I like my games to point me in a direction; full of help, full of hand holding and full of instruction.
Well, to a degree anyway.
Don’t Starve: Giant Edition however does none of the above. In fact, it positively thrives in giving you a canvas to do exactly what you want, when you want and how you want. Full of science and magic, there is just the one goal in store for players who wish to jump aboard this freaky bandwagon…Don’t starve.
Klei Entertainment and BlitWorks have brought their wilderness survival title to Xbox One. Playing as Wilson, a scientist who has found himself trapped by an evil demon and whisked off to a mysterious world, you must help our intrepid explorer become one with the harsh environment and its harsher inhabitants as he attempts to make good his escape and find his way back home.
With a Tim Burton feel to proceedings, you can be sure that every single minute of your time with Don’t Starve is quirky and delightful, albeit tinged with a dark freaky side that is just begging to get out. Set as a 2D open adventure, you’ll begin your journey with nothing but your bare hands, but it won’t be long before you are exploring the strange world laid before you with ease. From first picking and collecting the beautiful flowers that grow in the fields, harvesting some grass in order to make a new suit and collecting enough loose rock and twigs to enable the crafting of an axe and more, before eventually fettling enough items for Wilson to make dodgy science machines, set up an alchemist’s dream or building a bog standard storage chest for collecting things in. The world is pretty much your oyster and Klei have ensured that enough items have been included to keep you busy for a very long time with plenty to farm, craft, research and if you are that way inclined, fight.
That’s if you manage to survive mind you. Because when you die, that’s it; you’re left to start all over again. As is the case with many titles, keeping alive is the main aim of the game, but that has never been more true than with Don’t Starve.
Discovery is the main ingredient and it’s pretty essential that you do so as well, because the world is full of dangers and surprises; none more so than when stumbling across pig-men, menacing spiders or some freaks of nature that are best left alone. Yes, there are also beautiful butterflies to watch (and kill), lovely bunnies to view (and kill) and splendid birds to observe (and then kill), and it is these early creatures that will become the backbone of your survival journey. It’s all well and good living on the berries that grow in the forest, but at the end of the day, when night draws in and the camp fire is burning, all we really want to do is go fetch that poor rabbit we’ve trapped – before cooking it alive and consuming it afterwards!
Anything to stay alive.
Yes, Don’t Starve is a wicked wicked game; at times a little too distressing and corrupt but it always contains something that will have you wondering exactly what is round the next corner and exactly how good that next unlockable item is going to be in your quest.
The problem is, you may never get to that next corner, because when you die, you die good and your world is a goner. All those items you’ve painstakingly acquired over the course of numerous days will be gone, all those skills you magically learnt from your science machine will be gone and in its place will just be a load of experience points made available to unlock further unique characters.
Thankfully, it won’t be long before you jump in once more with a new guy or girl, all with different characteristics, ingenuity and charm. Even if the randomly generated levels eventually bore you a little (once you’ve had to endure the boring task of initial collection 50 times it does get a little tedious), there is no doubting you’ll ever find frustration or grief when taking on the challenge with a new character. Replayability-wise, Don’t Starve will go on forever!
And if forever isn’t long enough for your liking, being able to amend a whole host of options like the world size, the seasons in play, the weather, and amount of items you’ll be able to interact with keep it going even longer. The standard Don’t Starve experience is a good one, but if you want to mix things up even more, playing in a darkened map set in the middle of the night, or on an even harsher more unforgiving world is also available. But then you’ve got to be a bit nuts to want to go that far.
There are downsides however and they come about by the solid unmovable camera which begs to be allowed a bit of movement, and the exclusion of any cooperative play. Don’t Starve would work tremendously well if there were either a local co-op or online option available, with two players working in tandem, searching out the goodies and helping each other stay alive at all times. But there isn’t, and that’s a hell of a shame.
Once you can get your head around the fact that Don’t Starve: Giant Edition doesn’t in anyway point you towards any goal, then you’ll find a deep yet mischievous world that grabs you by the neck and sends you off on a journey of discovery. What starts off as a bit of a struggle, soon becomes second nature with the unearthing of items and skills tempting you in for ‘just one more go’, and the glorious weather effects blowing in and out with consummate ease.
Whether or not it works for all will be up for debate, but the vast majority of gamers should be checking it out as a matter of course. I personally thought I’d like my games to have a bit more direction.
I was wrong. Maybe I like them full of magic and science instead!