|Discovering a rather forbidding camp|
A big part of the game is a sandbox. Start a new game, get plunked down in the middle of nowhere, then scramble around gathering sticks, grass, flint, and the like to build basic tools like axes for chopping down trees, or pick axes for breaking down stone. Then use these logs, rocks, and so forth as material to make fancier contraptions, like the all important science machine, or alchemy engine. All the while, players still need to make sure that their character is reasonably fed. One has to constantly keep track of all sorts of different variables. How far away is winter? Do I gather materials to make warm clothing, or stock up on berries and prairie dogs for food? There's no one right answer for the sort of dilemmas that Don't Starve throws at players, and a big part of the fun is hatching a plan to overcome them.
|Seeing dead trees like this usually means a tentacle attack|
is right around the corner
After finding a decent amount of supplies, and getting a handle on prioritizing foraging, a large part of one's time in Don't Starve will be spent trying out different things to build. There are some absolute necessities like the science machine and alchemy engine, as they are needed to make several core components in other devices, then there are the things that are nice to have like a crock pot, or a tent. Trying out making these things, and seeing how they work in a camp is a lot of fun. Things like the crock pot are especially interesting because they allow for an added level of experimentation, as that device is used for cooking, so combining different ingredients will yield different results. This experimentation makes it tough to even talk about some of the things that players can make in the game, because the process of discovery is a very big part of Don't Starve, and the satisfaction that comes from it is fantastic. So, I'm not going to go into more detail than that. Just try building stuff and see what happens. It's a lot of fun.
|Some spiders were giving me a hard time, so burning down the entire|
forest in which they lived seemed like a logical course of action
Another interesting thing that players will need to keep an eye on is their character's sanity. Being tossed out in a forest with nothing, then having to fend for one's self can be a terrifying experience, then the night comes and it's pitch black. The darkness is the scariest time of the game, and players need to keep a fire going to keep the things that bump in the night away. As a fire slowly goes out, strange sounds emerge from the darkness. This more than anything else will impact a character's sanity. So, players need to keep a fire going, or they can make a tent, and have their character just sleep through the night. The latter option will restore some sanity, but it will cause the person to wake up a bit hungry, so there is a trade off to keep in mind. If a character's sanity is depleted enough, they will start to hallucinate, and these creatures that they imagine can be very dangerous. While it's challenging enough to try and keep from starving, staying sane adds another element to the game that is pretty interesting. Trying to strike a balance in managing the two can be fun, and if you're bored you can always just let your character go crazy and deal with the consequences.
|Surviving the winter is very|
If players get tired of playing in the sandbox, there is a more structured form of play to be had in Don't Starve via its adventure mode. Starting this mode isn't as simple as clicking a button on the title screen. Instead, players start a game in sandbox mode, and have to explore until they find a rather ominous looking portal. Travelling through it will take you to adventure mode. Here players must hunt down Maxwell, the aforementioned jerk who teleports your character to the wilderness. This is done by gathering "Things" which are components for making more portals to continue to chase Maxwell. There are all sorts of conditions one will have to deal will, often times random, like being plunked down in a frozen tundra where players have to find a way to keep from freezing to death while hunting down that bastard. This is made all the more difficult, because players have everything that they gathered in sandbox mode taken away when beginning adventure mode, forcing them to start from scratch. However, if you fail in adventure mode, you just get sent back to the portal in sandbox mode with all the items that you had before entering the portal, and can try again if you like. When traveling through portals between chapters in adventure mode, however, players can then carry a maximum of four items with them including stacked items. It's an interesting change of pace when you want a break from the more open-ended main game. I just wish that there was actually an option on the title screen to enter this mode, because it feels like a large, unnecessary first step to have to wander around for a while in-game before actually beginning this mode of play.
|Willow likes to burn things|
Players looking for a game that will consume them for the next while should consider Don't Starve. The whole process of gathering supplies, and making a go of surviving in the wild while fending off starvation, madness, and predators is quite entertaining. There is a constant need to hammer out a logical way of going about things in order to survive, all the while experimenting and exploring so to discover better ways of staying alive, with hunger and sanity a constant force to keep driving forward, making for a very satisfying experience.
- Process of discovery is very satisfying
- The potential to go insane adds an interesting element to the game
- Very nice aesthetic
- Could use more types of creatures in the world
- Being able to start adventure mode from the title screen would be nice
Score: 8.5 / 10