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Don’t Starve Review

A unique survival game with an incredible art style.

Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Release Date: April 23rd 2013
Platforms: PC (Windows, Linux and Mac) , Xbox One, PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, Wii U, Android, iOS
Platform Reviewed on: PC (Windows)

 

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Don’t Starve is a unique roguelike game that thrusts the players into a dangerous wilderness with only the clothes on their backs, a few key items and traits. Players will find themselves enjoying the vast expanse of this dangerous place filled with wild animals, dark beings, and most importantly of all, trying not to starve.

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The main character of this game is Wilson, a scientist who has been trapped by a demon and transported to a mysterious world. In this world, players must survive while using what they find in the environment to help get themselves back home. The storyline is simple enough; it lets the players put themselves into the characters’ shoes. The focus is on exploration in an unknown world that has danger around every corner.

In typical roguelike fashion, you will die. A lot. You are given no instructions on how to survive, meaning that the game clearly intends for death to be part of the overall experience. You start a run, you survive for a while, and then you die. Using the knowledge you acquired, you are more likely to survive for longer in the next run.

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There are nine playable characters, each possessing their unique good and bad traits, along with their special item that will help in an aspect of their survival  Players will unlock new characters by playing through the game with their available characters in a linear fashion. You start out with Wilson, playing with him will unlock Willow, playing with Willow unlocks Wolfgang, et cetera. Another unique aspect of the game as well as the characters is the low whistle sounds substituted as voices that reminds me a lot like the adults in Charlie Brown.

 

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There are two kinds of mode within the game at time of writing; Adventure and Survival. Players will first start out in Survival mode, and upon exploration may come across a mysterious door, known as Maxwell’s Door. This door takes the players into Maxwell’s game, Adventure mode. Adventure mode forces the players to survive through five chapters that progressively increases in difficulty.

 

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You have a menu of items that you use to learn new skills and create new items, i.e. weapons, traps, clothing, fire and shelter. Players have a health meter in addition to their “Sanity” and “Hunger” bars. There’s also a calendar that shows the players the time of day as well as how many days have passed. Season change is periodical, each with their differences: Winter has longer nights, Summer has longer days. Characters will not get sick from being exposed to rain or the cold, but the meter will turn blue to indicate the character’s freezing during winter. Exploration is key to survival. The world is vast and full of danger so you must defend yourself.

Surviving the night is a difficult task, the player must build a fire to keep the darkness at bay. Naturally, the darkness is filled with shadow monsters looking to kill the player. In addition to this, shadow hands will reach in to grab wood from the fire so the player must remain on their toes to avoid their only source of safety being taken from them.

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The enemies in this world vary in size and level of threat to the player. The swamps in particular are a haven for dangerous enemies, like a swamp monster with tentacles that reaches out to grab you. There are the hounds that pop up randomly to attack the player but there is a clear warning sound that tells you it’s time to defend yourself. There are many kinds of monsters throughout the game that will pose a challenge for the players.

The Machine is a vital instrument for the characters’ survival. Characters can learn to create new things by clicking on “Prototype”. Typically, the more potent an item, the more difficult it is to create. Case in point, crafting magical objects. Crafting the machine itself can be easy or hard depending on the place you spawned as well as how far you will have to go to find these items. The map is randomly generated, as is the place you spawn on it, so it is very possible to be completely screwed by the placements of certain key crafting ingredients.

Don’t Starve has an incredible ambience, in part due to the sublime sound design and fitting soundtrack. The sounds, as simple as the trees and the waves and the shuffling of the characters’ feet on the ground, makes the world more realistic.
Players will find this game to be replay able, with a variety of characters to choose from with their own special abilities and items as well as the randomness of spawning locations and situations. Players will find themselves playing a different game every time and enjoying the game more and more as they discover this dark world.

Don’t Starve is an innovative artistic survival game that delves into a world filled with monsters and a harsh wilderness. The developers have also created expansions for the game such as Don’t Starve Together, Don’t Starve Together: A New Reign, Don’t Starve Shipwrecked, and Don’t Starve: Reign of Giants.

 

Pros

  • Strange and awesome characters
  • Well-polished survival mechanics
  • Stunning graphic style
  • Lots of replayability

 

Cons

  • Lack of character development
  • Not much story depth
  • Mechanics can feel a bit basic
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Categories: All, PC, Reviews

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