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Don't Starve – simple and addictive

4 min read

As impressed as I am with Minecraft, I am completely unable to play it.  Not because I’m a n00b (although that would probably also be true), but because I can’t play any first-person games without turning green and doing my best Linda Blair impression.

That’s why I was SO happy to get Don’t Starve.  It has a simple enough objective as the name would imply.  But the game offers so much more than that.  There’s science and magic and weird tentacles that attack you in the swamp.  What more could you want?

You start the game as Wilson, nicknamed ‘The Gentleman Scientist’.  You begin with nothing and must wander around picking sticks off saplings and berries off bushes.  But don’t worry, after building your science machine you can build farms and weapons and all other manner of things to help you survive.  Which you won’t – I died in my first game on day 5 when the hounds attacked me at night and I hadn’t yet made any form of weapon.  But don’t worry, every time you die you get EXP, which unlocks new players.

My favourite at the moment is Wendy, nicknamed ‘The Bereaved’.  She has some weird gothic references to Edgar Allan Poe and even William Shakespeare, but mostly I like her because of her dead twin sister.  Abigail occasionally appears at night (generally every other night) and attacks anyone who tries to attack Wendy, or who Wendy attacks.  It’s pretty awesome – wait until Abigail is there and then go attack that spider nest! Plenty of backup.

The game has three main gauges and one hidden one.  The primary gauges are hunger, health and sanity, with the hidden one of naughtiness.  Hunger makes sense considering the game is called Don’t Starve.  Health depletes when you are attacked or freeze, or eat something you shouldn’t.  Being alone and trying to survive can make anyone go insane, but in this game it can cause deadly hallucinations – be sure to pick flowers and put them on your head to help out.  Your naughtiness is determined by the number of innocents you murder – kill too many at once and a horrible monster will spawn to come and take revenge.

I love how different the world is each time you play.  Sometimes I am in a world filled with food – berries and carrots and rabbits everywhere.  But no rocks – can’t build proper campfires or advance in science without rocks.  Or maybe you want a world filled with spiders and killer birds?  Yeah, it’s volatile and unpredictable – just the way we like it!

Just when you think you’re doing well, the environment can change.  Winter is coming, and when it does you better have a way of avoiding freezing or starving.  You can use those charming rabbits you caught to make earmuffs, just be careful that it doesn’t mean you go without a food source.

Some people have managed to really thrive, building farms and forts.  I really enjoy trying to do all these things, but I haven’t yet survived through the winter.  Mostly due to my own stupidity – I’ve foolishly attacked bees… and pigs, and ‘beefaloes’.  But I was hungry!

My advice to the new player: make a weapon early on.  You never know when the hounds will come to kill you.  Oh, and make friends with the pigs by giving them food, they are very hardy and will help protect you from the numerous things trying to kill you.  Finally, it’s called Don’t Starve for more than just the in-game food issues; I often forget to eat while playing, so make sure that you take breaks and don’t waste away!

You will need help and advice, so definitely check out this recipe simulator for the crock pot, because it’s awesome.  Actually, the whole wiki is great.  Oh, and if you want a series about someone playing it, watch Sips – he’s just insane.

Don’t Starve is currently available on PC via Steam.

Last Updated: May 17, 2013

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