Don’t Starve Review

Don’t Starve Review
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Don’t Starve

Developer: Klei Entertianment

Platforms: PC

 

Don’t Starve is an interesting game in that, while I know it is fun, I’m not sure If I feel comfortable calling it a fun experience. It’s very polished, got a superb sense of style, and is so wonderfully deep that it will keep you engaged for hours. Yet, those hours will be such a roller coaster ride of emotions that you’ll emerge from a 4 hour Don’t Starve binge exhausted, sweating, and shaken.

This is because, more than anything else, Don’t Starve understands two things; Tension and Reward versus Risk. In the game you play as Wilson (or one of his friend, who you’ll unlock as you play). Winston is a scientist who has been captured by the mischievous, and probably Satanic, Maxwell. Maxwell decides that leaving Wilson in the middle of an unforgiving and dangerous wilderness is the best way to test his abilities as a resourceful scientist. As you awaken on your first day in The Wilderness, the point of the game becomes clear: Survive and Prosper.

He may be dapper, but Maxwell is up to something...

He may be dapper, but Maxwell is up to something…

Survival is based on three main elements. First, most appropriately, is Hunger. Hint: You don’t want to starve. While you can gather food like berries and seeds, you’ll want to set up traps to catch bunnies, and more than likely start a farm. Second, you need a source of light. By collecting timber, grass and rocks (got to line that fire: Even a wilderness survivor can prevent forest fires!), you’ll be able to make a  fire pit, add fuel to it during the night, and fend of the Grue…Grues…Nasty beasts stalking unseen through the blackness.

Don’t Starve’s UI is simple, perfectly stylized to fit with the Victorian-Gothic cartoon style of the game, and does exactly what it needs to. By creating new machines, you’ll be able to build new tools, weapons, and defenses for yourself in the wilds. With these, you’ll want to start exploring, finding communities of Pigmen, collecting honey and important supplies (Like Poo. Seriously, Fertilizer is important.). You’ll see wondrous sights, like Beefalo, Tallbirds, and perhaps even a Wormhole.

The First Night is the Worst Night

The First Night is the Worst Night

Your more than likely to die the first couple times you play, maybe to starvation, maybe to stupidly attacking a beehive and being stung to death, but that the learning process! Soon you’ll be managing your berry farm, building little walls, drying jerky and even knitting yourself a nice sweater.

And then, the snow begins to fall.

This is where Don’t Starve becomes more than a fun adventure game, and a marvelous test of survival: Winter is coming. It is always coming. No matter what you do, how many weapons you find, or how fancy your hat is, the cold of winter will cause you to sit up, pay attention and start sweating. Winter is the third thing you must always contend with, and it’s a harsh mistress, as you’ll lose sanity in the cold, the days are shorter, and that wonderful berry farm you grew will stop producing delicious berries.  I barely made it through my first winter, and from then on, the game is a practice in preparation. You need to gather fuel, dry food, and find some source of warmth before the next winter.

Berry Bush = Best Friend

Berry Bush = Best Friend

In addition to all this survival fun, there’s something sinister going on in the world of Don’t Starve. You’ll find macabre shrines, strange magical walking boxes, and rings of evil flowers as you explore the world. Some of these are useful, some of them are not, but all of them point to something…more…going on in the world….something sinister.

As if a solid survival game wasn’t enough, the developer, Klei Entertianment, just keeps pushing out new content like mad! The latest update, “Hungry for your Hunger” added two new mobs, the Slurper and the Mechanical Castle, and the all important addition that Splumonkeys will now steal your hats, and wear them, which is amazing.

Don’t Starve is a fantastic game that will challenge you, run your nerves ragged, and entertain you to no end. Just, make sure to step back from things every once in a while. You can get drawn in pretty damn easily…

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Written by
Editor-in-Chief of IndieHangover.com. With a soft spot for epics, sagas and tales of all types, Jacob approaches games as ways to tell stories. He's particularly interested in indie games because of the freedom they have to tell different stories, often in more interesting and innovative ways than Triple A titles.