Don’t Starve is an indie survival game that places the player in the wilderness as one of a variety of different characters each with their own abilities and personalities. Unfortunately, it won’t be just the characters who will be feeling stranded by this game, which serves as a frustrating experience that will leave players asking what could’ve been. Playing through the game it comes increasingly hard to justify its price tag in comparison to other games in its budgetary range and if anything, feels more like an online game than something you can get off Steam. As such, its charm is somewhat limited by the fact that you could easily spend your hard earned dollars on something better and cheaper.
The game begins with the player unconscious and stranded in the middle of nowhere, with a character called Wesley telling you that you ought to get a move on, but that’s all that the player will get in way of direction. Instead, you’re forced to survive all by yourself and collect items which can be used to make a variety of different objects that can help you to make it through the days that go by. Sadly, it seems that will be all that you’ll be doing as there’s very little narrative progress through the story to help keep the players interest. Those seeking an experience that will enthrall them from the beginning will be sorely disappointed by the lack of story, plot or quirkiness to keep them entertained. It’s clear from the get go that the game seeks to emulate rogue-like games, yet lacks the vital qualities and laugh out loud humor to keep the player carrying on despite their many deaths. Don’t Starve instead provides the player with an ultimately forgettable experience as it becomes a pointless slog rather than a memorable struggle.
That’s not to say that Don’t Starve doesn’t have any redeeming qualities and indeed its visual style is extremely impressive, creating a Gothic world which wouldn’t look out of place within a Tim Burton movie. The first character you play as, Wilson, is reminiscent of Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow and if you’ve ever wished to play a game where the visual aesthetics will let you relive fond memories of the aforementioned film, then Don’t Starve is a good place to start. The game is also quite innovative in certain aspects especially when it comes to XP which, instead of being collected as you progress, is gained upon dying which then goes towards unlocking new characters with their own specialties and quirks which are only revealed when you click upon an object. Some of the lines spouted are genuinely hilarious and you’d be hard pressed to find a player who won’t raise a smile when a character tells a rabbit to come out of his hole so that, “I can eat you”. It’s also worth noting that for the first few hours of gameplay, Don’t Starve is an enjoyable experience and as you learn to adapt to the world around you, you’ll start to feel a sense of accomplishment due to the fact that you’re finally starting to conquer the wilderness.
Yet this serves as a key problem within the game that you never can quite progress further after reaching a certain standard of play and instead what made the game initially enjoyable soon becomes annoying as any challenge is repeated time and time again with little variation. It soon becomes same old obstacles time and time again (e.g. pick berries, grass and so on) with the limited amount of potential creations meaning that all that’s left is routine. A free online game may be able to get away with such repetition as they’re meant to be played for a few hours, but as a game that will set you back fifteen dollars, it simply isn’t worth the price tag. The potential within the game may still be realized due to the fact that Don’t Starve has a dedicated development team who actively engage with the player base to try and implement potential ideas for the game. This is integrated within the menu which has a direct link to the forums as well as a countdown for the next update and it’s clear to see that Don’t Starve is a game made with the utmost love by its developers. However this serves only to add to the disappointment of the game as a whole which just isn’t engaging enough to make you want to wait until the next update.
Don’t Starve serves as a somewhat interesting game that ultimately feels like the bare bones version of the future proper release. There’s every possibility that Don’t Starve may reach its potential by expanding upon the overall narrative as well as adding escalating challenges, but at this current time, it’s hard to say that you should splash out on the game. Unless there’s a major update in the near future, you’d be better off waiting until it inevitably becomes part of an indie bundle so that you can briefly jump in and enjoy its first few hours. Until then, your money and time should be spent elsewhere.