Don’t Starve is a survival simulator from the folks over at Klei Entertainment, it blends Minecraftian gameplay with a Tim Burton-Esque art style. This has all the elements together, but is it worth the hours it takes to understand it?
I have a very weird relationship with Don’t Starve. In very much the same vein as Dark Souls, every time I die I declare my hatred (loudly) for the game and turn it off. I then spend 15 minutes looking at something else to play, only to end up punishing myself once more as I load up the opening screen and start my adventure anew.
Around about my 15th playthrough, I came to understand that Don’t Starve is a misnomer. 15 versions of my character came through that world and not once did my end come at the hands of starvation, instead my numerous deaths came from the monsters that randomly infest the landscape.
I know this sounds irritating and cheap, but every time I died it was my own fault, there were no glitches in game, I angered the wrong beast and did not live to tell the tale.
With each subsequent playthrough however, I grew smarter and began building farms, weaponry and befriending the more friendly wildlife to become my bodyguards. I learned how to bait the bigger animals into mobs of enemies and return later to take the spoils and pick off the remaining monsters, to me this is when Don’t Starve really got its hooks into me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t playing on it.
There I was, thinking I had finally grasped all the challenges that Don’t Starve could throw at me, I had built my farm, fended off nearby monsters and befriended some of the local wildlife. I kept on harvesting my berries and crops and was on day 21 when the confidence really began to set in that I had become this unstoppable force; then day 22 and with it, came winter.
I didn’t last long.
My crops stopped growing, I couldn’t walk further than 10 squares without my health draining in the cold it was brutal. I ran out of materials to make a fire very quickly and froze to death in the barren wastes of winter.
Upon getting to winter on my next playthrough, I felt more prepared than ever. I had tonnes of logs and charcoal to keep a fire going, a thermal stone to keep me warm when I moved through the wastes, 4 pots full of food and 30 berry bushes planted and ready to be harvested. I was ready.
2nd day into winter, I was roaming around my little campsite, I accidentally hit a penguin and a swarm of them attacked and I died. All my hard work, for nothing.
That truly is the beauty of Don’t Starve however. Upon failing and losing all my hard work over 26 days, I just picked myself up from the main menu and threw myself back into another journey, unlocking characters as I went.
Each of the 10 characters you can play as in Don’t Starve come with different strengths and weaknesses, for example one character (Wigfried) absorbs the strength of any monster or animal she kills, however she can only eat meat. I personally played through the game as Wendy, she had only 75% strength in battle but was able to summon the ghost of her dead sister to fight for her which gave me time to get out of the way and let her take care of hordes of enemies with an AOE attack.
Don’t Starve truly is an experience that has to be played to be believed, from the dark, depressing art style to the morbid lives of these characters Don’t Starve is a game that I found myself coming back to again and again.