Survival 101 with Don't Starve: In Tools, Hats, and Scary Monsters
“Say, pal, you don't look so good. You'd better find something to eat before night comes.”
Many of you may already be familiar with Klei Entertainment's Don't Starve. Released in April of 2013, this survival “simulator” captured many hearts by drawing inspiration from the adorable-yet-morbid mind of Tim Burton and taking a page out of the “lesson learned” games that are give you a slap on the wrist accompanied by a gentle “Maybe you shouldn't have done that.”
Ah, yes, being murdered again and again by the elements, whatever you might consider them may seem like a harsh punishment, but no, Don't Starve instead offers you consistent and constant learning experiences taking in new information every single time you fail. Failure is a natural part of existence, death only the most natural occurrence in relation to life—everything that lives dies.
Thrust onto an island with nary a modicum of prompt, you venture forth in all your weak-bodied ability to brave this new world. “What do I do? Where do I go? How will I feed myself? Why am I here? Who did this to me?” Answers do not come easily. Or at all. No, nobody is here to explain your purpose, but you know deep within your crippled heart that you must survive at all costs.
You venture forth to gather twigs and rocks and flint, and maybe you craft an axe to chop down a tree. Oh no, you're hungry, though, so you pull some carrots out of the ground and ransack a bush or three for some berries to fill your ever-depleting stomach. How long did that take? Too long, because the sun is going down. In a new world full of the unknown, it's impossible to tell what sort of monstrosities haunt this land in the dead of night. Emphasis on the dead.
A brilliant thought, however—why not take the flint and logs you have from earlier and make a nice, warm fire? Ah, yes, of course! Fire staves off all the horrors of the night, where even the mightiest of creatures are warded off due to their primitive understanding of things that burn them. “Fire bad,” they think in whatever language it is they speak. “Fire bad.”
As you sit beside the fire, you contemplate your actions for the next day as you roast your freshly-pulled carrots or gathered berries over the flame. “What can I do tomorrow?” The brilliance of Don't Starve is that it eagerly prods you forward, without a word, to tread and discover more about the island. Creepy ghouls and scary monsters infest this place, most of them leaving you alone unless they are provoked. However, in the name of SCIENCE(!) and experimentation, you must often leave the bosom of safety and live in the danger zone (DANGEAH ZONE!).
Don't Starve isn't all berry eatin' and fire makin', no sir, but instead you have to create a habitat for yourself. This is your home now and how dare you even consider living like some unclean savage day in and day out. You must do homely things, like build yourself a home area and gather food and make yourself clothes. Wait, clothes? What's wrong with the ones you're wearing?
Note that it's not just your stomach on the line, or your overall health, but also your sanity that is at stake. The horrors of this island will slowly drive you to the mental breaking point, but applying levels of normalcy to your life, that is, wearing dapper hats that you either find or create yourself will allow you to keep all your wits about you. No sense in being the very thing that kills you.
Yet, even with all this knowledge, with all the preparation, you never know what sort of kink is going to be thrown at you. Though Klei have enabled you to defend yourself in every possible manner, you might accidentally forget to feed yourself just enough and you may end up hungry (and subsequently a very charming skeleton) or you may forget to get a new hat and succumb to your instability.
Furthermore, the latest bit of Don't Starve, Reign of the Giants, introduces even more to the world and is reserved for “expert” players. Wetness becomes a factor, and body temperature needs to be regulated via clothes. And what of the giants? Giants, indeed, as they are massive beasts who will pound you into dust at a moment's notice if you so much as come near their beloved territory. Goodbye, little body, I hardly knew ye.
What's this? Ah, of course! Don't Starve Together will soon be a thing, too, as you and possibly up to three friends (or total strangers, you know, whatever) will be able to have a go at surviving the wilderness and helping one another. Like a real life Lord of the Flies, except much more whimsical and less asthmatic.
And all this? You have but one life to live in Don't Starve. Failure means a “game over” for your little dude or dudette and will completely erase your save for that character. Death is very real and it looms over you every possible second. But where's the fun in getting multiple chances? You'll learn something new every time...
“It's getting late. It will be dark soon.”
Day 15 | Klei Entertainment