Survival games really seem to be the in thing right now. If you aren’t mining your way to the Nether in Minecraft or running away from the glitches and bugs in Day One: Garry’s Incident, everybody seems to be in love with this genre. Rightly so, too. It’s thrown some great stuff at us and with hardware advancing more and more the possibilities for the survival games, especially the open world ones, are endless. This being said, Don’t Starve is an interesting take on the whole aspect of survival. With its interesting graphic style, Don’t Starve was heavily praised upon its release for the PC but how would it fair jumping over to the Playstation 4?
The biggest fear for the port, hell, the biggest fear for any PC game ported to console is button mapping. There’s a lot more you can do with a keyboard and mouse – a lot more buttons to press. Don’t Starve has an interesting crafting/creating system, one that is similar to that of Terraria and Starbound. As opposed to those games though, you don’t enter a pause screen/inventory screen to initiate crafting. The inventory and crafting menu are both apart of the main hud screen.
Using specific keys, they’ve done a pretty good job of keeping it simple in terms of navigation while simultaneously keeping control of the player character in-game, which is a very important inclusion. I was initially worried that the game, with its various menus, would leave the player with the inability to control the character while crafting/browsing their inventory, thus leaving them an open target for the monsters scattered around the world. Thankfully they’ve designed the game well to allow easy menu navigation and simultaneous player control. One of the great things with Don’t Starve is, when you die (you’ll do a lot of that), you never blame the game. I’ve found myself in video game purgatory by this game many times, and, whether it’s a mob I’ve angered or the lack of food I’ve carried, it’s always my incompetence that leaves me dead.
Don’t Starve creates an incredible gameplay experience by keeping it simple yet being so very ruthless with it. In fact, I personally brushed that simplicity off as easiness to begins with. Creating a stockpile of berries, carrots and catching a host of rabbits, I felt pretty confident. This wasn’t difficult at all. Then the darkness fell. Then the game changed forever. OK, it wasn’t as bad as its sounds, but unlike in games such as Minecraft, Don’t Starve confines you to the safety of your own campfire at night. Without it, you will simply become a meal to the creatures of the night.
After a few more grizzly demises, I finally made progress by building a “science machine”. I had no idea what it was before I made it. but it sounded awesome! Regardless, it turns out to be a useful tool that adds items to your crafting menu. ‘How are we suppose to know that?’ I hear you ask. Well, truth is, you don’t. I didn’t have a clue until I crafted one. Without the use of the games wiki or online guides, you’ll know nothing and will have to teach yourself everything throughout. The game is cruel like that.
The game’s art style is fabulous. It stands out amongst over games in its category due to the way it uses its 2.5d graphic style. The most impressive thing about Don’t Starve is how different it is to other Klei Entertinament games. The company previously produced Shank and Mark of the Ninja (and others) which followed not only a similar artistic style to each other, but were also 2D sidescrollers. The jump in direction that Don’t Starve takes is a bold move, but the boldness is rewarded with something beautiful. I’ve always been a fan of games that take hand drawn images and convert them into the game we see on screen.
As Don’t Starve shows, you end up with a much more creative world as the things you can design by hand increases the games versatility. The hand drawn style leaves the games with freshness and originality throughout, with the player looking to find more and more new things to explore and create. The game was originally designed sublimely for the PC and I’m glad to report that Don’t Starve has kept its allure having being ported to the PS4.
Don’t Starve is an interesting take on the survival concept. The game looks great and is merciless towards the player (especially someone just starting out) trying to survive as best they can in a world unbeknown to them. With little info on items and sub categories the player, casual gamers primarily, may feel isolated with the lack of an introduction or advice, but even an avid survival fan may be concerned by the objects that seemingly have no use, plus the addition of the words ‘science devices’ may just about terrify anyone when they first begin their journey. Despite the terror of being thrust into a dark world corrupted by evil with no knowledge of what to do, Don’t Starve was brilliant on PC, and has remained excellent after jumping over to console life. A game worth buying (it’s actually FREE for PS+ users) and a game that will take up large portions of your gaming time.
So much to do - so much to create.
Screen clutter may bother some
Lack of introduction may put off some players
Ruthless nature of game may put off some players