Don’t Starve: Console Edition PlayStation 4 Review
Klei Entertainment is well-known for their past work in the 2D action-platformer space. The Shank series, and even more impressively Mark of the Ninja, have helped the studio make a name for itself. When the survival simulation Don’t Starve was announced I found its theme to be a bit out-of-place for the studio, but I was nonetheless excited to see what they could offer.
On the surface Don’t Starve is all about surviving as long as possible in the most inhospitable of circumstances. Staving off hunger, maintaining your health and holding onto your sanity are your main goals. But once you get more comfortable with the game, its really about the ability to thrive rather than simply survive. Don’t Starve stands as one of the finest time management and survival simulations around.
The day/night cycle is central to Don’t Starve. During morning, midday and even early evening you’ll need to scrounge for food, materials, and even evade the many dangerous animals and monsters that lurk in the wilderness. One thing is absolutely certain in Don’t Starve, you’ll need a light source when the moon rises, or your toast. Each session begins with a brand new, randomly generated world map for you to explore and survive. The map is broken into several different ecosystems, from welcoming forests, to horrifying swamps. You’ll find a decent amount of food growing in the more generous biomes, but it’s almost imperative that you become a skilled hunter to survive for a long period.
Rightfully so, Don’t Starve is about as unforgiving as a game gets. You’re going to die; a lot. But don’t let it deter you from really enjoying the experience. It’s very rewarding once you begin to overcome obstacles and craft newer, better ways to persist. One thing I can say about the frequent deaths you’ll encounter in Don’t Starve is that their almost always completely justified. I found myself constantly weighing the risk vs reward for almost all of my actions. Sometimes I really wanted to better my situation, went for it, and died in the process; and that’s fine, I knew the risk I was taking. A host of characters unlock as you put time into the game. Each character has a specific tool or skill that makes some aspect of the game easier, but it usually comes at a cost. One last thing to note, Don’t Starve won’t hold your hand, even in the beginning. The game throws you into a sinfully treacherous environment without telling you a thing, it’s trial by fire from the get-go.
The frighteningly distinct cartoon visuals Don’t Starve treats the player to perpetuate the genuinely strange world Klei has created. I found everything about Don’t Starves presentation enjoyable. The diverse range of ecosystems were skillfully portrayed as were the creatures that inhabited them. The characters, animations, and even the environments were all delightfully simplistic and served their purpose fantastically.
The events of Don’t Starve are set in motion by the failure of the Gentlemen Scientist by the name of Wilson. His unsuccessful experiment leads him to follow the instruction of a voice emanating from his radio. The voice tricks him into creating a strange, forbidden device. Only after it’s construction does Wilson discover the true nature of his muse. He’s immediately transported to a mysterious world and left to die.
The disturbing sounds you hear in the wilderness and the playfully ominous original score contribute heavily to the immersion of Don’t Starve. Each action has its own audible identity and the monsters of Don’t Starve sound just as menacing as they appear. Needless to say, Don’t Starve features a fantastic array of sounds of music.
In the end, Don’t Starve inherently offers a huge amount of replay value; which is very rare indeed. The steep learning curve is fair and ultimately makes surviving for longer period of time very gratifying. I was elated when I lasted a week in Don’t Starves foreboding landscape. From an audio/visual standpoint I probably couldn’t ask for a more all-encompassing experience. Don’t Starve may be PlayStation Plus’s game of the month, but purchasing it would be worth every penny.
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