Saturday, January 11, 2014

3 days of...Don't Starve!

Winter is coming, you must prepare

The loading screen doesn't inspire confidence.
I've got a long standing love for dungeon crawlers and survival games with perma-death. So when I booted up Don't Starve by Klei games for the first time I was excited to see what challenges awaited me. The thrill of constantly being on your last life and losing every bit of progress gives me a sense of thrill quickly, and doesn't stop until the bitter end.

With my limited time each night, I was only able to survive until the first winter. And after 3 days of cruel temperatures and constant attacks by new walrus beasts that had moved in next door my avatar gave in to the cruel nature of his plight. His memory lives on in the scoreboard that lists that he was killed by a Walrus' dartgun.

He may have failed but this game succeeds in delivering lots of fun experiences with the very limited time that much of us have. I don't have to remember where I'm at or what I was in the middle of doing. The Map is very detailed, and allows me to quickly assess my current situation and next course of action. There are lots of supplies to be collected and different things to craft to use to survive. Skeletonized explorers litter the countryside with their used supplies and give a sense of foreboding and dispair. Though their equipment often makes your survival easier, for a time. 
Those eyes aren't real...are they?
The constant death and re-birth of a new character may sound repetitive. For about the first 5 days it is approximately the same for each character. Searching for an appropriate place to establish a base, and picking up sticks, grass, rocks, and the like. Each character that you unlock though, has different abilities, and will change the way you play. The randomly generated worlds with differing locations and resources keeps exploring interesting. The art style, and sound is subtle yet captivating. So each life becomes a time of new discovery, even though the chores may be the same, the world and the way you approach it changes each time. 

The hand drawn art is reminiscent of Corpse Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas, and that dark style of stop motion animation. Characters are crisply drawn, and they are voiced by wind/brass instruments to accompany text comments that differ for each item in the game. The characters all have a different sense of humor, and the dark but witty lines that they deliver are fitting to the world. They made me chuckle many times before I realized I was about to be swallowed by the dark, or attacked by my characters insanity induced hallucinations (which are quite deadly). 

All these spiders want are a friend in this unfriendly world.
There are some parts of the game that can become monotonous. The first few days are nearly exactly the same each game. This first portion of scavenging can take up to 15 minutes, and feels after 3 or 4 games in a row like it's wasting your time. I wish that I could enter the world with some small amount of resources already in a pack, even if it was just to get me past this first stage. 

After this firsts stage though, and surviving the night and wolf attacks, you are treated to a world that opens up, and offers limitless situations. I have yet to face the first large boss style creature, or travel underground, and each games feels fresh, new, and fun. It never feels like a waste of time, and I can relax and enjoy the art and sound infinitely it seems. No other game delivers the same experience for me. 

I have heard that after you are established and have done everything the game can become predictable and boring. Though there are sliders that can alter the conditions of the world you start in, and a story mode that is many times more challenging than just surviving. So there is definitely enough content for the moderate or casual gamer to enjoy, while still offering a challenge that will not keep you up all night. 

This is how my survival station ended up looking before winter took it's toll.
For the price in the Steam Store, I definitely recommend this to anyone that likes: survival games, artistic stylized graphics, dark aesthetics. I especially recommend this to people with little time on their hands that still want to enjoy a survival games. 

Next week: I'll play the game with the lowest meta-score (40) on my Steam List! Shellshock 2: Blood Trails! Let's hope that I survive the experience and come back with some truly horrific experiences. 

Have feed back or a suggestion on what I should try next? Leave a comment and I'll respond and (possibly) play the game you suggest!

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