[Review] Don’t Starve: Science Beards and Hairy Beasts

Published on July 23rd, 2013

1
If it’s cheap and cheerful, I’ll normally take it. So when Don’t Starve popped up on steam I bought it. I thought this charming little blighter might burn a few minutes of my time, and I’m a big fan of survival anything. I’ve spent days trying to keep my character alive in Lost in Blue, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. There’s something deeply gratifying about managing to keep your character alive despite insurmountable odds. Minutes have turned to hours and days on Don’t Starve, and it’s infuriatingly elitist nature drives me back for more.

Don’t Starve is an open world point and click survival game. You are plonked unceremoniously into a randomly generated terrain and left to your own devices. There is no hand holding. There is no tutorial. You are alone. Hopefully you manage to craft an axe and gather wood for a fire, if not, you’ll probably die.

 2

Using science and growing beards. All in a day’s work.

You’ll start as Wilson, a gentlemanly scientist, and you’ll eventually unlock other playable characters, each with their own unique traits and abilities. Wilson grows a manly beard that you can shear off and make it into tiny Wilson tributes, sacrificial! The longer you survive with your character, the more experience points you gain. There are a few instances where characters cannot be unlocked by experience points however, and the endeavour to unlock the character known as Maxwell is a hellish one.

 3

Dapper bugger just leaves. Charming.

There is one goal: Survive. To do so you must keep your character’s sanity, health and hunger bars from depleting. Keeping your character fed and suitably warm will lead you to gather and hunt resources, and keeping out of the darkness at night by building a fire will keep you sane. Your health bar? You will encounter wolf dogs. They will gnaw your health bar into oblivion. You will most certainly die.

 4

Hairy beasts, birds and insects all want to dance in your insides.

If there’s one marmite feature here, it’s this: you will get no achievements for your efforts other than unlocking new characters. What keeps you playing? The sense of fulfilment you get from it. Knowing you went from being killed by angry bees on day two, to lasting through the winter makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Hey it might not be climbing a mountain but get a group of friends together that play the game and you’ll each have feats to brag about. Each death will be a lesson learnt, and you build on those experiences. Games like Dark Souls and Monster Hunter keep me playing with their unashamedly unforgiving nature.  Because of this you will die, and you will die a lot. It will be trial and error, and you’ll certainly be back for more.

 4

Tree Ents are not as friendly as I thought.

Other than unlocking new characters to play with, death in this game is just that. Death. You lose everything. You start out with a clean slate, which can get a bit tedious, living out the same starting five days, however, the sense of accomplishment each time you hit a milestone in this game is a reward in itself. There are no gamerpoints, no rewards, no trophies. Pack up your medal case because there are no shinies here Mr. Magpie.

 5

Go out in glorious flames, at least you won’t die cold.

Your death will come in numerous shades, from the simple starvation to being mauled by a beefalo, or snapped up by a swap-tentacle. The creature designs are whimsical and maintain the twisted-storybook like look to the game. You’ll see rabbits, turkeys, pig-men, hairy beefalo and woolly elephants. Spiders are numerous and creepy stilt-legged birds prowl rockier areas. There are so many different environmental elements to explore and interact with that this sandbox will keep you exploring into the wee hours of the morning.

 6

The birds do not want to be your friend. No hugs for you.

Aesthetically it really tickles my fancy. With looks that spring straight out of pop up books hailing from the Addams family. It’s a quaint almost Tim-burton look. Sinister and child-like but it’s pulled off in a way so that the game just comes across as highly stylised. Its soundtrack consists (at my time of play) of one creepy number. It sounds like the background music to a circus in a horror flick, and really adds to the atmosphere of the game. However, play long enough you’ll be searching for something different to play in the background. If there’s one thing I could change about this game, it would be to give it some sort of musical diversity.

7

This game is for those who love a challenge and who aren’t put off by a bit of grinding, (this is a survival game, there will be an element of repetition). It’s beautifully presented with great opportunities to explore, and with regular updates and new content you’ll always have something new.  If you liked The Binding of Isaac, or Dungeons of Dredmor you’ll probably like this game too.

 

Thankfully for me, there’s no underwater bit. Spiders I can endure, but fish are just too freaky.
This game is a must have for anyone into their indie games, or for those of you who don’t like being told what to do.

Liked this game? Hated it? Comments? Wallet destroyed by steam summer sale?
Use that box below!
Escapingirl

Comments

  1.  Posted by johnnykashmir on July 24th, 2013, 14:26 [Reply]

     I must of looked at this game at least 20 times during the steam sale trying to decide if I pull the trigger or not , in the end I didn't buy after this great review ill certainly be getting it next time it's in a sale . Great review as always keep up the good work

    •  Posted by El Trevan on July 28th, 2013, 23:00 [Reply]

       Thanks Johnny, Let me know what you think of the game once you've gotten round to playing it! Escapingirl, readyplayertwo

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