Don’t Starve – A First Impression
When exploring Steam you often stumble on that one game that catches your attention. You look at it for a long while, and even though it looks interesting you think to yourself, “But there are so many other titles to look at!”. That was the case with me and Don’t Starve. It was almost like a Tango, where we would keep passing each other on the different Sales, but my wallet would order me to look elsewhere. The game was not expensive, and the fact that you got two for the price of one should had rang some bells, but it did not, not until recently. A friend gifted it to me when I showed him a Live Stream of the game, and I planned on making a shared purchase. So, Merry Christmas Everybody! Well, maybe except for poor Wilson. A few things immediately surprised me about Don’t Starve. First of all, it’s overall size. There are many different games about, when I see a game on Steam however I have to check what I will have to throw away from my Disk this time around to accommodate the new purchase. Don’t Starve took up only 240 MBs. Project Zomboid also took under 200 MBs. What is my point? Both Don’t Starve and Project Zomboid while being “Small Games” on the Disk offer gigantic worlds, with plenty of content. Another important point, they both look good. Project Zomboid in its own gruesome way, but Don’t Starve is absolutely Gorgeous. What more is there to Don’t Starve? Let’s give it a crack.
For your information, this First Impression was released in December 2012, so it does not include all the awesome new stuff that were added to the game since then (such as Winter, more objects, more characters, more monsters, and a final “Victory” objective). So, if you are under a positive impression after reading this article multiple it by either 1.5 or 2, to get a good idea of how fun Don’t Starve is. I finished writing a “Survivor’s Journal” where I write about my recent attempt at Don’t Starve.
Don’t Starve – The Player
In Don’t Starve you start off as Wilson. Although in the current Early Beta the game itself does not mention why you end up in this strange new Land or who is Maxwell we can reach one quick conclusion; There is no quick way home, we’re hungry, and it’s getting dark, quickly. Whenever you start a new game you end up with no equipment whatsoever. You have to quickly get your wits about you, gather whatever resources you can from the ground and plants, make some tools, scavenge for food and make yourself a nice fireplace, before your first night sets in. It all sounds a lot like Minecraft, where you would get some easy food, make some basic tools and then locks yourself in a dirt house for the night. In Don’t Starve this has a different feeling to it altogether. You are not restricted to one spot, instead your home is where you have a warm fireplace, and some of the essential tools you need. At first you will be forced to drift, almost like a nomad (in which time Wilson can develop a rather epic beard), until you find enough resources, and a proper spot, that you can call your own.
Don’t Starve has three things that can kill you. The most basic ones are the monsters. Some of them are hostile by default, others are only hostile if you get too close or you attack first. There is a decent assortment of death dealing monstrosities, and depending on where you go something else might kill you each time! The second thing that might kill you is Hunger. Keeping Wilson fed does not seem that difficult. However, Hunger is an ever present threat, and it is not easy to keep a huge stock of food to allow you to focus on other things. That said, Wilson (and you) have a wide choice of method to keep your food stocks up. You can create Farm Plots, or replant Berry Bushes, go fishing and hunting. Once you have your basic materials you can cook them over a fire, and create complex food recipes at a Crock Pot. Each food type is slightly different, while some of them might heal you and fill you up, others might actually kill you, harm you or have a selection of other intriguing results. The third thing that can (and I presume most often will) kill you is the “Darkness”. The Night Time is your main foe and enemy. If you are ever unlucky enough to end up in complete darkness you will be unable to move and the Gru is gonna get you (aka. Kill you). The only way to survive the Night is to start a fire or carry a torch. That said you always need extra fuel for your fire to make sure it does not go out in the middle of the night.
Death in Don’t Starve plays out in the same way like in many other Survival Games. The game ends, you lose all your stuff and have to start again. The twist about Don’t Starve is that anything you researched during your previous game will pass onto your next one. This does mean that eventually you will not have to do “Research” (which is also another part of the game) and instead you will be able to focus on surviving. In addition you get experience upon your death, the amount depending on how long you survived for. If you get enough Experience over the games you will unlock new characters, each one with a unique and different trait(s). During the game you can change your character through the use of a Tent (a rather interesting mechanic), otherwise you just have to die during your current game in order to start a game with a different character.
Having covered this part, there is of course more to Don’t Starve than just Research, Eating, Killing and surviving the night. You can make yourself some useful (and stylish) hats, arm yourself, set traps for unknown monstrosities, raise your own “Smallbird”, or create your own army of Pigmen and lead them against whatever “Toughy” you have in mind. Let’s talk a bit about the world of Don’t Starve.