The Name Serves as a Decent Reminder...
I've always been a fan of open-world games which turn you loose and let you do your own thing, but to be honest, I wasn't terribly interested when first I heard of Don't Starve. Something about it didn't really "click" with me. Then I tried the demo. I was almost immediately hooked, and excitedly logged on to Steam to buy into the closed beta! Around eight or so hours later, I realized I'd not eaten anything that day.
That's the thing about Don't Starve, you see: it's a deceptively simple game about survival and exploration which somehow manages to be wildly addictive at the same time. After selecting a character, you're plopped down into the middle of a hostile, alien wilderness by some strange, tall fellow in a suit.
His name is apparently Maxwell.
The majority of your first few days will consist, depending on the map you've found yourself on, of a frenzied, engaged search for food and building materials. You'll want to make sure you have enough food to last through the night, and enough fuel to stoke a fire. Trust me: you don't want to get caught in the dark. There are things there best left to the imagination. Anyone who's ever played Zork will understand.
Once you've established a more permanent base, you'll want to start considering other things, as well: constructing a science machine and feeding it materials will allow you to gain "Research Points", which can be used to unlock new crafting recipes such as hats, armor, better tools, better weaponry... you get the idea. Recipes you've unlocked on one playthrough persist through to the next, making for an easier time each time you die. And trust me: you probably will.
All it takes is a single slip up. Maybe you didn't keep a close enough eye on the durability of your armor, maybe you roamed a bit too far from your homestead, maybe you don't have enough food, maybe the forest decided to come to life and kill you. Whatever the cause, you'll probably meet the reaper eventually while playing Don't Starve. You're going to want to at some point, too.
At the beginning of the game, you're limited to Wilson, The Gentleman Scientist (he can grow a magnificent beard!). Each day you survive in Don't Starve nets you just a bit more experience than the previous one; this experience in turn goes towards unlocking new characters with different capabilities. Thus far, my favorite is Willow, who automatically starts a fire when night falls; this means you've no need to fear the dark any longer. Currently, there are only five different characters available, though as the game is still in beta, more are likely to come soon.
All in all, Don't Starve looks like it'll be a fantastic addition to the sandbox survival genre, and it's definitely one you should pick up on launch day - though if you have the cash, I'd recommend picking it up now. It might not be finished yet, but it's still well worth the $12 price tag.
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A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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