Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Don't Starve PS4 Review

The people who work at Klei Entertainment are sick.

Why?

Because Don't Starve.

Or rather Don't Starve, go Insane or get Murdered by the Beasts That Wait in the Dark. Yeah, that would've been a much better name.

...

Don't Starve is a 2D survival/crafting game that riffs on the success of Minecraft and creates one of the most compelling experiences on PS4. (It's currently free for PS Plus users so grab it now!) 

You are sucked into a world by an evil man named Maxwell and must stay alive, find Maxwell and escape. You have to manage your hunger and sanity and must make sure you have a light source or during the night (which is completely pitch black) the monsters will kill you. If you die then it's game over, you earn XP to unlock new characters to play as and then you have to start from scratch again. The new characters have different abilities and the world can be changed in the options to feature less of something or the normal amount of something but really the default experience of earning new characters is good enough by itself. The abilities they have is always useful, for instance there is a character who has a lighter and is immune to fire damage, this is endlessly helpful during the night time. 

You start the game with nothing and the only guidance given to you is the recipe bar down the left side of the screen. Your first steps are to acquire food, fire and basic tools. You then go from there acquiring more complex crafting recipes and striving to find Maxwell and escape the hell you are in. The world is gorgeously presented in a sort of hand drawn, 2D style that manages to look gorgeous whilst adding to the games severely melancholic tone. Indeed this tone of melancholy is all pervading, from the art style to the music and even the way the people speak. Voices are done in music and the soundtrack is eerily catchy. It kicks in every now and then and catches you off guard, it's catchy but terrifying. 

The creative vision for this game must have been to craft the most harrowing experience this side of Dark Souls and I have to say they've achieved it in every way. The perma-death, the graphics, the music, the world design, everything in this game is based around death and isolation and the gameplay is such that, through its immense depth, you can find great reward in simply not dying. Don't Starve is a truly superb game, honestly my only complaint is that it seems a perfect fit for co-operative multiplayer but features none. Still, the game is so well done that this can easily be forgiven. 


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