Some games are spooky, some games are fun and some are just plain quirky. Don’t Starve from Klei Entertainment is definitely the latter that features an open randomly generated world that brings back the true meaning of exploration and survival. Everything around the world is looking to kill you and night time can bring instant tentacle death. So is this indie title worth the $15 on Steam, or should you take a Minecraft pick axe to this survival game.
Don’t Starve Live[iframe width=”600″ height=”338″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/eY-U9ACpSDw” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]
One of the biggest arguments from the video game hardcore the past couple of years is that games are too easy and that people are shooting for the casual market to often. This game is EXACTLY what those people want. Don’t Starve drops you in the middle of a randomly generated map with… wait for it… nothing. No tutorials, no tool tips and no hand holding what-so-ever. You are greeted by a man that says you don’t look so well and that you should eat something. The rest of the game is up to the creativity of the player to survive. Even the 1337est of players will have to eat a couple of deaths before figuring out some of the key mechanics and to really start surviving in this world.
But what actually is Don’t Starve? Is it a survival game? Is it a Sandbox Game? Is it a creative building game? Yes, yes and yes. You spend your time most of the time surviving in Don’t Starve managing a hunger meter, a sanity meter and a health meter. While managing these three meters you are then gathering to create yourself a home and to survive the elements. It’s kind of like Minecraft in that manner but the world is somewhat deeper. However the 3/4 top down camera along with a Nightmare Before Christmas art style makes this game look somewhat eerie even when you are doing well.
There is surpring a lot of depth to the game. Once you start collecting some basic materials you will be able to build yourself an axe and a pickaxe. I thought the game was going to be pretty much limited to me running around and gathering stuff, but after picking up a gold nugget and making a science machine the game got real. There are a ton of in depth mechanics including a large cooking tree, weapons, armor and even magic. You will be able to build yourself a nice little farm, home and get ready for the raging winter cold.
The real hook to the game is finding new things to unlock. Finding out how to build a tent, a spear, some body armor and even unlocking characters that have different abilities are all addicting. You get a real sense of accomplishment when playing Don’t Starve that you don’t necessarily get out of other games because you figured it out, you built it, and you watched it work the way you planned. On the contrast when you fail you actually learn something. You learned something new about that food item or about that enemy. This makes the game seem fair and makes death a scary, but a decent game mechanic.
Don’t Starve is not one for the feint hearted. It will kick you in the ass and make you think creatively about problem solving. For most people this is going to be a game where you have a wikia open in the background to figure everything out. For some, that sounds amazing and sounds like a good time. For the casual player who is looking for another Minecraft, there are similarities but they probably should look elsewhere.