After all, we’ll just carry around 2-3 loaded pistols, and within the current logic of the game, this will be more than enough to send even a Tyrannosaurus rex to Valhalla.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

However, there are also positive aspects that pleasantly surprised me. For example, if you shoot a peccary with a bow but don’t kill it with the first shot, it will start running away, gradually weakening, and eventually it will fall to the ground breathless, and you can retrieve the arrow from its carcass and continue hunting.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

At the same time, this became a minus for me, because even in the game I find it absolutely unpleasant to hunt poor piglets who can only run away from you across the entire map. And you should hear how the poor turtles scream when you poke them with a spear… No, guys, I’m too kind for such hunting.

Survival Gameplay (8 / 10)

The gameplay of Survival: Fountain of Youth is a sandbox with plot elements woven in. The player follows quests, but at the same time has a certain degree of freedom.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

The main thing I really liked – items dropped on the ground do not disappear, but stay where you left them! Some may say this is a trifle – not at all. This mechanic allows you not to scatter branches, stones, ores, hides, and logs across chests, but simply stack them in one place, thus organizing an improvised warehouse. Moreover, you can simply drop the saw on the workbench after use and go about your business – it won’t disappear! Personally, I think this is a very convenient mechanic, and other sandbox game developers should adopt it.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Another positive point is the dock system. You can build docks in different parts of the island and “teleport” between them using a boat or a raft. All actions in the game take time, so the ship will lose a bit of durability, and the character – hunger, thirst, and fatigue points.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

What I did NOT like are the carts. A cart is like a cart in Valheim, which the character can drag behind, transporting resources in it. Such things, although useful in terms of efficiency, in my opinion, are harmful to such games, because at some point, you realize that you can’t take a step without this cart. At the same time, a cart cannot be transported between docks, which means you will have to make additional carts and store 1 near each dock.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Another negative point is that the character does not have an objective need to be indoors. Of course, the house protects from rain, wind, heat, and other effects, but if you just put a canopy on the seashore, like I did, then your gameplay will be comfortable in principle.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

For me, this is a big minus because a sandbox game implies construction, and if there is no objective need for it, it’s called “poor implementation”.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Nonetheless, I was quite pleased with my time spent. The character is affected by thirst, hunger, and fatigue, so you will constantly have to monitor your supplies of water and food, as well as get plenty of sleep. Food in Survival: Fountain of Youth spoils over time, but using a Food Dehydrator you can salt it. This way, some food in your boat can last more than a year of game time!

Survival: Fountain of Youth

As for water, it can be obtained in sufficient quantities for survival using Rain Water Collectors or a Water Distiller. The character’s food system turned out to be really good.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Also, there are diseases in the game that the character can contract, and which with a certain chance can progress and develop up to the 4th level. With serious illnesses, the character starts to get tired catastrophically quickly, constantly wants to drink and eat. If the disease is not cured, the character quite easily dies from them.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

And here I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the again absence of an objective necessity in the healing mechanic. After all, if you get seriously ill, you can just kill your character by drowning him in the sea, appear at the bed, pick up the items, and return to your daily chores! I think this is a very stupid mechanic. The character’s death should be permanent. Or he should at least lose all his skills. I notice such blunders in many modern games, and it is very sad to me that developers (not specifically Odinsoft, but in general) cannot understand a simple thing: any action in the game should be objectively motivated, otherwise it is worthless.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Otherwise, if you don’t quibble about the conventions, surviving in Survival: Fountain of Youth is quite interesting. For example, there is fishing with a rod, but to my surprise, I found it completely unprofitable. However, fishing with a harpoon will provide you with food for a month in one trip (if, of course, you manage to salt all the fish before it spoils).

Survival: Fountain of Youth

I also really liked the “artifact system“. When the character progresses through the story and receives a unique item (for example, Columbus’s Spyglass), that item provides the character with some passive bonuses on a permanent basis (for example, it increases mapping range by 25%). This is very cool, and I would very much like to see something similar in all games without exception. The only trouble is that there are not so many “artifacts” in Survival: Fountain of Youth.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

I did not particularly like the “Survival Abilities” system. First of all, the game makes you complete “Survival Tasks” to earn perk points, which is not good for a sandbox. Secondly, at the time of writing this review, the system is still not finished, and some abilities are a bit strange…

Survival: Fountain of Youth

But the character’s “Skills” system is quite good. Almost any activity in the game has its skill, be it Swimming or Sailing, which will gradually level up as you engage in this activity. With each new level, the character will perform the action tied to the skill better and better: for example, hold their breath underwater longer.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

Each skill has special perks that only become available after the character finds and reads the corresponding book. Personally, I don’t mind such a mechanic. But I think the esteemed reader will agree that it is quite strange to find a book at the top of a tree in the middle of an uninhabited island… And it is no less strange, come to that, that the character attaches a rope ladder to the towering Cartographer Tree, standing on the ground. Conventions, conventions, conventions…

Pros and Cons of the Game

The advantages of the game include:

  • Vibrant graphics;
  • An interesting skill and perk leveling system;
  • The ability to store resources directly on the ground without needing to sort them into chests;
  • A modern system of character nourishment and survival;
  • The “artifacts” system with passive bonuses for the character;
  • The opportunity to build docks on different islands and instantly move between them using a ship;
  • Implementation of boats and diving, including underwater hunting with a harpoon.

In my opinion, the downsides of the game are:

  • Lack of farming per se;
  • The mechanic of carts (in which the character drags resources behind them);
  • Too predictable AI and weak beast opponents;
  • “Corridor-like” progression on the global map while the game is a sandbox;
  • Lack of an objectively justified need to build housing;
  • Lack of an objectively justified need for character survival in general;
  • Overly costly crafting and clothing repair with its relatively fast wear;
  • Some oddities in game mechanics (like finding books in antique chests, for instance).

Is the game worth its price, is it worth playing?

As I’ve already mentioned, I enjoyed the game. I’ve spent several tens of hours on it, exploring its mechanics and writing guides for beginners, so overall I’m satisfied. However, bear in mind that at the time of writing this review, the version of the game only has 2 out of 5 planned regions, and the plot abruptly ends.

Survival: Fountain of Youth

If you’re hesitant, I would recommend waiting a couple of months until the developers release several updates with new content.

Frequently Asked Questions about the game (FAQ)

  • Is there multiplayer in the game and is there any plan to add it? At the time of writing this review, Survival: Fountain of Youth does not have multiplayer. In discussions on Steam, the developers have stated they have no immediate plans to work on multiplayer, as it would mean changing a great many mechanics to accommodate multiplayer gaming.
  • What will I be doing in Survival: Fountain of Youth? Mainly – running around the island in search of resources to craft this or that item. In between, you will be completing plot quests.
  • Is it worth playing Survival: Fountain of Youth? In my opinion, yes. Despite some shortcomings, I liked it and can confidently recommend it to fans of survival sandbox games.
  • Where can I buy Survival: Fountain of Youth? The game is available in the Steam store.
  • Are there any NPCs in the game? I didn’t encounter any.
  • Can you tame animals / plant crops? At the time of writing this review, farming mechanics are completely absent.
  • Can you play in third-person mode? No.
  • Does the game support modding? As far as I know, no.
  • Are there many errors and bugs in the game? I didn’t encounter any. Although the developers have released several hotfixes since the game’s release, so some errors might slip through.
  • What difficulty should I start the game on? If I were to start over, I would choose the highest, as “normal” seemed too easy for me. But for you, as a beginner, I would still recommend first getting to know the game on normal difficulty.

I would also love to hear your opinion on this game, so don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments. Thousands of our readers will surely appreciate your alternative point of view. Thanks for reading and happy surviving in Survival: Fountain of Youth! 😎

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