Ultra Pixel Survive is yet another game joining the survival-crafting genre that has been popular for years now. Rendered in wonderful 2D pixels in a style similar to Terraria, the question is does it do anything different in the genre to justify taking a look?
Now unlike most survival crafting games that aim to provide an intense multi-hour journey with a mind-boggling array of options and resources to collect, Ultra Pixel Survive goes in the opposite direction. Ultra Pixel Survive drops most of the clutter and streamlines the gameplay down to the bare necessities of what the genre is all about – surviving.
There is no story to Ultra Pixel Survive, well none that I could glean at any rate. You’re popped into the world by a cabin in the middle of nowhere and you need to survive. The tools and resources to do so are all around you: trees to chop down, rocks to break, and the occasional animal or vegetable to strike down for food. Of course, it’s not all that simple as each night a horde of monsters lays siege to your humble abode and you have to survive until morning.
And that is Ultra Pixel Survive in a nutshell.
While the crafting options are stripped down to mere necessities and the ability to upgrade your equipment, Ultra Pixel Survive goes overboard with its roster of playable characters. There are eighteen to choose from, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, attacks, and special attacks.
You’ve got everything from a grand old lumberjack to a Slime Girl. Each character can chop wood and break rocks for minerals, but their differing stats determine how fast they can do so. Of more importance are their attack levels, HP, and attacks themselves as it determines a big part of your play style at night.
All these characters can also be upgraded. Monsters drop cash that can be used to level them up on the character select screen or to buy more red gems used to unlock new characters. Thankfully, these gems also drop in-game from chests that spawn when you successfully survive a night so you’re always making some progress. Though, if you feel like really roughing it, there’s a permadeath option!
Ultra Pixel Survive doesn’t give you anything in the way of instructions, but its gameplay loop and crafting options are very easy to figure out. It offers a simple list of craftable items that makes life a lot easier to deal with. As such, the biggest enemy of survival is adequate planning.
Food will be your number one priority as your hunger meter gradually decreases and, if it empties, you’ll quickly starve to death. Food is randomly available in the world, from cows and chickens to corn and berries but if you only rely on these spawns, you’ll be at death’s door lickety-split – so that means planning how to spend your time in the day. You’ll need to prioritise farming, as simple as it is mechanically, to remain fed and keep your health up. After that, you’ll need to start prioritising defences as the later enemies can decimate you quickly.
You see, the longer you survive, the tougher the mobs become as new monsters are added to the spawn pool, and after every couple of nights, a boss monster will show up. Thankfully you don’t have to go it alone as companions will join you after a set amount of levels. They level up as well with each monster killed and are paramount to staying alive. One neat touch is that they’re basically indestructible and don’t require much looking after once you’ve got them.
Your cabin is your safe haven and where you’ll save your game but there’s no hiding until morning as time pauses. It does, however, allow you some leeway for mild cheating. Jumping in immediately resets the position of random spawns outside of both monsters and resources so technically, you can jump in at the site of a monster, then jump out and wait until another shows up, jump back in, and repeat until it’s daytime. Of course, you’re skipping out on the XP to level up this way.
If you’re really struggling, a more significant exploit involves the way most things work on a timer or have a health bar, such as defensive walls that eventually break, or your campfire that only lasts for a minute. If you jump in and out of your house before either of those numbers hit zero, they reset!
If you’ve played Minecraft or Terraria, or even any of the big 3D survival games like Ark: Survival Evolved, you’ll know what to expect from Ultra Pixel Survive. What it does really well is in stripping its gameplay back to the core mechanics and turning the gameplay loop into an endurance test. The gameplay loop is pretty simple – farm, mine, build and fight – but it works especially well in short bursts of playing. While it is short on content overall, that loop of unlocking characters and surviving just that little bit longer ends up being surprisingly addictive.
Ultra Pixel Survive was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4/5 and Xbox One/Xbox Series.
Ultra Pixel Survive (Switch) ReviewUltra Pixel Survive (Switch) Review
- Eighteen characters to play with
- Stripped down, focused gameplay loop
- Perfect for short bursts
- Limited content overall