Wednesday, 1 May 2013
Review: Don't Starve
Survival games come in all shapes and sizes, and indie developer, Klei Interactive, has released their small scale, day to day survival game Don't Starve. Featuring a sinister Victorian motif and quirky humor, Don't Starve seeks to challenge the player against the elements and force a struggle for survival and sanity.
The player starts the game by adjusting the world creation and selecting a character. The sandbox world can be tailored to make the days longer or for areas to have more, or less resources. In the beginning, players may only choose the gentleman-scientist Wilson. As you play further, characters are unlocked featuring special abilities such as fire immunity or greater strength.
Unceremoniously dropped into the new world, the game's antagonist, Maxwell, seeks to torture your mind and body for trespassing into his secret portal. Don't Starve is light on the story, but instead heavily focused on the world and your interactions within it. Think, build and fight your way to survival; utilising both land resources and tools, hopefully surviving to see the new day dawn.
There is only one passive save game; there is no going back. If you die, your save is wiped and you'll have to start over. This design decision allows players who survive a great sense of achievement. Surviving your first winter is a very big achievement, as resources dwindle and the player may even freeze to death. Fire is often your greatest ally, but it can also, figuratively, burn down the house.
As the player delves further into the game, strategies, survival tactics and personal safety rules are developed. Storing food for the winter, stockpiling, scouting new resources, dealing with threats, farming, cooking and resurrection will need to be managed on a day to day basis. Wasting time is possibly the worst mistake players can make; successfully managing your time allows characters to survive and further explore the new world.
After playing for an extended period of time, Don't Starve's difficulty does eventually plateau. The end game consists of either entering Maxwell's adventure mode portal, pitting players against a reduced resource and environmental challenge, spanning five custom worlds; or trigger a portal leading into a new sandbox world. After you die or complete a world experience, XP, is awarded unlocking new characters.
Don't Starve has a few niggling problems, but nothing that detracts from the overall experience. It's roguelike gameplay design decisions are quite evident. If you need a game that will distract you for a couple of hours, Don't Starve fits the bill perfectly.
Don't Starve is currently on sale for $14.99 on Steam, Amazon and Google, and $11.99 on GoG.