Don’t Starve

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Don’t Starve on Steam

MSRP*: $14.99 (base game), $22.99 (solo complete), $26.99 (with Don’t Starve Together)

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, PS3, PS4, PSVita, XBox One, iOS, Wii U

Release: 4/23/13

*prices may vary for console & mobile versions


I’ve been procrastinating writing about Don’t Starve for awhile, and I’ll tell you why right up front.  This is a game I should love. It’s a survival game that does a lot of things right, has quirky graphics, and randomly generated worlds, so it’s not just a matter of “go directly to resource, profit”.  But I think I’ve given it a fair shake, having spent about 10 hours with it now, and it’s just not scratching the itch for me.

Initially, you are only given access to one playable character, but as you play, you unlock experience that will unlock other characters with different pros and cons. Despite death being a permanent condition, experience carries over between games. Don’t Starve is primarily a sandbox game; there is also an unlockable adventure mode, but I have yet to find the means of unlocking it.

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It also has a pair of expansions that make the game more interesting while upping the difficulty, but it allows you to choose whether or not you play with them.  In fact, the game recommends that new users play without the expansions, but you’re not tied in if you choose to purchase them as part of a package.

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In a way, it’s pretty typical survival fare; gather resources to make tools to gather more resources and build things to make survival easier.  You need to manage three metrics: hunger, health, and sanity.  If that doesn’t appeal, no amount of quirk in the world is going to change that. However, in an attempt to draw on horror game tropes, you are forever tethered to the light.  Once the sun goes down, if you’re not holding a torch or hanging out by a campfire, you’re probably not going to live until morning.

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The crafting aspects of the game are pretty linear, however, everything else feels almost painfully random.  I rarely make it through more than a few game days; either I die horribly from doing something that was probably a bad idea, or the tedium of feeding a fire all night gets to me and I wander off.  Please note, despite the name of the game, I have yet to die of starvation.

Don’t Starve is pretty popular for an indie game, and received many favorable reviews.  Maybe I’d enjoy it more if I were better at it.  As it stands for me, permadeath feels too punishing, and the long night time hours just don’t hold my attention.

 

 

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