Don’t Starve: Console Edition Review
Don’t Starve has been asking players to put their survival skills to the test for the better part of a year now – considering the title was originally released through Steam in April of last year. A little over a week ago, Klei Entertainment took the strictly PC game and adapted a console version just for the PlayStation 4. It comes as no surprise that Don’t Starve made its way over to console, especially with the praise and high markings it got from multiple critics. The action-adventure courageously took the leap to next generation, and in doing so gave gamers on the PlayStation 4 a chance to experience the title for free.
Now, one downfall – or perhaps an upside, to Don’t Starve is the lack of story. If you’re the type of gamer who looks for a compelling story in each title you pick up, then you might want to turn the other direction. While there is a skeletal structure of a story within Don’t Starve, its primary focus is on surviving. For those completely unfamiliar with the basic premise of Don’t Starve, it essentially goes a bit like this: players take on the role of a man named Wilson, a gentleman scientist, who seems immersed in some sort of scientific experiment that includes pouring some type of liquid from a vile into a beaker of sorts full of powder. Unfortunately for Wilson, the experiment blows back into his face by way of explosion, and it seems that the scientist contends with sitting in a chair, rather than making another attempt at the experiment. It’s not until a voice bellows from Wilson’s radio that his curiosity is peaked once more, striking up an offer that the scientist finds hard to refuse. The voice in the radio allows Wilson to believe that the knowledge he holds is secret, and he’s willing to share it with the scientist. All seems well and good, and Wilson even constructs a machine of great promise. Then things take a turn for the worse, when it turns out the voice belongs to a demon like character named Maxwell. Maxwell uses the machine that Wilson built him in order to teleport the scientist into an almost barren land. This is where the gamer comes in, and takes control of Wilson in order to help him to survive through this mysterious land; otherwise it quite literally could mean the scientist’s life.
It seems as the years have gone on, gamers have gotten a bit spoiled, at least in regards of games basically holding one’s hand. Whether players are a fan of this tactic or not, Don’t Starve does not veer completely away from this truth. In fact, most everything players need to know is laid out for them in a clear, and concise manner. With a simple click of the L2 button here, or a press of the square button there, players are able to easily navigate through Don’t Starve’s controls. The beauty of the title is it takes advantage of the mechanics gamers are already familiar with when it comes to the PlayStation 4. That being said, Wilson is easily controlled by the analog sticks, and each action that he is allowed to do – whether it be inspect, chop, pick and etc, has a little picture next to said action that easily tells players which face button they will have to press. The same goes for scrolling through collected items, or essentials – and other like items, as they are only a simple click of either the L2 button or R2.
In addition to the easy to maneuver mechanics of Don’t Starve, the game offers much more than a simple click of this, click of that. Where the addiction to the title kicks in lies with the survival aspect of the title. The whole aim of Don’t Starve is to make sure that Wilson does not get bestowed imminent death by way of starvation, going coo-coo, or the inability to avoid what goes bump in the night. With an ample amount of resources lying around, players are able to build tools and other various items that will help their survival along the way. One very cool thing about Don’t Starve is the ability to find wormholes that will transport you to a different area, or holes in the ground that allow you to climb down to an abundance of supplies. Another fun part of the game is that players are not restricted to playing as Wilson, and as experience points are gained, gamers have the potential to unlock other characters.
Some might argue that the graphics in Don’t Starve might have sought inspiration from Tim Burton. At base, the graphics might seem simplistic – especially in the introductory scene where it looks as if Wilson and his surroundings were only sketched, but with a little big of digging, or playing rather, it’s evident that the graphics are far from simple. Gamers are no stranger to more comic-esque graphics – what with Telltale’s The Walking Dead being a hit, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be quite accustomed to what Don’t Starve has to offer. While the title opted not to take a realistic approach with the visuals, what is given in terms of graphics more than does the trick. For the most part, the graphics within Don’t Starve are strictly 2D, but that doesn’t take away from the touches of shading in certain areas that allow for a three dimensional illusion. Despite the underlying dark tones of the game – even the pops of color leaning towards darker shades, here is still an enjoyable cutsey factor that Don’t Starve possesses.
Sound is always an important part to a game. While gamers look to have the background noise – as well as voice acting, to set the pace for the whole game, they do not want it to be the main focus. That being said, a word to the wise in regards to Don’t Starve is that gamers will not want to sit on the main screen for long. While the introduction tune is quite charming at first, gamers really will not want it to play over and over again in quick succession. However, a redeeming quality lies within the in game sounds. The whole premise of Don’t Starve is for Wilson to survive out in the wilderness. One might not be eager to believe such a situation with the wrong noises – for example hearing a car horn, or cars in general. Klei Entertainment definitely took this into consideration while constructing Don’t Starve and the sounds – ranging from birds squawking to the chopping down of trees, allows one to believe that you really are toughing it out in the great outdoors. Where the introduction chime might drive one wild, the same cannot be said once a player is in game. In fact, the sounds of Wilson’s footsteps hitting the ground below him, or the bustle of gathering twigs from a sapling, as well as the chime that ensues once players have collected something add to the overall charm of Don’t Starve.
For most gamers these days – and especially while the recession seems to be never ending, it’s hard to turn away help where getting games are concerned. A definite positive to players getting their hands on Don’t Starve for their PlayStation 4 is that the game is absolutely free. Yeah, that’s right, with PlayStation Plus gamers can get Don’t Starve at no charge to them. No chump change will have to be spent on the title, and while this might be the determining factor for most, that does not take away from how nicely put together Don’t Starve is. The cartoony graphics – with their slightly dark twist, the challenge of surviving in the hardest of conditions, and overall addictive factor of the game make Don’t Starve worth the download.