Survival: Fountain of Youth is a single-player first-person survival game developed by Odinsoft and published by Twin Sails Interactive. The game will launch on Steam Early Access on April 19, 2023, with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions aiming to release alongside the PC 1.0 launch following the early access period. Thanks to Sandbox Strategies, I have been playing the game early the past few days and I have enjoyed having more emphasis on the overarching story with excellent cutscenes and voice acting, than just raw survival mechanics.
The typical survival elements of food, water and health are here and as you start to explore and expand, various sicknesses and injuries can plague you. I was reminded of my time in the Amazon with Green Hell. This time though, in Survival: Fountain of Youth we play as a member of Juan Ponce de Leon’s expedition in search of the Fountain of Youth, based on an actual historic event of the Age of Discovery. After a shipwreck, you must learn to survive on deserted lands: from crafting tools, building shelter to hunting prey and fighting off predators.
One of the first interesting choices you make is right before you jump off the sinking ship, you need to make a quick choice to take two items with you out of several tempting choices. You need to choose between things like weapons, a coat, bags of medicine, ammo or provisions, a flint and a fishing rod. I went with the medicine bag and the backpack. No matter what you choose, it will be useful. The bag was good to have more carrying weight straight away, and while I chose the medicine bag, I could have benefited from the coat or the fishing rod but regardless, you will be able to craft everything you need, eventually.
Waking up on a sandy beach amongst pieces of the shipwrecked on the beach, the tutorial does a very good job at introducing you to the survival basics. You can pick up shells and extract mollusks for food, coconuts for food and water, grab leaves and sticks off the beach and harvest basic trees with your bare hands. This gives you enough things to start a fire, make a simple bed and create your first axe and spear. With the spear you can hold right mouse button to aim as you crouch towards some unsuspecting crabs. You can eat their raw meat but there is higher chance of sickness, so cooking it is the way to go. With the axe, you can start chopping up pieces of ship wreckage on the beach. I found it strange though that no matter how large the piece of wreckage was, you always only received three sticks from it.
Back in the introduction, we picked up the captain’s log and some other sheets of paper that gave us some ideas of things to do on the island. There is one clue that has a rough drawing of a section of land that illustrates one of the high clifftops with a massive stone perched on top. Looking up at the huge mountain structure in person was a wonder, and while the frames dropped a few times, which is to be expected for early access, generally the graphics detail is fantastic. When you climb a cartographer’s tree (using a long ladder that came from nowhere), we scan the horizon and are shown a heap of points of interest. These mostly however didn’t save on my regular map.
Here is where the tutorial ends and we are left to fend for ourselves, with some loose objectives to guide our path ahead. It is here where you could stop following the story and just go full survive mode, creating a shelter and expanding from there. Being a single-player game with a decent story so far, I chose to carry on following the few journal entries I had. As we come across things you find in game, like murals or sacrificial grounds, cutscenes will give you more of an insight into the island’s past, and trails and breadcrumbs that previous survivors have left for you. Eventually you find a spyglass and learn that there are small islands within proximity of your main island where you may find more historic items. An option presents itself towards creating a seaworthy raft and exploring beyond the relative safety of this current island, though the choice is entirely yours as to whether you go for that now or keep developing your base.
The day/night cycle was quite quick, and I found I didn’t have much daylight to explore safely, so I created a new bed and fireplace close to overhanging cliffs, under dense trees or in caves. Be sure to drop map waypoints though otherwise you need to remember where they were. I started to suffer from sicknesses due being cold and wet at night-time, or getting bitten by a scorpion that I didn’t see in a dark cave. Thankfully I always had a method of healing given the items I had found so far or resting as I ventured forth. The crafting screen shows you the silhouette of items you haven’t found yet but gives you goals to work towards to make better and more useful things, prolonging your survival.
Crafting progression was relative to how much I explored the island. I didn’t find myself overwhelmed against animals attacking me. Snakes were scary just by virtue of being snakes, so I initially avoided them, but it turns out two good axe throws and a punch for good luck got them. Harpies were an annoyance at first as I didn’t know how to handle them, but again two good blows with my axe sorted them out. They can drop a nice carcass which could be hung in our house, but those are heavy, and I didn’t have the pack space at the time. I found it was a good balance between focusing on surviving to achieve something, like better weapons to defend yourself or more hefty items to start working on building a proper shelter, and then reaching story milestones that rewarded you with new history, information or a cool cutscene.
In this early access version of Survival: Fountain of Youth, we can explore the main island, small islands off the coast and one other major land mass. There are three other major land masses that I can see on the map but are yet to be developed. The developers state on the game’s Steam page, “The full version will include three additional regions with new biomes, animals, resources, puzzles and points of interest. We also intend to expand the crafting system with more blueprints and machines. And, of course, the player will be able to finish the story of finding the Fountain of Youth.”
So far, I am very impressed with the level of survival gameplay on offer despite being in early access. The framerate drops occasionally but otherwise runs well and looks fantastic. I liked the ability to swim underwater which opened more exploration opportunities. I have enjoyed the story cutscenes so far and the overall premise is intriguing and engaging. I am looking forward to more land masses becoming available over the early access period and to learn more about the story. If you’re on the fence, I definitely recommend taking the plunge and exploring the game for yourself.
This early access review utilised a key provided by Sandbox Strategies and Survival: Fountain of Youth will be available on Steam early access from April 19, 2023. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions are aiming to release alongside the PC 1.0 launch following the early access period.