'Don't Starve' Makes Surviving Dire Straits In The Wild Fun

January 10, 2014

Whether you know it or not, the core goal in a lot of video games is to simply stay alive. You probably have to do a few things along the way to "beat" the game, but at the root of all those tasks is a continued existence that allows you to be able to do them. Many games take this concept for granted, by giving players infinite continues, or rendering no punishment for death, but one recent PlayStation 4 release from Klei Entertainment takes survival very seriously. Don't Starve is an adorable, action-adventure game, with a heavy emphasis on exploration, that challenges players to survive in the wilderness using only their wits, and whatever they can collect.

Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment

The name "Klei Entertainment" probably sounds familiar, but you might not be able to really place it. Well, the Vancouver, Canada based company has been around for almost nine years now, which all started with their first release in 2006, Eets for the PC. However, it's more likely that you know the developer for a couple of their more recent titles: the excellent 2D brawler Shank, and its sequel Shank 2, along with 2012's surprise hit Mark of the Ninja. Each of their franchises has a completely unique look and feel, and Don't Starve is no different. With its different art style and game mechanics Don't Starve is something completely new for Klei, but that doesn't hold the game back in any way.

Don't Starve is an interesting little game about survival, which is kind of funny, because you're going to die, a lot. Whereas other titles might task the player with simply avoiding enemies to keep their health bar up, Don't Starve layers in additional life sustaining measurements, like managing your hunger and sanity. You start off the game as the gentleman scientist, Wilson, who has been brought to a mysterious world with the promise of infinite knowledge by the demon Maxwell. When you wake up in the woods you have to forage for yourself, picking up whatever you can get your hands on to craft weapons, food, and fire. The game provides no instruction about what to do or where to go, leaving everything up to the player to figure out. Every time you die a new world is procedurally generated and you'll need to start over, collecting a whole new round of resources. As you go along and explore, you'll unlock additional playable characters, each with their own unique skills that provide new twists and turns to surviving the wild.

This week the Console Edition of Don't Starve debuts on the PlayStation 4, as a digital title (that can be downloaded for free by PlayStation Plus members). This is the first console port of the PC, Mac, and Linux title that was originally released last April.

The tagline for Don't Starve is "adapt or die," and, as simple as it is, it fits the game perfectly. The fact that the game doesn't tell you anything about what's going on places the burden of enjoyment squarely on the player, and that isn't something that happens enough in video games.Don't let the fact that the game isn't going to hold your hand scare you, Klei have created a wonderful experience as long as you're up for the challenge. Don't Starve falls into a unique category of game that has some hardcore mechanics, but also doesn't take itself too seriously. It's lighthearted and fun, but you're going to die a lot, and that's what makes it so wonderful.