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I played a survival game that was way too cute for me and still had fun



If you like survival games, you’ll find a large selection of really strong titles on Steam. MeinMMO editor Benedict Grothaus has played one of the new games: Aloft, which doesn’t stick to survival rules at all. But the feeling of freedom that the game conveys convinced him nonetheless – that’s why he’s introducing it to you here as part of Find Your Next Game.

Cozy games are usually enough to keep me busy. Occasionally I play something I really like – like Sun Haven. But usually I need action, looting and leveling and, above all, dark and rough worlds. End-time games are exactly my thing.

Accordingly, I prefer the hard survival games. And I recently discovered two really good gems:

Now the developers have offered me the demo of Aloft, an open-world crafting game in which you control flying islands and fight against mushrooms. Visually, the game is somewhat reminiscent of Zelda, with a bit of Harvest Moon.

Nevertheless, the first images intrigued me. I wanted to know what this huge world was all about and why there was so much open sky to see. The game really surprised me.

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Aloft plays like a “survival light”

Aloft is very different from the survival games I know and usually play. It still has typical features that you know from the genre, such as:

  • a “bare” start without anything, first stones and wood have to be collected
  • By crafting you can then get to the first workbench and archaic tools
  • new resources unlock new recipes and so slowly enough comes together for a small base

From this point on, the similarities with the genre largely end. Eating and drinking are not essential for survival, but provide buffs, similar to Valheim and other modern survival games.

Aloft is not so much about survival as it is about learning about the world and, in a way, saving it. It’s all about exploring floating islands and discovering what our predecessors left behind.

Even better than Enshrouded: I feel the freedom in the air

The biggest feature of Aloft is the movement and that’s what makes the game really great. After a few minutes, there’s the first recipe for a glider stand where I can build a glider and from there it’s off.

With a few pages on my back, I fly through the world from island to island. There are rune stones and frescoes that tell the story of the game and unlock new recipes. I also often only find new resources elsewhere.

But that quickly becomes secondary to my gaming experience, just zooming around in the air is great. Enshrouded, the somewhat hidden survival hit from Germany, already has a glider. But Aloft takes it one step further.

How to fly through the world of Aloft on a glider made of grass

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The gliding here is virtually endless – or at least up to the limits of the demo. And if that’s not enough for you, you can simply convert one of the flying islands into your own airship. All you need is a steering wheel, a rudder and sails, and you can steer your own floating rock.

This is only possible with “small” islands, but even those are big enough to build your own little house and farm on and maybe take a few animals with you.

One detail that I particularly like: Buildings that are somewhere on deserted islands can be learned using a sketchbook as a template. So with a bit of paper I can learn how to build growing boxes for plants myself, for example.

Out with the mushrooms!

Aloft is by no means a peaceful farming simulation. Many of the islands are infested with… something. The boulders are not covered in a friendly green, but dark, black and muddy.

When you land, you’ll find mushrooms and strange plants, with the information: If I want to do anything here, I have to destroy the “nodes” first. These are nasty giant mushrooms that infest the islands.

The fights, at least in their current state, are quite linear:

  • cut a few pustules
  • while avoiding tentacles
  • attack the “head” when it shows itself
  • then fight Adds – little mushroom people who fight back
  • Repeat until all mushrooms are gone

With every victory I learn new fighting moves and can now jump on enemies, throw them into the air and kill them there, or coolly chop them up while sliding. It’s not an absolutely wild fighting system, but it’s a nice contrast to the otherwise peaceful exploration.

Nice demo, but too slim

As much fun as Aloft was for me in the first few hours, it still lacks depth. Exploration is definitely the core theme of the game and this is where the demo unfortunately quickly reaches its limits.

In the middle of the really huge map there is a nasty looking vortex, but you can’t reach it. There also seem to be other biomes, but I couldn’t find any. After a certain amount of time the game simply says: “You have reached the end of the demo.”

At the moment, I don’t know what the long-term motivation is here. If there is a certain story that simply ends at some point, like in Raft, then that would be enough.

Flying through the skies with up to eight people in co-op sounds like enough fun and entertainment for several hours. But only if there is enough to discover – which is missing so far. But at least construction and farming are already there and that will please at least some of my friends.

There is also the option to create your own islands or play in creative mode. So if you aren’t quite as goal-driven as I am, you’ll definitely find more to do here.

I can’t really give a conclusion yet. But if you generally like big games with lots of exploration and, above all, like flying, you should definitely watch Aloft. Just flying around got me excited from the very first moment. The game is set to launch into Early Access on Steam in fall 2024 and is offering a free demo for Steam Next Fest. If you’re looking for something else until the release, you can find the best survival games for PC, PS5 and Xbox here.

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