Not all PUBG and Apex Legends players know that the inception of their favorite genre lies in the iconic 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale. And even fewer know about the existence of Black Survival, a game that is much more like the movie than any other battle royale currently on the market. Besides the thematic parallels with the original, Black Survival has its own deep and unique setting. It also features a diverse cast of characters, and gameplay like nothing else out there.
And yet, it has gone woefully unnoticed by battle royale players at large. Perhaps that is because it launched in February of 2016, more than a year before Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds released and kicked off the battle royale hype storm? The real reason is simpler: Black Survival is a very different kind of game, and many may find if confusing and intimidating to dive into. But if you have the patience to get through the learning curve, you will uncover a game that is well worth the initial time investment.
The classic premise is straightforward enough: 10 players are dropped on an island, only one walks away alive. To ensure the end comes swiftly, different areas go on deadly lockdown at set time intervals. There is no fog or storm to gently sap your life away: if you find yourself in a Restricted area, you die instantly. These areas re-open later on, for the remaining survivors to scavenge through the bodies of those who failed to evaucate on time. While the general gameplay loop may sound simple, it’s the details and presentation that make it complex and so deliciously fun.
Black Survival’s 1D gameplay can be described as a mix between a visual novel and an old-school dungeon crawler. Players move from area to area in real time, searching for items, crafting them into more complex items, and Black-surviving as best they can. While other battle royales essentially play like giant arena deathmatches, Black Survival emphasizes actual survival. And there’s obviously plenty of fighting as well.
There is simply so much to do on the mystery-shrouded Lumia island the action takes place on. Crafting is a huge element of gameplay, and Black Survival has an incredibly robust library of craftable items with different functions. Players manage their health and stamina by cooking various foods, beverages and medical items. Of course, they also put together and enhance weapons, armors and traps for the eventual confrontation. And the depth of Black Survival‘s combat system is considerable. The video below, featuring high level player Noctus, demonstrates this fact.
If you ever don’t feel like doing all the cooking and crafting, there is also classic team deathmatch mode with pre-crafted equipment and items. This mode takes place in an abandoned version of South Korea’s capital, Seoul.
I’d hate to reveal anything, so all I will say of Black Survival’s story is that it is not anything I’ve ever encountered in another game. Some have compared it to the Hunger Games franchise, but the similarities are loose at best. Suffice it to say, this is another aspect in which this game is leagues ahead of other battle royales. Most other games in this genre – even if they have character customization options – let you embody some version of Future Soldier of Marauder Slav. Black Survival instead has a huge cast of unique personalities with deep and interconnected back stories.