Today I burnt down the whole forest…oops.
Is it just me or are games today too happy go lucky for their own good? Heroes always saving princesses from overgrown lizards and other such nonsense, when was the last time we had a game place us in a scenario with no goal other than to survive for as long as we can.
I can’t win, I will die, and nobody will know of my accomplishments… This is a poignant and I’ve never had this much fun in a long time!
As the title states “Don’t Starve” the game is very simple in it’s nature, your name is Wilson a scientist who has for unknown reasons been left in the wilderness to fend for himself by a mysterious figure named Maxwell. During your stay you will be met with a large number of tasks that all center around making sure you see the light of the next day…and the next day…and the next day…until finally one slip up, or poor planning such as squandering your resources leads to your inevitable demise.
The game has a quirky art-style, if I had to sum it up in a easily congestible word…”Old-Timey Gothica” the game has a feeling as if you’re staring at a really old sepia photograph in motion. Everything from the artsyle to the language has a high class british feel to it, with the language even adopting the phrases such as “Dapper Vest”. To the characters (There are multiple playable characters, but Wilson is the only “Cannon” character in the game so far) look and feel. The game oozes atmosphere being able to do quite alot with the sound to well crafted 2D art. From a presentation standpoint Don’t Starve gets top marks.
The first time I loaded the game I noticed a slowly draining gauge that turns out to be my hunger gauge…As obvious as it may sound hunger is one of the main mechanics that a majority of the game revolves around, so foraging for food will be a large part of your experience. That’s not to say that it is the only thing out for you, the wilds you explore are far from a friendly place, while there are neutral animals such as rabbits, birds, bees, and a few others, they are not there to aid you on your quest you are alone and the only interaction you will have with these creatures are not in their best interests as you more often then not are looking at that bird perched by your camp as a tasty drumstick. Attaining food from them is harder than you would think, rabbits run into their nests as your approach, birds fly away, bees will attack in swarms if you assault them for their precious honey. There are however tools at your disposal to deal with these critters, and by at your disposal I mean you have nothing. Everything is made from scratch using materials in the world, for example if you want to catch a rabbit you have a few options but by far the simplest is to make a trap and bait it. To do so you will need some grass and a few twigs all conveniently around you at the time. So you build your trap, catch your rabbit and harvest your rewards from his lifeless remains and you satiate your hunger…now what? The trap you made will eventually break, those twigs and grass take a long time to grow back so you have no other choice but to move on…but it’s getting kind of dark out…
The sun begins to fade, my character starts to complain about needing fire…fiddlesticks I’ll brave the night for tonight I desperately need food and materials and as most things seem to have gone to sleep I can have a much easier time gathering resources as long as I stay aware and avoid any creatures that may lurk in the night right?….right? Night-time in Don’t Starve is generally stationary because unless your packing some serious gear you’re not going to want to move past your safe haven campfire, and without a source of light you are doomed if you as much as take a small venture into the pitch black dark. Night-time is pitch black the only escape is to make a fire and stoke it with whatever you can get your hands on to keep the darkness at bay, while not totally original an interesting twist appears at night none the less. You may have guessed it but being caught in the dark means certain doom, first your character will wail about how dark it is, then you hear a sound….like something taking a deep breath and then “BAM” something hits you takes a massive chunk off your life and the cycle continues until you are dead. Congratulations you have met the Night monster, it’s not the only thing to fear as there are other dangers about.
The game hosts a number of baddies out to get you, aggressive tallbirds who can take you out if you as much as look at their nests, spider dens litter the wilderness making it impossible to settle down in an area near them at night without fear of a night raid…and lest you get too comfortable in you new camp if you survive long enough you will encounter the Hounds. If you survive long enough to have some form of stability in your situation with food, light, shelter you will eventually be greeted by these beasts first you will hear them far away barking coming for you…then eventually they will ambush you often at the least opportune times and in growing numbers as the game continues.
Don’t Starve is a refreshing take on a genre that has had little love the past few years giving the survival genre a good kickstart.
The developers of the game seem very into the game, going as far to hide hidden messages in their update notes. Sending out christmas cards that play morse code that link to a secret web-page that plays yet another mysterious audio clip, or placing images through their trailer to piece together at a later date. The developers show a great passion and seem to take pride in their work it’s a refreshing breeze from the stuffy world of AAA blockbusters and companies famous for wanting to take the fun out game development. Klei entertainment has already brought us impressive indie titles such as Mark of the Ninja and Shank.
The game is currently in Beta phase but is more than playable and continues to evolve with time, there currently is no “Story” mode that will explain the mysterious events surrounding the game but even without them this is an amazing game. Even in Beta phase, Don’t Starve should be in anyone steam library; I highly recommend it.