Have you ever been on one of those camping trips where you get to think it would be cool to just live out there in the forest? I have, but after playing Klei Entertainment’s newest PlayStation 4 game Don’t Starve, I’m having some serious second thoughts about whether I could even last a week out in the wilderness.
Don’t Starve drops you into the shoes of Wilson the gentleman scientist. Wilson is getting frustrated with his work and just can’t seem to get anything right. While Wilson is working on something to do with a powder and a liquid it unexpectedly blows up in his face and that’s when things take a turn for the weird. Wilson’s radio begins talking to him promising him secret knowledge that would help him in his scientific endeavors. Wilson agrees and is taken to a strange land where he realizes hes been tricked and left in this strange place where just about everything is looking forward to killing him.
Your main goal in Don’t Starve is to survive for as long as possible but funnily enough starving is going to be the least of your problems. Once you arrive in your new world all your told is that you don’t look to good and should eat something. There are no tutorials or explanations for what you need to do which is something I normally hate but with Don’t Starve it just feels right to learn as you go but you better learn quick because night is coming and you don’t want to be alone in the dark in this place.
As you traverse your new home exploring here and there you will need to collect supply’s to keep yourself alive. Things like shrubs, cut grass, rocks and food will be a few of the main things you need but that’s just the beginning. As you collect more and more supplies you will eventually be able to craft new items like an ax, torch, backpack, camp fire and so many more things that are necessary to your survival.
The really cool thing about Don’t Starve though is its ever changing world. Every time you start a new game a whole new world is procedurally generated which means nothing is ever the same twice. On your first play through you might start in a big green pasture with a few trees here and there but if you die the entire world is recreated in a completely different way leaving you wandering new territory every time. This world isn’t small either if you manage to explore even 25% of it you have lasted much longer then I ever have.
While you are out exploring this vast world you might come across a boulder blocking a hole in the ground. If you use a pick axe on it and open the hole you can go spelunking which is essentially exploring underground caves. These caves however are massive, so massive they procedurally generate just like an entire new world. The downside to these caves though is there is very little light so you better be prepared if you are going to take the dive down that cavern.
Surviving in this place is not easy and only gets harder over time. Aside from making sure your well fed you will need to deal with all kinds of monsters like Spiders, Bee’s, Werepigs and worst of all hounds just to name a few. Avoiding these creatures is generally easy but once they start attacking you need to think quick. Depending what gear you have you might want to stay and kill them to get whatever supplies you can from their corpses or just run away which is usually the best idea. Hounds however there is no running from. Every 10 to 15 days a pack of Hounds will begin tracking you down wherever you are and your only choices are to fight them or lure them into a pack of other angry creatures who will hopefully do your dirty work for you.
Once you’ve survived long enough to learn a few things and get a small stockpile of supplies its going to be time to set up a base camp. Winter is coming and you definitely want to be prepared for the cold. As you would expect it gets cold in the winter and being cold is almost as bad as being in the dark. Once coldness sets in if your not near a heat source you will slowly die. If your going to survive the winter you will need a jacket and a big supply of food since you wont be traveling to far in the snow.
Don’t Starve’s crafting system works great. Once you find or make the ingredients to craft a science machine and alchemy machine your free to make anything you have the supplies for. Once you have prototyped what ever it is you are making you can build it anywhere without the need for the science or alchemy machine which is good because there is a lot of things you can make and having to go back to those machines every time would be a real pain even if they are set up at your base camp.
Don’t Starve has an interesting art style that I’m rather fond of. It looks like a something you would find in the funny’s section of your local news paper. Everything is gorgeously hand drawn from the trees, grass and Beefalo all the way down to Wilson’s beard which grows as the days and weeks go by.
The one small downfall of Don’t Starve however is its menu setup. For a game where every minuet of daylight counts you will be spending a good bit of time moving through your inventory and crafting screens. Crafting is done in real time but bringing up your inventory will pause everything. While doing things like crafting and sorting your inventory are best done at night that’s not always an option. Moving through the crafting menus can be tedious work when you need to make something especially since the icons that show the different items are really small and hard to distinguish from one another.
Overall Don’t Starve is an interesting game that is extremely fun but I don’t see it being a game everyone will like. In all honesty its a lot of walking, chopping, crafting and exploring and not much more which is fine for me. The challenge of seeing how long I can survive keeps me pushing ahead and not caring that there’s little to no real story. For some people though I can see this not being their cup of tea and that understandable but if this does sound like a game you would enjoy you most certainly will have fun.