Welcome to this thread. Nothing here will be certain. Everything is up for discussion. Not every game that calls itself a survival romp or a post-apocalypse nightmare will be entered, but that doesn't mean the list is fixed. It will be organic. Entries might be taken off this list and moved into the honorable mentions section. They might later be moved back to the entry section.
So, what makes a survival game? The mechanics? Is it the theme? Limited resources might not be what makes the entirety of a survival game but it's hard to imagine a survival game without this feature.
Some real-time strategy games have elements of making-do with what-you-got. Some Starcraft 2 multiplayer training missions give you finite resources to complete an objective. Does this make Starcraft 2 a survival game? Does a Skyrim modded with extra survival mechanics make Skyrim a survival game?
And what makes a post-apocalypse game? This question is easier to answer, but the ones with fleshed-out entries, will be the ones offering a strong post-apocalyptic experience. Other titles will earn a spot in the honorable mentions.
Everything is up for discussion but not everything will be decided by debate.
A Valley Without Wind
A Valley Without Wind 2
Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead
I Am Alive
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl
The Banner Saga
The Last Of Us
The Last Stand
The Last Stand 2
The Last Stand Union City
The Last Stand Dead Zone
The Long Dark
The Walking Dead
UnReal World RPG
Fallout: New Vegas
Stalker: Clear Sky
Stalker: Call of Pripyat
State of Decay
Stranded Without A Phone
The Flame in the Flood
Infestation: Survivor Stories
Stranded Without A Phone
A Valley Without Wind
Following an ice age and a lot of horrible crap the human survivors of Environ have crawled out of their holes to find their world changed - for the worse. The goals range from re-building villages one block of wood at a time to saving people to blasting the heck out of monsters and robots. Oh, and there's a weird form of perma-death.
[size=30]A Valley Without Wind 2[/size]
The world went ka-blewey and you and whatever survivors you can find are trying to pick up the pieces. Your game starts with you as the servant of a powerful demon you will someday face. Tom Chick at Quarter To Three called this "a survival horror strategy game about refugees trying to survive a cataclysm in progress."
Vic Davis's Armageddon Empires sells the idea of survival in a post-apocalyptic future where aliens have blasted the world. Caught between warring xenos, mankind must make do with extremely limited resources. The scarcity of supplies and the random hostility - this game has got it. And it's a turn-based card-game to boot! The later and free additions add cultists that can steal your units and a fuel rule. The larger your mechanized force the greater the cost to move it around.
According to Giant Bomb, the plot has you saving the world's mutants from extermination. And you fight giant ants.
[size=30]Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead[/size]
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a rogue-like set in a post-apocalyptic world. Flesh eating zombies are neither the strangest nor the deadliest threats you'll face. You may try to eke out an existence in the forests silently executing threats and providing sustenance with your longbow. Or you can ride into town in a jerry-rigged vehicle, all guns blazing.
An isometric game, still in development, where the zombies are like a bad storm- they are present but as long as you pay attention you can stay safe. The difficulty comes in keeping your survivors alive at home base. Keeping them warm, fed, medicated and rested. And when food runs out you get to decide how it's divvied up - do you feed the ex-cop or the doctor? Do you kick out the widow? When you go outside you got to keep quiet, keep your head down and hope you don't get trapped or cornered.
Starve or venture out for food but you'll be risk being eaten by zombies. A menu-and-map browser game this gem has been around a long time. I've played it twice and it can get quite difficult to keep a community alive. Teamwork and co-ordination are what will save the day rather than a lone hero acting alone. The town well will need maintenance, the walls will need repairs, there will never be enough nails for construction projects - whatever you think a real zombie-proof town needs this game makes you go out and get it. It's not a graphical powerhouse but the stories that come out of the inevitable slides into disaster have been memorable. Oh, and it's free, although there is a pay system that enables upgrades, etc.
"Play as Wilson, an intrepid Gentleman Scientist who has been trapped by a demon and transported to a mysterious wilderness world. Wilson must learn to exploit his environment and its inhabitants if he ever hopes to escape and find his way back home. Enter a strange and unexplored world full of strange creatures, dangers, and surprises. Gather resources to craft items and structures that match your survival style. Play your way as you unravel the mysteries of this strange land."
Welcome to the wasteland. Fallout 3 is set 200+ years after the bombs fell on America. From out of an underground Vault comes you. There, that's the official description. The most memorable parts of Fallout 3 were after I strolled through Washington, D.C., or what was left of it. The blasted-out Library of Congress. The crumbling Washington Monument. It was the desolation that I remember most of all. Gotta love drinking irradiated cola.
[size=30]I Am Alive[/size]
In a world gone ka-bloo-ee an ordinary dude tries to find his wife and daughter. This downloadable title has you finding water, food, gas, medicine, climbing gear, weapons, etc. Stamina is a big deal here as well.
Metro 2033 is post-nuclear war Russia. Those that survived the fallout did so by hiding underground in Moscow's subway and underground train system. Years after the conflict ended people make do by scraping by and scavenging for supplies. When not fighting each other for resources, or combating ravaging mutant-things, the civilized survivors venture topside into the cold and radiation of a nuclear winter to search for resources. If you wanna live you will scrape, scavenge and save everything you get. If you play this game on the hardest difficulty, especially when you are topside, you will know what it means to survive. Life on the surface can be measured in seconds thanks to the cold and radiation. This is a game that uses the good ammunition as currency. Do you want to buy a filter for your mask? Or do you want to save that bullet for the next mutant?
The founder of Blue Bottle Games worked at BioWare for seven years on AAA RPGs. Anthile, a reader of Rock Paper Shotgun describes the game as Hexes & Hobos. Your first car? A shopping cart. Your first backpack? A plastic grocery bag. When is your first bout of mild hypothermia? The first night.
Stay alive for as long as possible. Your options range from finding nails, a hammer and loose boards to sealing yourself in your home-fortress or running down the streets one step ahead of the shuffling undead mob. Almost everything you find can be manipulated in some fashion.
[size=30]Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl[/size]
In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power station had a meltdown which led to evacuation. In 2006 a second explosion occurred and from this came waves of mutated creatures, deadly radiation and pulses of strange energy. Called the Zone, the area was sealed up tight by the Russian military. In 2012 reports of bizarre artifacts led to incursions by armed men. Over time these individuals became known as Stalkers. While there is a single-player campaign for this first-person shooter, many players just spend time roaming Chernobyl, looking for that ammo cache or a hunk of sausage.
From former Stalker 2 developers comes Survarium. Here is some English text translated from Russian (I think it's Russian - at least that's what Google Translate thinks it is). "Survarium - it free2play MMO-first-person shooter, which is set in the near future. The game is built around a large-scale environmental catastrophe on Earth, which reliably causes are unknown. Impenetrable Forest with all parties coming to the city, crazed animals and birds are attacking industrial complexes, military installations, depots and power plants. Strange plants and fungi grow through concrete and iron. Scientists around the world trying unsuccessfully to cope with the anomaly, sprawling on the earth at an alarming rate. State of decay, anarchy sweeping the world. Now the power to decide who survived."
[size=30]The Banner Saga[/size]
The Banner Saga is a Viking-themed tactical game. The core is a single-player campaign of turn-based combat engagements (inspired by games such as Final Fantasy Tactics) with the player controlling and being able to build up a party of characters with complementing abilities. What I Heard is the game revolves around a tribe of Norse-like folk and their mythical allies fleeing the end of the world. Or at least the end of everything they know of. Constant loss and tragedy beset them in their attempt to survive.
[size=30]The Last Of Us[/size]
Ellie and Joel stay alive by hiding and fighting, only when necessary, in a world ripped apart by a deadly fungal growth. Whoever isn't infected and turned into savages become ruthless survivors. Inspirations for game play and art style have been inspired by No Country for Old Men, The Road and The Walking Dead.
[size=30]The Last Stand[/size]
Should you look for weapons, finish a barricade or find survivors? That's during the day. At night, it's time to hold-up in your small fortress and pray for daylight. Zombies are coming. This is the first title in The Last Stand series. Each sequel had the same combat mechanics but the developer expanded on the survival aspects: more things to do to try and stay alive. For those looking for a simpler experience in the survival genre they should start with the The Last Stand, then try their luck at the second, third and fourth game in the series.
[size=30]The Last Stand 2[/size]
The Last Stand 2 offers the same style of combat with added survivors helping out with the gunplay. Or you can get them to hold a chainsaw. The player will need to find supplies, risk losing survivors and keep an eye on the countdown clock. You've got 40 days to make it to a safer location or else be left behind in a world of shambling corpses.
[size=30]The Last Stand Union City[/size]
1) Guns? Check. 2) Scarcity of ammo? Click. Damn. Empty. 3) Reliance on claw hammers and baseball bats? You bet. 4) Duct tape, nails and a board? Yup. 5) Needing to eat (like a lot)? *munch munch* 6) Tired? Better get some sleep. The story has you going from left to right through the remains of Union City looking for your girlfriend or boyfriend and getting them out of town. Along the way you meet NPCs, remains of your neighbours, military forces, etc.
[size=30]The Last Stand Dead Zone[/size]
The Last Stand Dead Zone has base construction, resource gathering, zombie battles and PvP. After choosing your survivor you have to establish a home base with all the amenities. Without creature comforts, such as available food and water, the morale of your gathered survivors will suffer.
[size=30]The Long Dark[/size]
The Long Dark is an exploration-survival experience that challenges players to think for themselves as they explore an expansive frozen wilderness in the aftermath of a global disaster.
[size=30]The Walking Dead[/size]
A world without electricity, running water, medical aid, telephone service, etc. Watch out for the walkers and keep a close eye on your friends. Every decision you make has an impact. You never know when something you decided on earlier, will come back to bite you later.
Play a chick with and against other animals? Does it grow up to be a chicken? A rooster? Tokyo Jungle is a survival action game that takes place in a deserted Tokyo. Time proceeds pretty quickly and you grow, fight, eat and mate. Your young will also play a role in whether not your game session continues.
A rogue-like where you carve a life out of a northern wilderness. Cooking and hide-working skills and speaking to strangers will go a long way to staying alive and being able to trade in this Finnish RPG.
An isometric RPG that continues the story of those living in a post-apocalypse wasteland. "Deck out your Ranger squad with the most devastating weaponry this side of the fallout zone and get ready for maximum destruction with the RPG-style character advancement and customization that made the first Wasteland so brutal. Save an ally from certain death or let them perish... the choice is yours, but so are the consequences."
"Wayward is a turn-based, top-down, wilderness survival roguelike currently in beta," and "In Wayward, there is a large focus on simulation, survival and openness."