Gaming Reviews

[Review] Don’t Starve

If you’re a huge fan of survival games, why don’t you try this indie wilderness survival “horror” game, Don’t Starve. Like the name of the game, your goal is to survive, and what’s more important than food? So I bought this through Steam, as the 2-pack beta access pack is available for a mere USD11, where the actual retail price will be USD15 per copy. This game is also available for Chrome, here.

This game may look cute and easy, but it’s really quite brutal, uncompromising and varies in difficulty – assuming you know what you’re doing and figure out what to do next. You start with absolutely nothing but the clothes you wear (which gives you nothing, really) in a randomly generated world. Dying removes your character permanently unless you unlock and produce an item in the game, one of the many research items available. Research carries over across characters, however, which makes it notably easier each time you start a new game.

You may choose to create new worlds, but lose your previous saves, so you might want to die before doing it(in-game of course). About game-saving, its done automatically at dusk and once more at dawn, assuming you survive the night – you have no choice of when to save.

From nasty spiders, huge eyeballs to angry ents (chop too many trees and they might come after you), you may also meet non-hostile inhabitants such as beefalos (moo moo) and pigs that talk. (sort of – with floating text!)

Now, let’s take a look at the games key features as published on their site.

Uncompromising survival & world exploration

No instructions. No help. No hand-holding. Start with nothing and craft, hunt, research, farm and fight to survive.

B: Yup, there is none. However, before you go ahead and judge this, the game’s interface is completely user-friendly, making crafting simple and easy to understand. It promotes exploration of both the world you created and also the items in it, which is magnificent. You may have to get used to the controls, as both WASD and point-and-click inputs are enabled, you sometimes find yourself walking to a location you don’t want to.

Constant updates

Join an active community that is helping to shape the game for release! Provide feedback and joint discussions with the community and developers.

B: Updates are constant and also timed. The minute you enter the game, an update symbol is at the bottom left, telling you when the next update will be. While these updates are content updates, I am pretty sure your standard bugfixes/hotfixes are done more often than that behind the scenes.

Dark and whimsical visuals

2D characters and odd creatures inhabiting a unique 3D world.

B: The graphics are cute, pleasant and unique. It’s also simple and different objects are easy to identify. Audio is pretty awesome as well, fitting into the 2D, Tim Burton-style artwork. As you can see in the image above, that’s clearly a beefalo and a pile of poop. IT’S SO OBVIOUS IT HURTS.

Randomly generated new worlds

Want a new map? No problem! At any time you can generate a new living and breathing world that hates you and wants you to die.

B: Trying this a few times (after dying a few times of course), the maps are completely and utterly random. So much so that I found myself in new areas that I never saw in the first map I had. While it will probably look similar after starting over a few times,  it is refreshing to see a game have the potential for so much replay value. (replayability is not a word, btw)

Features not listed that are worth noting

Levelling up – you gain experience every time you die. While my guess is that you gain more as the length you survive increases, it only seems to increase if you beat your previous record. Levelling up currently unlocks characters, which have unique abilities and are interchangeable in-game once you build a tent.

My Impression: So far so good! 

Costing the same amount as my lunch on a Mondays, this game is worth every penny, delivers what it promises and is a refreshing take to survival games. While many will compare this to terraria or even mine craft, I can tell you that it isn’t the same and I have all of them – I would compare this to that Ice Troll Tribes custom map in Warcraft. This is simply due to the fact it focuses heavily on day-to-day survival rather than constructing inanimate objects and trolling your friends by digging holes under them. That being said, however, this game does lack any form of multi-player, which I hope they intend to add in the future. Coop would look like fun, with each player having one character each.

As this game is still PRE-BETA (PRE mind you, its Alpha for Steam atm), there is still much to anticipate. So why not pick this up and give a copy to your girlfriend(s)?  

If you haven’t, you may also want to check out the ultimate Don’t Starve game guide here.

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By Brian Chan

Former Lecturer. Gamer. Idea Generator. Tournament Organizer. Loves Kairosoft games. Lived in a box twice in Recettear. Never turns down a Catan challenge. Cheats in Monopoly. Broke Skyrim. Sucks at Dance Central. Plays a fem Shep. Heavy bow-gunner in MH3p. Completed Persona 2 Portable 4 times. Well, he's just too damn free.

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