REVIEW: Don’t Starve: Console Edition
Don't Starve is a tedious journey about unfulfilling survival
A “free” game is sometimes not worth the time invested needed to achieve the maximum gratification or a final pay-off. This is the case I found with Don’t Starve: Console Edition for the PlayStation 4, which is this month’s free game for PlayStation plus members. The draw to Don’t Starve is that it promises an artful take on Minecraft’s formula. What I found was an artful slog minus the logical thinking and fun discovery that Minecraft or Terreria delivers. This is largely due to the lack of the building feature in both Minecraft and Terreria. All that you can make is listed items in a menu located on your HUD and none of the items are too exciting.
First it must be stated that this game transfers well to the PlayStation 4. The controls are tight, but navigating the menus can be a little slow. This can lead to unearned deaths if you are not planning in advance. Luckily, this game does allow for some breathing room to prepare your next move.
The first time you play Don’t Starve: Console Edition you will have the sense of wonder and discovery. The 10th time you play Don’t Starve: Console Edition you will not want to play the game again. This is because of the drastic cost of dying and the repetitive nature of the initial schlep in order to get where the game becomes fun. As soon as you are dropped into this sparse, Tim Burton-esque world your task of surviving begins.
You first must collect items found in the world to make better items. Creating items is done by harvesting hay, rocks, flowers, sticks, etc. to then make axes, pick-axe, etc to then harvest better materials which then makes better items that can buff items or the player. With the better items you journey through the unknown land, which just means you are traversing similar looking land blocks that are randomly glued together. The formula of crafting is a well-known grind that some people will get a kick from. Unfortunately, the roguelike, death structure is soul crushing and the first hour or so is boring. When you die you lose everything. EVERYTHING! The early scavenging lacks the discovery that is the main draw in this game. That being said, the loss of everything is the inspiration to survive. Unfortunately, the loss of everything is also the inspiration to not play again.
There is an adventure mode in the game, which takes you along a story. To unlock the mode you must find Maxwell’s door. The story is irrelevant and it is more about trying to survive in unique settings. This is an innovative twist on the crafting/survival formula. The quest adds a purpose to the tedious survival. Even with the set mission I found the management of my characters meters to be the least enjoyable experience. To find something unique in the world and have to then hobble a campfire together and wait overnight to experience something new was a frustrating experience. I found most of my enjoyment with this game within this mode despite the necessity to survive..
Survival in the initial area is also an option. I personally do not like the pacing of survival. It is slow and the payoff is little. The game is a solitary journey. A large reason that I enjoy similar survival games is the ability to play with friends. This can make even the rudimentary tasks a joy. The only way to relieve the pain of gathering hay is to look at the grey world filled with imaginative beasts and the sometimes-witty humor. I cannot find a reason to dump dozens of hours into this game.
Don’t Starve is not a game I would play extensively. This may be a game that I return to for a few tries then put it down. Overall, I will return to this game despite its flaws, probably due to the lack of PlayStation 4 games and it’s price of “free.” If I did not have plus I probably would not pay full price for the console version of the game. Give the game a try if you have PlayStation plus. I would pass on the console version if you do not have plus and offer the suggestion to try the game on PC if you can grab it at a low price-point.
TL:DR The game is worth a try, especially if you have plus. I would not pay full price, unless you are really hurting for PS4 content and literally have nothing else to play.
Check out my video of my early experience with the game
Credit for feature image: gmbox.ru
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I am currently a MA student at Saint Josephs University studying experimental psych. In my undergrad at Colorado State University I received my B.S. in mind, brain, and behavior. In my spare time I have helped create, write, direct, and edit multiple small independent films achieving local awards. I also studied film critique, war journalism, and global media by taking several classes. For my hobby, I play video games. I have done everything from be a tournament ice fisherman to plan a 300,00 budget concert. Please love and you will be loved.