These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.
How long do you think you could survive in the wilderness? That’s the question asked of players in Don’t Starve, a delightfully morose survival action-role-playing game from Klei entertainment. Armed with nothing but your gentlemanly wits, you’ll guide your character to survival in a harsh and unforgiving world—confronting monsters, the dark, insanity, and of course, starvation. Here are three reasons why this is the next game you’ll want to download.
Resourcefulness is your only friend: When the game begins, your player protagonist Wilson is alone in a strange land, with birds, trees, saplings, and bushes around you. With these meager resources, you’ll build your future. Nearly everything in the game is a resource that can be utilized in some way. For example, gathering twigs and flint will help you build an axe, and an axe will let you cut down a tree; and grass, pine cones, and logs can all be used to sustain a fire. While the resource gathering and building aspects of Don’t Starve are similar to Minecraft, the world of Don’t Starve is much less forgiving.
Tim Burton-esque design: This feeling of doom fits in with the game’s Edward Gory/Tim Burton-esque art style. The paper cutout graphics provide a distinctive vision of Wilson’s fraught world. The characters are both twee and deadly—you’ll chuckle at the evil frogs or spiders—and then run scared as they try to murder you. The world feels fully realized and brimming with life: The birds fly off when you approach them, pine cones can be planted to create trees, mushrooms only appear at dusk or dawn, and bunnies can be caught and cooked. Playing for hours will still reveal little details you missed the first few days.
Cruel, unforgiving world: Those first few days aren’t easy, partly because Don’t Starve doesn’t offer a tutorial. But the lack of an introduction actually works in the game’s favor, as you’ll naturally explore and interact with the world around you. Unlike the full console version of the game, Don’t Starve Pocket Edition only has a survivalist mode which is unapologetic in its difficulty. The clock is always ticking until nightfall and your starvation meter is always on the decline; the sense of urgency is immediate. In this way, Don’t Starve owes a great deal to the rogue-like tradition. Your character is going to die many, many times before you figure out how to build the necessary materials to survive a bit longer.
To make things even more difficult, all deaths are permanent. While you can save and quit your game at any time (handy when you’re on the bus), any death will result in a delete of the save file. I’ve heard of difficult games, but such a design decision just seems cruel.
Don’t Starve is for players who don’t need their hands held when entering a new world, who in fact prefer to be tossed to the wolves and forced to fight their way out. Don’t Starve can be frustrating at first, but if you spend some time with it, you’ll find the world to be beautiful and unique. But still deadly. Always, always deadly.