What is Don’t Starve? It’s a golden jewel of a game, from a developer that seemingly cannot release anything sub-par.
Yes I’m talking about Klei, the lovely Canadian developers that have brought us a slew of brilliant indie titles that all have one thing in common. Challenge. From the stealthy, isometric Invisible.INC, to the over the top, grindhouse side scroller, Shank and Shank 2… But, when it comes to the survival genre, Klei’s Don’t Starve is truly a one of a kind jewel.
Whether it’s the standard edition, or Reign of Giants, Shipwrecked or Don’t Starve Together, it’s the sort of game that totally trips you up and plants your ass in the dirt. Its hand crafted art style and mysterious world alone is enough to draw intrigue from various passers-by. And with the latest DLC expansion, The Hamlet, I think it’s about time I dive into a favourite of mine for a review!
I remember when I first played Don’t Starve, long long, before Webber, or Wigfrid were introduced. Sat outside the high school library, intensely playing the various slew of pirated freeware games that I and my friends had. The game hooked me in within seconds of gameplay. Its aforementioned, hand crafted art style is absolutely gorgeous, and with talented musicians, Vince de Vera and Jason Garner heading up the sound design, you’re bound to get at least one of the many OSTs stuck in your head.
Styling itself as a Dark and whimsical survival game centered around a smattering of unfortunate individuals, tricked into a devilish world known only as ‘the constant’ Don’t Starve revolves heavily, and solely around its namesake. Everything you do in Don’t Starve is done in the pursuit of food! Whether it be collecting materials for a crockpot, to hording berrybushes, to slaughtering precious Jackalopes by the dozen (You monsters!) you’re always striving to not starve.
Each literation of the game brings with it a whole slew of unique features, such as Reign of Giants, additional seasonal misfortunes, to Shipwreckeds seafaring troubles, and now of course, The Hamlets, sweltering jungle nightmares join the fray. Each bringing unique characters to play as, as well as the faithful originals. Though Don’t Starve Together, the standalone multiplayer variant, is slowly seeking to implement aspects of all the single player expansions to some extent. There’s always some curveball to watch out for.
It falls into that niche vein of hardcore survival games, without appearing that way, disarming many people with its simplistic, almost cartoony style. But you will learn very quickly that Don’t Starve can kick you just as hard as Dark Souls whilst simultaneously being as unforgiving as Darkest Dungeon… But at the same time, the game is forgiving enough to keep you stubbornly trying to get one over on the game. Each generated world has a limited number of resurrection points, but there is a character that can create them at will, with significant resources of course.
Speaking of which, Klei are hot in the process of reworking all the characters in Don’t Starve, as well as releasing four brand new ones, two of which have already dropped. Wortox the imp and Wormword, the living plant. Speculations are rampant that we may finally get Wilton, Waverly or Wallace as well, but we will see. Each character brings something unique to the table, you’re not just playing a visual swap of another, from Wilson to Winona, all, Twenty-one playable characters have some gimmick to distinguish themselves. Some are more usefull than others, and others are utterly useless, most notably Wes, the ‘self-flagellation’ character. Yet every single character has a name starting with ‘W’ and a unique musical instrument for their voice, and distinct visual appearance and personality.
Originally released on PC in 2013, Don’t Starve is an utterly unique game that stands out from amidst the rest with no effort at all. It’s a game with a passionate audience, developer and community. The very thing any indie developer can only dream about. It’s immensely rich without telling you anything, it’s challenging without being unfair, it’s a game that will either turn you off immediately, or absorb you like some amorphous all-consuming blob.
In summary, Don’t Starve is very much a game geared toward people who love a good challenging survival game, with a quirky aesthetic to it. Whether it be grinding out in solo or turning the world to utter chaos with friends. Don’t Starve is a standout jewel that will probably never get old.
Whilst a fan, I must be honest, so I am giving Don’t Starve a solid 8.5/10. Points deducted for not letting me use vanity items in Solo.