Survival games make the player feel vulnerable through atmosphere, low health, slow movement speed and/or limited supplies. Ammunition, health, and resources are scarce and must be collected and rationed or combined to create new items. You are challenged to find items, explore, solve puzzles, build and react to unexpected encounters from enemies. Chopping wood to build a home and fishing to obtain food are common elements of the genre.
The player can alter the landscape by not only building upwards, but downwards or through mountains. They are free to shape the landscape rather than build around it.
Focuses on survival of the player character as the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambience. Although combat can be part of the gameplay, the player is made to feel less in control than in typical action games.