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Don't Starve Review


The survival genre has changed drastically over the past few years, in the past it was all about ammo replenishment and healing yourself whilst fighting monsters and zombies but as of late that has changed to more of a Bear Grylls style, though you still get to fight against an assortment of monsters.

Just like the mammoth hit Minecraft, Don’t Starve starts off by just dropping you into an eerie and inhospitable world. Our main protagonist Wilson is an inventor who had earlier been contacted by a voice through his ham radio set. Acting on these strange instructions Wilson then creates a huge and menacing machine, that only when he turns it on, realises the error of his ways with dark shadow like arms reaching up from the ground around him and pulling him into another realm. Awakening in a strange new world, the mysterious Maxwell stands over him, offering a few scant words of advice "Say pal, you don’t look so good. You better find something to eat before night comes," before he disappears, leaving Wilson well and truly on his own.



With Maxwell’s warning running fresh in the mind, it's up to you to guide Wilson through this strange and gloomy world, grabbing whatever you can and trying to work out what these items can be used for. Starting with carrots, seeds, grass, twigs and flint and using Wilson's inventors mind, you are able to create a basic axe and pickaxe, allowing you to chop at trees to gather wood and other materials, all the while your on screen persona will constantly remind you that the darkness is coming and it comes quick. Ill prepared players will find themselves dead on the first day as whatever the darkness holds, it will not let you live to see daylight. So you quickly make a bonfire, stoking the flames with grass and twigs, holding of the creeping darkness and throwing on carrots and whatever other foodstuffs you will come across onto the fire to keep hunger at bay. With survival being the key Maxwell will occasionally comment on his health, the time or how hungry he is, with him keeping you aware of his status being more like a countdown of a ticking bomb, visualised with numerous gauges on the top corner of the screen that seem to constantly deplete, adding even more fraught panic to your situation. The top dial indicates the amount of daylight, dusk and night the day has on offer and the other three show your health, hunger and sanity. The first two are relatively easy to keep tabs on, eating food will boost both, hunger diminishing with time and health through being attacked. Sanity however is a little different, with darkness and uncomfortable situations causing it to drop. Ignore it for too long and it is not just the world that is out to get you but your own mind, with your fears and dark thoughts becoming a reality and attacking you.

Though there are plenty of similarities to Minecraft when it comes to gathering and crafting, Don’t Starve is a very different game as there is not a real safety net, die and it is all over and there are plenty of things out there to kill you. There are no safe burrows you can dig and hide away until the night is over; you are always out on the wild open plains, with at times just a feeble torchlight stopping the terrors that lurk behind the night’s impenetrable dark veil. With all that is against you it goes without saying that death is a very strong part of the game, with its cold hand grabbing you an awful lot as you struggle to survive just a few days let alone 20 days plus, though it never really becomes a chore as with every death you are learning, the first wild dog attack, trying to gather honey and silk without attracting the attention of the venomous inhabitants, even the changing of the seasons will cause a few deaths to the unprepared. With every item you collect it will have a relevant use to the world you are in so gather as much as you can.


As well as the lessons learnt from death you will also earn experience points scored by how many days you have survived and with each rank you will unlock another wayward soul, all of whom are dropped into this hellish world but have slightly different skills that may help or hinder your chances of survival including a lumberjack that starts off with an axe, a young pyromaniac girl that keeps a lighter and even a robot that gets charged up by lightning strikes but is damaged by the rain.

With every new attempt at getting free from Maxwell’s devious plans a whole new experience is created with the game keeping it interesting by creating randomly created maps each time you re-enter the world, throwing all sorts of environments for you to discover. Each world will have specific segments of an environment, each one having their own unique materials to plunder with swamplands offering spikey trees and frogs, plains full of grass and rabbits to trap and forests, but beware as with each area comes new hazards like aggressive pig men, killer tentacles, clockwork knights, giant long legged birds and even the trees will come alive and attack you.

Once more settled into the game you may even want to attempt the five Maxwell challenges that are located through a strange door usually hidden deep in the world. Here you are able to make continuous attempts at overcoming five various and dangerous environments, piecing together a machine that should return you to safety. The good thing about these adventures are that if you die its not game over as you then return to the survival mode you left earlier, though do not expect a walk through as Maxwell will throw every obstacle he can at you to stop you.


Being the first console version of this PC title the controls work pretty well, with my only gripe being the organisation of your inventory, with swapping items from a storage chest getting a bit fiddly, especially when you are racing the darkness trying to grab some kindling for your fire. Otherwise the game as a whole has transferred well to the PS4, with its beautifully drawn 2D characters somehow coming to life in this dark and terrifying world, the minimalist sound effects and music adding even more to the creepy surroundings.

Don’t Starve is quite an original title to be found on the home console market and is very refreshing for it, never being able to stand still and take in the atmosphere as death is at every corner. I would have liked to have an option to have a more relaxed world to venture through just to get to grips with the many different tools and equipment you can use without the pressures of night and death constantly threatening you, though I suppose that is what Wiki is for. An additional bonus is that for this month Don’t Starve is free to play on the PlayStation 4 if you are a PlayStation Plus member, which makes it a complete bargain really, so grab it for free while you can.

Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PS4)

Pros

+ A thrilling new direction for survival horror
+ Lots of tools and weapons to craft
+ Huge randomly created worlds to adventure though.

Cons

- Inventory organisation is a bit messy.

Edited On 17 Jan, 2014

Comments
( 16 )
jay.hamilton's avatar
jay.hamilton 3 years ago
I have tried and tried but I just cant get into it, its really not my cup of tea, it just feels like a Facebook game to me, with outlast coming in 2 weeks I have a completely different view on survival horror, but at leastIi give it a good try and hope everyone else enjoys it
Dave 'BubbaJai' Aston's avatar
Dave 'BubbaJai' Aston 3 years ago
I absolutely love this game. Something completely new (for me at least). Didn't make it through the first night. On second attempt I'm up to day 9. DLC has also just been announced with man-eating stuff like giant pandas. Looking forward to giving Outlast a go now. Don't you just love PS+
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 3 years ago
It is a Love or Hate kind of game
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
I don't love it and i don't hate it i'm in the middle it's kinda ok.
jay.hamilton's avatar
jay.hamilton 3 years ago
my son likes it though so hes happy
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 3 years ago
No one cares what you think. Go back to Battlefield you Nerd
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
i'll play Battlefield whilst you watch your cartoons yeah?;)
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 3 years ago
Fine, Wolf Children is better then any movie you could throw at me
ZdravkoN's avatar
ZdravkoN 3 years ago
I have seen trailers and reviews about this game. It looks interesting, but unfortunately I still haven't tried it out. Maybe I will take a look at it on PC.
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
pineapple express just saying.
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 3 years ago
Seen it and it was Meh
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
Log out and never come back.
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 3 years ago
I just didn't like it. I don't like most Stoner flicks
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
My above statement still stands.
Light Heavensword's avatar
Light Heavensword 3 years ago
I tried this last week but didn't really get into it. It was boring for me, although i will try it again over the weekend.
jay.hamilton's avatar
jay.hamilton 3 years ago
Earnest Saves Christmas, just saying

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