Wilson carried a torch through the pitch black darkness. This was pretty far away from his base camp, but there was no other way to get the precious timber. He had to risk his life and venture into the unknown. The crackling light cast flickering shadows all around him and caused a deep sense of dread in Wilson. “I better hurry”, he thought. He found a nice patch of trees all clustered together and brimming with survival value. Wilson quickly built a fire nearby, put the torch out and grabbed the axe hanging on his belt.
As the night engulfed the forest, the only sound was the Wilson’s frantic chopping of the trees. He became so mesmerized with the rhythm, the splinters flying away and the inevitable fall of the tree, that he completely forgot to tend to the fire. Once he realized what’s going on, it was too late. Wilson quickly turned around and saw what looked like shadowy hands putting out the fire with a certain malevolent satisfaction. Fire sputtered and died. Wilson was all alone in the darkness.
Fear of the dark
Then, something in the dark viciously punched Wilson. He swung the axe in that direction, but it just flew through the air. There was nothing there. Nothing solid, at least. Wilson screamed and started running, somewhere, just away from the nemesis in the dark. But it followed and kept punching Wilson until he finally gave up and collapsed on the ground, tired, hurt, insane. Wilson died. Again. Welcome to Don’t Starve.
As you probably have figured out by now, Don’t Starve has an extremely steep learning curve. You will die and die and die, over and over, each time learning something new. This can be a truly frustrating experience. In fact, you will probably want to punch your monitor and throw it out the window after Don’t Starve kills your character once again in a completely bullshit way. Your first instinct will probably be to look up some information on the wiki and such, but you shouldn’t. Unlike The Binding of Isaac, here you can actually connect the dots on your own, since all crafting recipes have tooltips.
The struggle is surreal
Your goal in the game is to survive. This means not letting any of the three stats—sanity, health and hunger—fall to zero. Weird food, events, and enemies will make your character start to see things, while fancy clothes, pets, and proper meals will keep his sanity high. If it falls down to zero, you will face endless night, which means a certain death. In that case, you should run around, making torches as you find materials, and start picking up flowers, which give a low sanity boost.
Health is extremely difficult to restore reliably. Ironically, healing salves require rare components, the collection of which might get you killed. The best course of action is to avoid all damage and craft a log suit ASAP. It is a good idea to start working towards crafting beehives and having at least four by the time the winter arrives (day 15), since honey is a healing item component and a good food.
Hunger is best kept under control by eating meals from the crock pot rather than the ingredients separately. However, all food will slowly spoil and become rotten, especially in the summer. That’s why dried jerky is perhaps the best food item in the game, as it restores health, sanity, and hunger while being almost unspoilable.
Beautiful, deadly, senseless world
The default gameplay mode is pretty much a sandbox and doesn’t have any kind of narrative. The seasons will keep cycling with increasingly difficult enemies spawning from time to time until you die or quit. This lack of any coherent story is perhaps the biggest problem with Don’t Starve, since it’s very easy to get bored and lose interest in the game once you discover all crafting recipes and learn to abuse the enemy AI. Eventually you can find a hidden doorway leading to a set of extremely difficult challenges but they are also lacking in the story department.
As you survive through the days, you will gain experience points which unlock more characters. Each of them has some kind of quirk that you need to play around but which can be used to an advantage. Whether you use any of them or stick with the default character, Wilson, is entirely up to you, but all characters are extremely well balanced and there are no gamebreaking mechanics.
The art style in Don’t Starve is absolutely gorgeous, unique and has a certain timeless charm. Don’t Starve‘s graphics look great today and will look awesome 20 years from now. There is no voice acting, though every spoken word is replaced with an instrument sound. This is yet another brilliant decision that simply adds a whole new layer of atmosphere and doesn’t detract from the gameplay in the slightest.
You are encouraged to make vegetable farms, shave beefalo and craft vests from their wool, catch birds, craft gunpowder, befriend bipedal pigs, use dark magic, make lightning rods and much, much more. Whenever you are given a chance to experiment, do it and don’t hold back. There is simply no end to the wonders the world of Don’t Starve contains. As a bonus, there is a special edition titled Don’t Starve Together, which is great for playing with your significant other.
If you enjoy sandbox games, survival games, or exploration games, you will enjoy every moment spent with Don’t Starve. If you love all three of those genres, then you’ve just found your new favorite game. It will be as if dark hands have grabbed hold of you and pulled you into the mysterious domain that taunts you with its mysteries.