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Review: Don’t Starve, Survival Crafting with a Twist

Last Updated on September 20, 2019 by Michael Brockbank

I am a fan of crafting and survival games. The more recipes I have to discover, the happier I am. When my cousin sent me Don’t Starve through Steam, I was a bit skeptical simply because of the graphics. However, it grew on me quite quickly.

Which goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover…even if that cover is digital.[template id=”145″]

What is Don’t Starve?

Don’t Starve is a survival game that pits you in a vast open world as you try to survive to advance to the next area. Starting off with nothing, you have to harvest nearly everything you come across to build gear to help you.

In this regard, it’s very similar to games like Minecraft, Subnautica, Raft and even H1Z1: Just Survive.

But what makes this game much different is the story, script and overall visual appeal.

Think of a survival game if it was directed by Tim Burton.

What Kind of a Game is Don’t Starve?

This review is focused purely on the Don’t Starve vanilla title. This means no updates, DLC or expansions. I’ll write an article about Don’t Starve Together in a week or two, which is essentially the multiplayer adaptation of the game.

It fits the survival crafting genre of gaming with an overhead view. Which is great because not everything needs to be in first person to drive a good story arc.

Most of the items you build are locked behind discovery. For example, I can’t build better gear until I find some gold to create the science machine.

It’s a slow-paced game that has more of a relaxed feel to it. That is, until night falls. Without a campfire, you won’t last long.

Where Can You Get It?

As I said, my cousin bought it for us some time ago in Steam. It was part of a duo-pack of the single and multiplayer aspects. Currently, you can download it for $14.99, unless it drops during the summer or winter sales.

In reality, I think it’s definitely worth the $14.99 price tag. I’d even spend a few bucks more for how well this game is put together.

If you don’t have Steam, you can also pick it up for:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Xbox One
  • PS4
  • PS3
  • PS Vita
  • Wii U
  • Nintendo Switch
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What Are Some of the Most Notable Features?

First and foremost, the graphics are very well designed. It’s like watching some kind of weird retro-style, 2D movie on a 3D layout. It has a gothic overtone and reminiscent of early 20th century artwork.

Like I said, Tim Burton would be proud.

Even the waves of the water look like cardboard cutouts and move as if someone was under the stage moving them.

For me, it’s simply a brilliant concept. It’s along the lines of Cuphead only with less of a cartoonish approach.

There’s something to be said about retro appeal in today’s gaming community.

I hope that means Commodore software will be making a comeback…but I won’t hold my breath.

Well Executed Script

Another feature that stands out the most for me is the text script in-game. There is a comedic feel to the comments, interactions and speeches made by NPCs as well as the player.

For example, after cutting down a tree for wood and pine cones, click the stump. One of the things your character will say is, “Take that, nature!”

Using Mods

Don’t Starve is primed for and encourages using mods. It takes a bit of the work out of modifying the game as you can add these files from the options menu.

This is quite useful as it can be such a pain to update files in some games.

Using the Controller

Although I haven’t tried it myself, my daughter loves the idea of using her controller with Don’t Starve. Personally, I am fine with the keyboard and mouse layout.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to kick back and relax with the controller as opposed to sitting upright at my desk.

Changing World Settings

One of the options I like to play around with the most is changing the world settings. It’s kind of like Minecraft in that regard as you can alter the seed of your world.

You can increase or decrease various resources and elements to make the game as difficult or easy as you like.

Now, if I can just create a seed that helps me prevent starving to death so quickly without it feeling like I’m cheating.

Hunger Management

The biggest problem the game has is the control of your hunger. After all, eating a rabbit should fill your stomach more than a carrot.

On the upside, you can always hunt down pig men and slice yourself up some pork chops. It’s a bit dark, but it fills the belly.

How’s the Repeat Playability?

Because the map has a random element to it, repeating play is about on par for games like Diablo II. Every time you start a new game, the layout is different. This means you need to devise an entirely new strategy for survival.

However, I don’t know if it has the staying power of something like Minecraft. Don’t get me wrong, I can see playing Don’t Starve for an exceptionally long time. But there is only so much you can do within the game’s environment.

After all, you’re still following a set story line. Which is fine with me; I love a good tale. In fact, Diablo II has the same issue. The environment changes, but the path of the game stays the same.

With that being said, I’m sure many people could spend in excess of several hundred hours exploring this game in full.

Is Don’t Starve Worth the Price?

I’m often leery about handing money over to indie developers like Klei, the creator of Don’t Starve. You never know if they are going to be a legit company or one that simply takes your money and run.

However, I would have no problem buying this game if it wasn’t given to me. For the amount of content provided and the longevity of the game itself, $15 may be undercutting the value of Don’t Starve.

It’s a finished and nicely polished product that has glowing reviews in many sites…including this one.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Don’t Starve is a great addition to anyone’s library who enjoys creative, crafting, survival games. The artwork is unique, the story and characters are engaging and the overall layout flows well while you play.

What more can you ask out of a $15 game? If you have the extra money, you might want to give this title a try.[template id=”543″]

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop, to name a few.