Don’t Starve

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9.5 Overall Score

Surviving Feels Invigorating | Beautiful Art

Buried Plot | Brutal Difficulty

Written by on April 22, 2013 in [, ]

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Klei Entertainment is a company that, for a while, showed promise but couldn’t deliver. Their biggest games, Shank and Shank 2, had a lovely art style but failed in being very compelling. They then released Mark of the Ninja, a game that was arguably the best downloadable game of last year. Since then, they have been working on Don’t Starve and, for Klei, lightning may have struck twice.

Don’t Starve is a survival game similar to Minecraft. You are thrown onto an island by a demonic power and must find a way to survive the harsh environment. There is a slight story, but it’s mostly told through the game’s Adventure mode, which can be somewhat difficult for newer players to get into, as it requires you to find a specific item in the world.

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The world is harsh and brutal, as there is an emphasis on survival. Players will have to find food throughout the environment, avoid enemies and try to build up enough resources to survive. It’s a game that, for most, will feel like a game not of IF you will survive but for how long.

When you start, you’re often placed in an area with enough food to sustain you for a few days. From here, you’ll need to scavenge various twigs and pieces of flint to build a set of tools. You can use these tools to cut down trees or to mine for rocks. As you build more and more, you’ll begin to create traps and weapons to hunt for animals, as food can become extremely scarce.

There is a night and day cycle, as well. If you fail to build a fire of some sort by the time night falls, you’ll begin to get attacked in the pitch black. As evening comes, it can be incredibly tense just making sure you have exactly what you need to build a camp fire.

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Crafting tools is fairly simple as the interface makes building items easy. You simply use the panel on the left hand side of the screen to figure out which item you want to build and, assuming you have the correct components, click a button to build it. The process is quick and painless, meaning you can spend more time scavenging and exploring and less time building items.

However, the big feature that sets this game apart from something like Minecraft is the inclusion of a mental state meter. Sanity can be lost through various means, such as eating bad food or by using one of the various “worm holes” scattered throughout the world. As your sanity decreases, you will begin to hallucinate and see various shadowy creatures. By the time you’ve lost all of your sanity, these creatures will come to life and begin to attack you.

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Don’t Starve can be extremely brutal, even if you’ve played for a number of hours. However, it’s incredibly rewarding to survive just long enough to find one more piece of food. There will be points when you think you’re about to die, only to find a single item that gives you just enough strength to go on. It’s invigorating and makes you actually feel like you’re surviving in this mad world.

That said, it may be a bit too brutal for some. The game does feature a number of switches which allow you to add or remove various enemies or food items from the environment. While you can save and quit the game, dying will result in your save file being deleted and you being forced to start anew (unless you find a “Touchstone” which allows you to be revived once if you die). When you die, though, you are given a set amount of experience points based on how long you survived. Leveling up results in unlocking new characters, each with their own unique abilities, such as having a larger stomach or being immune to fire damage.

The art style is striking and beautiful. Klei has always been known for their artistic abilities but the 2D isometric world looks even better than some of their previous titles. Additionally, the sound design is fantastic, especially when you begin to lose sanity and you start to hear various whispers and monster noises. It sets the mood perfectly.

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Don’t Starve is proof that Klei Entertainment can create incredible games. Everything about Don’t Starve is built specifically to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something amazing. Though the plot of the game is buried a bit too deep, everything in the world feels fully fleshed out and there’s a real sense of accomplishment to surviving. It may be a bit too brutal for some players but if you can get past that, you may find one of the most satisfying game experiences around.

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Author: Addam Kearney View all posts by

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