Banner by ERICVOLTAGE
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 4 (PSN)
North American Release Date: 7th January 2014
European Release Date: 8th January 2014
Trophies: 2 | 1 | 7
Trophy Guide: Don't Starve: Console Edition Trophy Guide by mattveego
What is it?: A Playstation 4 port of the well received PC indie Roguelike. It Features Pig-Men and manure, among other things.
Into The Wild
Don't Starve is all about the joy and terror of discovery and the game doing it's best to murder you in the process.
You play as Wilson, a gentleman of science (and of fine beard growing) who is dumped into the darkly-charming, Tim Burton-esque, isometric wilderness after being duped into releasing the demonic antagonist, Maxwell (essentially Satan in a suit). With next to no instruction on what you should do, an initially intimidating run of trial and error begins as you figure out how to build an axe to chop trees into firewood, construct a shelter and scavenge for berries in an attempt to avoid failing the game's one given objective (the title is a dead giveaway).
You manage to survive that first night, having gotten to grips with the exasperatingly multifaceted, real-time pop-up crafting menu and inventory, and built a fine fire to stave the creeping darkness and maintain your precious sanity, and you wonder: ''what's so difficult about this?''
In the morning, you might try to see what happens when you hit a beehive with your axe, only to find yourself chased by some understandably disgruntled bees. Getting far enough away from the angry swarm, you take a breather but fail to notice a sodding great tentacle pop out of the ground and it swiftly whips you to death. Perma-Death. Game over. Start from the top. No loading of a previous save. Everything is lost. The lesson to be learned? Be aware of your surroundings. That, and maybe don't attack a beehive (though, on reflection, one should think that would be fairly obvious).
It's moments like this you can consider with great enthusiasm when talking to others who've played: the oft used art of discovering things for yourself and sharing those things with others because it's fun to tell the story, rather than watching a YouTube Let's Play or reading an intricate guide.
Likely to be how you look when things get out of hand in Don't Starve
Every time you think you've figured out a sound strategy for survival, your own curiosity about uncovering more and more of the randomly generated map and its potential secrets will inevitably jeopardise the progress you have made. Rather than just ramp up the difficulty as you progress, Don't Starve generally lets you get on with your basic foraging and surviving with only minor threats to be concerned with, but always dangles the arsenic-laced carrot of discovery by enticing you deeper and deeper into the unknown.
It's a system that feels fair and rewarding for the most part, whilst holding a surprising level of depth in its experimentation, and although trial and error certainly isn't to everyone's taste, you will likely have learned something new from each death, allowing you to try a different method next time. It can, however, eventually feel grating to return to the same initial scramble for berries, logs and the various other amenities each time you die just before you can get back to a point where you had made a decent base camp and crafted the better gadgets, but that ultimately will depend on your level of patience.
A Dream Of Death... Perma-Death
Patience may be something a few people will not have for Don't Starve as a whole. When presented with so little to go on throughout the game and a control system that is quite fiddly. Taking that into account, it's likely that some will only see a simplistic ''collect all the things'', retro-looking title that offers no obvious rhyme or reason for its rewards and punishments, consequently offering no reason to play it for very long either. For those who can tolerate and/or embrace being left to learn via perma-death, its rewards are within reach whilst still retaining challenge and experimentation; for the ones who need to know at least some basic button prompts, crafting and item uses before touching this type of game, it can be almost instantly repellent and I could see many putting Don't Starve back on their digital shelf very swiftly indeed without ever knowing or seeing its potential wonders.
Sadly, the only solution to these issues would be to watch those videos of it being played and read those guides and as I mentioned before, which can eradicate the game's core appeal: discovery. Without it, a lot of the magic and dark charm dies and will no doubt make it feel more like a pedestrian slog than it had when you were aggravated by the game for showing you nothing.
If you do have that patience and understanding then there is more beyond attempting to master the standard game. Surviving long enough can allow you to add more quirky, offbeat characters to tackle the challenges of the game, each with a different set of abilities that help and hinder. Most of these are a genuinely interesting to utilise, though one or two are not quite different enough to bother with. In addition to that shot of variety, you can also tweak the map in a number of ways to suit your needs, be it to make the game tougher for you with an endless winter or giving you extra comfort and time by completely erasing the night's deadly darkness. Also within the game world is the brutal Adventure mode which sets you a series of arduous tasks in order to reach and defeat the slice of pure evil who put you in this particular lane on Hell's highway.
Disappointingly, creation and customisation are limited to what's written into the game, so no fifty foot effigies to Hideo Kojima made from wood and pig-man skin; no building an underground shrine to Depeche Mode; and certainly no replica Death Star with en suite Jacuzzis. It's not a huge loss and probably wouldn't have fit the feel of the game anyway, but it could have added that much more to the game's long term appeal.
A world where large spiders are barely a threat compared to the other dangers around
Generally simple. A few 'survive for so many days to unlock character' trophies, a couple that require you to do very specific tasks to unlock the remaining two characters, and one grind-heavy atrocity that may sour your experience of the entire game if you wish to pursue it in search of the 100% completion.
Brace Yourselves, Summary Is Coming
Beyond the initially daunting prospect of being left in the wild with no hand to hold, Don't Starve blossoms into a richly rewarding title that brings its own personality and morbid humour to the burgeoning survival and rogue-like genres, while also retaining the base-building, item-creating, creature-dodging mantra that makes them so popular. It lacks the level of creativity (as found in games like Minecraft and Terraria) needed to monopolise your attention, and yet it still holds plenty of longevity due to its skewed world that offers up one weird and dangerous obstacle after another. While perhaps not a true test of the PlayStation 4's potential, Don't Starve is easily one of the better games on offer, especially considering the console's somewhat desolate launch lineup.
My Verdict: 8/10 - Superb
Gameplay: 8.5 - Initially unnerving in its lack of obvious instruction, yet holds many rewarding depths within the trial and error exploration method it employs.
Technical: 8 - Beautiful, hand-drawn look, and surprisingly complex in structure, but nothing that comes remotely close to straining the console.
Longevity: 8 - While you can easily put many hours into discovering all Don't Starve has to offer and enjoy it, the replaying from scratch after death that can ultimately turn you off its charms.
Select Critics' Scores
Gamesmaster: 84% - 'A seamless port.'
Edge: 8/10 - 'It's never stronger than in its opening hours, and if it never quite recaptures that first heady whiff of discovery, it at least keeps you on the edge of your seat thanks to its punishing design, the stakes rising in tandem with your achievements.'
IGN: 7.5/10 - 'While I appreciate the world, atmosphere, and mechanics, I can't help but wish that there was a light at the end of Don't Starve's dark and lonely tunnel.'
GamesRadar: 4/5 - 'It may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for a roguelike game filled with charm and challenge, be sure not to miss Don’t Starve.'
OPM UK: 9/10 - 'Learning is half the fun and even the smallest victory makes you feel like you’re winning with a capital FU.'
Like These? Don't Starve Might Be For You
Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
Terraria (PS3, Vita)
Spelunky (PS3, Vita)
Lone Survivor (PS3, Vita)