mon 21/10/2019

Don't Starve | reviews, news & interviews

Don't Starve

Don't Starve

Potentially a feast, but you may prefer a nibble

'Don't Starve': Maxwell has some useful advice for you

Don't Starve is a game about survival. Deposited in a strange land rendered in a playfully creepy style like an Edward Gorey cartoon come to life, you - or rather the intrepid Gentleman Scientist, Wilson - must gather resources, craft tools and find food while avoiding the various nasties that lurk in the dark. “Don't Starve” is both the title and your most immediate task but there is more than just a rumbling tum out to do you in - poisons, werepigs, spiders, tentacles and worse all want a piece of you. The game's real bottom line is a much more broad “don't die”.

Don't Starve - Minecraft-style survival and craftingIf you read the above and thought Minecraft then, yes, that is pretty much the model here. Unlike Minecraft's entirely open world however, Don't Starve is much more cut down and two dimensional (in both senses.) This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Crafting in Minecraft is a question of memorising recipes and the correct pattern in which to arrange components. In Don't Starve, you just gather resources and the appropriate icon will light up on your toolbar to let you know when you can build something new. You will even get to build some simple structures, but they are more like tokens than actual buildings you can hop about in. Not as involved, but considering the stresses weighing upon your poor avatar, actually quite a relief.

The day/night cycle is a crucial part of the game. Night is when all the Really Bad Stuff happens and without a carefully crafted and tended fire you are pretty much guaranteed to bite the big one. With practice, and a lot of death by trial and error, you may get the hang of catching rabbits or find enough carrots to keep you full for more than five minutes, but then you need to worry about all the half-real/half-hallucinatory creatures who come calling when your sanity meter starts to run low..

Don't Starve - Minecraft-style crafting and survivalAll of this treads a very fine line between fun and tedium and it is only the addition of Adventure Mode - unlocked by finding a portal within the game - that saves Don't Starve from being an exercise in pure grinding. In the land of Adventure, you are made to perform increasingly difficult tasks by a demon, Maxwell, and a plot of sorts emerges. As campaign modes go it feels a bit tacked on but it does give an extra sense of purpose. 

That is not to say that Don't Starve isn't fun to play. There is a lot to discover and for the most part the developers have found the right balance between frustration and reward with unlockable characters and game-altering perks. One thing that you may find more grating the further you progress is that death is permanent. Unlike the similar situation in the real world, in Don't Starve you get to start over - but with all your hard-won accomplishments in dust and with a heavy and growing sense of resignation about the grind to come. The further you get in the game, the more bitter that dish will taste.

The day/night cycle is a crucial part of the game. Night is when all the Really Bad Stuff happens


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.