Saturday, May 23, 2015

What I'm Playing: Don't Starve: Reign of Giants

Today I wanted to share a little bit about my current favorite time sucker. I'm a big fan of Steam and I love me a good indie game, and without a doubt the best indie game I have stumbled upon yet is Don't Starve by Klei Entertainment.

Don't Starve is a wilderness survival game that pits you against hunger, wild creatures, and the forces of nature itself. In its most basic form, the point of the game is simply to survive for as long as possible. It is one of the most unique games I have experienced to date. Survival games are nothing new, there are literally hundreds of them floating around, but this one really sticks out from the rest.

The music, design, and graphics of the game are incredibly unique. The art style is very dark and gothic, which only adds to the nightmarish feeling of the world you're exploring. I wish I had a screen cap of what it looks like when your sanity levels drop too far and the shadow creatures start hanging around (*desperately wants to say that I don't have a screen cap because that never happens to me but that would be a lie- but I have never died by shadow creature so there's that*).

This screen cap comes from the first time I ever survived winter. I was so proud. Died shortly thereafter. Can't remember how but I bet it was stupid.

Another aspect that separates this from other survival games is once you die that's it, game over, no take backs, no second chances; you start over completely with an entirely new map and nothing in your inventory unless your character comes with starting items. It is a bit maddening I'm not going to lie to you. I've spent entire days playing a single map only to die in some absurdly stupid way and few things are more rage making. But at the same time the harsh punishment is really what makes the game what it is. You have to be careful about how you use your time and what risks you take, because one mistake can ruin an otherwise promising game.

The worst part about dying and starting over for me is definitely having to start on a new map. The success of a given game is fairly dependent upon the type of map I get, so mapping out a new one always frustrates me and makes me nervous. Finding a good central location for your base camp is key, but you need resources from every biome, so you can't just hang out in one spot all the time, and as you can see the maps are pretty big. This is not even close to being fully mapped out, I got lucky and found all the import stuff pretty early, and it still takes me about 1 in-game day to walk from one end to the other. 

Players have to survive more than hunger and wild animals; you also have to deal with the basic elements of nature, most notably being the changes in season. The game (usually) starts in Autumn, which is pretty chill. Nothing really crazy happens in Autumn save for the appearance of the giant of the season. All the other seasons, however, bring their own brand of hell. In Winter you freeze to death quickly without a fire or warm clothes and you can no longer grow food. In Summer you overheat to death and all your shit burns down if you're not prepared. And in Spring, which is arguable the mildest of the three, it rains almost constantly which soaks you and your stuff if you don't have the right gear which can lead to- you guessed it- freezing death. Basically you need to spend every season preparing for the one that follows it. Except the game itself does not warn you about any of that, so as a newbie you just feel like you're doing really good and then one it starts snowing. After that you get real addicted to the wikia page real quick.

The picture above is from my current game. It is the longest I have survived so far and every time I log on I'm terrified that this will be the time I ruin everything. The further you get the more infuriating it is when you finally die. I can't imagine what it's like to be the type of person who makes it to day 450 and then loses everything.

I love this game I think mostly because I love strategy games. This game forces you to prioritize your efforts because you only get so many days before the season shifts and all the conditions of the game are changed and you need to decide what is most important for you to have finished before that happens. I also like it because I am better at it than Joe, which just never happens.

There is so much more to this game than what I've talked about/shown here. There is a whole adventure mode that I have yet to try, an entire cave biome I have yet to explore during any of my games, and I won't even get started on all the creatures they've made up to come and kill you. I encourage you guys to check out the game for yourself and see what you find. And I'd love to swap steam names and play the Don't Starve Together (multiplayer version) with anyone too! You can buy the game from Steam here for a mere $19. I highly recommend getting the Reign of Giants DLC, as it is just on a whole different level from the basic Don't Starve- the basic version has considerably fewer biomes and crafting options, and it only includes Autumn and Winter as seasons.

(Oh! And for anyone who might be interested: Don't Starve RoG is coming to the WiiU soon!)

I will leave you with one of the official trailers for Don't Starve, which shows you some actual gameplay from the vanilla version of the game, as well as a tiny peak into the soundtrack, which is pretty fantastic. I hope some of you will check out the game. Let me know if you do! I'd love to play with you sometime, or even just chat about strategy. In the mean time, let me know what some of your current favorites are so I can look into them too!

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