The survival game genre has always been a surefire hit if you’re looking for something that can keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat.
The continuous succession of challenges and heart-pounding moments is sure to captivate any fan from the beginning to the end of each episode.
And while not an anime, the “recent” worldwide success of Squid Game has certainly contributed to the popularity of this genre.
But without further ado, let’s dive into our personal recommendations for the best survival game anime that you simply can’t miss, based on our personal experiences and tastes.
Table of Contents
15. King’s Game the Animation
King’s Game the Animation is a survival game anime released in 2017, encompassing elements of horror, splatter, and the supernatural.
The story revolves around Nobuaki Kanazaka and his classmates, who receive a message from an anonymous person called the King. The message contains orders that must be carried out, with death as the consequence for refusal.
As the game progresses, the orders become increasingly twisted and challenging, unveiling numerous mysteries along the way.
While King’s Game the Animation can be considered an average survival game anime, it falls short in terms of originality. It relies heavily on conventional elements and clichés of the genre, offering little innovation.
As a result, the overall experience can be described as mediocre, lacking the spark to truly stand out, unfortunately.
14. Danganronpa Series
This 2013 animated adaptation of Danganronpa helped to further popularize the already highly successful videogame in Japan.
The story of the first series revolves around Makoto Naegi, a student who enrolls in Hope’s Peak Academy, a renowned institution for talented individuals.
However, his first day takes a dark turn when he loses consciousness and wakes up in an empty classroom, thrust into a deadly game.
In this game, if a student successfully commits murder without being caught during the subsequent class trial, they are granted freedom. If they are discovered, they face execution while the game continues.
While the Danganronpa videogames are highly regarded and beloved, the first animated adaptation falls short in comparison and can be considered decent at best.
Two series are anime-only, namely Future Arc and Despair Arc, plus a conclusive OVA, named Hope Arc.
While these 3 productions are nice and you need them to finish Danganronpa, we recommend you play the first game instead of watching the anime.
13. Riddle Story of Devil
Riddle Story of Devil is an anime adaptation of a seinen manga that incorporates elements of action and survival games. With 12 episodes, it was released in 2014.
The story takes place at Miyojou Academy, a peculiar all-female school. Among the different 10th-grade classes, there is the Kurogumi, a class comprised entirely of aspiring female assassins whose objective is to eliminate one of their fellow students, Haru Ichinose.
Tokaku Azuma, a new transfer student, also shares the same goal but gradually develops feelings for Ichinose.
Riddle Story of Devil is a unique and distinctive survival game anime that intertwines its survival game plot with a yuri romance component, which is unexpected in this genre.
This combination adds a twist to the experience, making it less focused on pure thrills but offering a unique aspect that sets it apart from others in the genre.
12. Magical Girl Raising Project
Magical Girl Raising Project is a 12-episode anime released in 2016, based on a light novel series by Asari Endo. It presents a unique blend of the survival game genre, magical girl themes, and videogame elements.
The story revolves around a game called Magical Girl Raising Project, where players have a 1-in-10,000 chance of becoming a Magical Girl with incredible powers.
However, the administration decides that there are too many Magical Girls and initiates a plan to reduce their numbers.
This sets the stage for fierce competition among the existing Magical Girls, turning it into a battle for their very lives.
Magical Girl Raising Project stands out as a distinct survival game anime, offering a refreshing take on the genre, so if you’re seeking something different from the usual, this anime may be a perfect choice.
If you’re a fan of the magical girl genre, it’s definitely a series you shouldn’t miss.
11. Friends Games
Friends Games is one of the most recent survival games anime, which aired in 2022 and concluded after 12 episodes.
Yuichi and his four friends decide to save money for a trip together. However, one day, the money mysteriously disappears, causing tensions and conflicts among them.
Amidst their confusion and anger, the group wakes up to find themselves trapped in the Friends Games, a series of intense psychological challenges designed to destroy them.
But who is behind their involvement in this twisted game?
Friends Games takes the classic elements of the survival game genre and weaves them into a unique storyline filled with gripping psychological themes.
As you follow the characters through their harrowing trials, you can’t help but experience a whirlwind of emotions.
10. Darwin’s game
Darwin’s Game is one of the recent additions to the survival game anime genre, having premiered in 2020 with 11 episodes.
The story follows Kaname Sudo, who receives a mobile game invitation from his friend Hamada. Unbeknownst to him, accepting the invitation triggers a series of events, and he is bitten by a snake that emerges from his phone.
Despite the warnings from his friend Kyoda, Kaname opens the app again and finds himself thrust into a deadly battle against a panda mascot.
Now immersed in a life-or-death game, Kaname must quickly adapt and learn to navigate this dangerous world if he wants to survive.
While the plot and premise of Darwin’s Game may seem familiar compared to other entries in the genre, as you may notice, this anime manages to execute them effectively.
It captivates the viewers and maintains a sense of mystery that keeps them engaged until the very end.
Btooom! is a highly acclaimed survival game anime that premiered in 2012 and consists of 12 episodes. It skillfully blends the elements of a classic survival game with videogame dynamics and an enjoyable touch of romance.
The story follows Ryouta Sakamoto, a young unemployed man who spends most of his time immersed in an online video game called Btooom.
One day, he awakens on a mysterious island with a crystal embedded in his hand. He soon realizes that he is trapped in a real-life version of his beloved game, where the objective is to eliminate seven other players in order to secure their escape.
As Ryouta navigates through the treacherous virtual world, he forms an alliance with Himiko and together they strive to survive while unraveling the mystery behind their captivity.
Btooom! combines the thrilling elements of a survival game with intense action and nods to videogame culture, offering an innovative and enjoyable experience that we highly recommend.
8. Future Diary
Future Diary, released in 2012, is a highly popular anime that combines psychological romance with survival game elements.
The story follows Yukiteru Amano, an introverted and despairing boy who uses his cell phone diary to communicate with his imaginary friend, Deus Ex Machina, the god of time.
But when Deus suddenly gains consciousness and starts predicting the future, a deadly survival game begins.
Participants must eliminate each other and destroy their opponents’ future diaries in order to become the new god of time and space.
Future Diary is undeniably one of the most renowned survival game anime and has become a classic in the genre.
Whether you love it or hate it, its impact and significance in the survival game genre can’t be ignored.
7. Blue Lock
Blue Lock is an excellent anime with a recently concluded first season of its animated adaptation that takes a unique approach by combining the survival game genre with soccer.
After the humiliating performance of the Japanese national team in the 2018 World Cup, the Japanese soccer federation initiates a program to discover the future soccer star for the upcoming 2022 World Cup.
In this pursuit, 300 strikers are gathered in a prison-like facility to undergo rigorous training and trials that will test their determination.
The story revolves around the main character, Isagi Yoichi, a striker driven by a desire for revenge following his team’s defeat.
Blue Lock is a unique anime, really. Its fusion of the sports genre with survival game dynamics is truly one-of-a-kind, offering a fresh and unparalleled experience.
Whether you are a fan of soccer and sports anime or enjoy the intensity of the survival game genre, Blue Lock is an absolutely must-watch.
6. Deadman Wonderland
Deadman Wonderland is a 12-episode survival game anime that was released in 2011, based on the manga series by Jinsei Kataoka.
The story follows Ganta Igarashi, the protagonist, and his classmates as they visit an amusement park called Deadman Wonderland during a field trip.
However, a mysterious man brutally murders Ganta’s classmates, and Ganta is framed for the crime. He is then imprisoned in the very facility he was meant to visit.
Inside Deadman Wonderland, Ganta discovers that it is not an ordinary prison but a place where inmates are forced to participate in deadly games in order to survive.
Deadman Wonderland is a great survival game anime, and its popularity speaks for itself.
One of its main attractions is the presence of horror elements, which adds an extra twist to the survival game plot and enhances the overall experience.
Gantz is an anime series based on a popular seinen manga and is known for its horror and splatter elements, as well as the presence of horror elements.
The story of Gantz revolves around Kei Kurono, a young boy who meets his demise after being struck by a train. However, instead of dying, he wakes up with a perfectly healthy body and is forced to participate in a game-like competition.
Kei and other recently deceased individuals are tasked with hunting down and eliminating aliens using advanced weaponry in order to ensure their own survival.
Gantz is an intense survival game anime filled with graphic scenes, gore, and horror, and it should be noted that it is intended for an adult and mature audience.
But if you are specifically looking for this kind of content, Gantz is an excellent choice.
4. Fate Series
Fate is undeniably one of the largest and most renowned anime franchises, boasting numerous TV series, movies, spin-offs, and video games.
But despite the abundance of content, the central plot remains consistent across the main routes: Stay Night, Zero, and Heaven’s Feel.
The story revolves around the battle for the holy grail, a magical and legendary artifact capable of granting any wish to the worthy victor.
This conflict is waged by masters, individuals chosen by the holy grail, who are each paired with a servant, a legendary warrior from bygone eras.
Fate masterfully blends a survival game narrative with abundant action, thrilling battles, a captivating dark fantasy world, and stunning animation.
It is truly an anime that shouldn’t be overlooked, whether you’re a fan of the survival genre or not.
3. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is undoubtedly the best gambling anime that seamlessly integrates survival game elements into its storyline. It was originally released in 2007 and has 26 episodes.
The series revolves around Kaiji, a destitute young man burdened by an insurmountable debt. Kaiji, an ordinary individual, must summon all his skills and mental fortitude to navigate the dire circumstances he finds himself in.
Set in 1995 Japan, shortly after his high school graduation, Kaiji moves to Tokyo in search of employment but is met with the city’s worst economic crisis in history.
Depressed, he resorts to alcohol, smoking, and gambling, which only serves to compound his already overwhelming debts.
Faced with a pivotal choice, Kaiji must either reclaim his lost fortunes and become the greatest gambler or succumb to the dire consequences.
Kaiji is an exceptional and underappreciated anime that combines a distinctive animation style with a gripping narrative that merges elements of the survival game and gambling genres.
Trust us and don’t miss it, especially if you’re a fan of the survival game genre, but also not.
2. Alice in Borderland
Alice in Borderlands is one of the most famous and iconic anime survival games in the genre, which also spawned a celebrated Netflix TV series.
The story centers around Ryouhei Arisu, a high school student who, along with his friends Daikichi Karube and Chouta Segawa, witnesses a sudden burst of blinding fireworks that renders them unconscious.
When they awaken, they find themselves in a city that has been destroyed and transformed into a wasteland. Together with his friends, Arisu ventures through this devastated world until they come across an enigmatic area called the Borderland.
But the Borderland reveals to be a dangerous place where every game will put their lives at stake, and a single mistake can lead to their demise.
Alice in Borderlands is hands down one of the best survival game anime you can find, if not the best if you are looking for an anime in this genre with classic elements.
1. Terror in Resonance
Terror in Resonance is a captivating anime released in 2014, consisting of only 11 episodes. It combines an extremely fascinating thriller and detective component with great survival game elements.
Tokyo becomes the target of a mysterious group known as Sphinx, which strategically places explosive devices throughout the city and challenges the police with riddles presented via the Internet.
The police must solve these riddles before the bombs detonate.
Who exactly are these enigmatic individuals known as Sphinx? What drives their actions? And will the police be able to contain them?
Terror in Resonance stands out as an anime like no other, filled with tension, unexpected twists, and finely crafted characters.
It’s a remarkable anime to watch for everyone, not solely those seeking intense, deathly games, thanks to its flawless fusion of genres.