Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Don't Starve: Console Edition Review

  • Game release: April 23, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PS4
Jeremy Jayne on Google+

Hurts so good.

by

A swarm of agitated frogs. Tentacles that sprout from the earth. Poisonous mushrooms. Winter's frosty embrace. Rotten food. Giant cyclops birds. The darkness. Rampaging subterranean bunny things. Packs of hellhounds. Your own slithering hallucinations. Starvation. The laundry list of things that can kill you in the eerie world of Don't Starve is as excessive as it is intriguing. I've succumbed to just about every ill-fated demise imaginable in this brutal but addictive indie survival sim. Despite the frustration that comes from dying and losing everything--a common occurrence in this unforgiving and mysterious realm--it's hard to pull away once the engrossing cycle of exploration, crafting, and survival grabs hold.

A hasty introduction to Don't Starve's vast danger-filled realm leaves little time to consider the particulars of why you've been summoned out into the middle of nowhere by a mysterious demonic gentleman. As Wilson, a scientist-turned-survivalist, you're plunked down into this randomly generated world and left to figure everything out on your own. Outside of some light questing and very minimal story elements, the emphasis is placed on your survival. Rather than being a detriment, the hands-off direction paves the way for the world's grim Tim Burton-esque vibe and entrancing visual design to unfurl, telling its own harrowing tales as you struggle to stave off death.

Come on baby, light my fire.

When it comes to figuring out how to stay alive, there's precious little handholding here. The lack of any tutorial means that every resource, creature, and curiosity you encounter poses a two-pronged question: how can I use this to my advantage, and will messing with it somehow result in getting killed? Considering that many vital resources can be perilous to acquire or have an ill effect if used improperly, each choice you make at any given moment has the potential to usher in your own doom. This trial-and-error nature is a real pressure cooker at moments, since even a simple slipup like overharvesting a scarce material can send you into a downward spiral. The constant tension that builds as important supplies dwindle ratchets up the stressfulness of each dire situation, but it makes each victory, however small, feel like a major achievement. It's an unpredictability that also adds to the thrill of your survival.

The hands-off direction paves the way for the world's grim Tim Burton-esque vibe and entrancing visual design to unfurl.

As you explore, gathering food, material resources, and fuel for a steady campfire is critical. Whether you scavenge berries and vegetables or kill and cook wildlife to consume, keeping a supply of edibles on hand staves off hunger that can sap your meager health if left unchecked. A steady day-night cycle weaves several more layers of complexity into the mix. You can freely explore during the daytime, but nightfall ushers in a new threat: get caught in the dark for more than a few seconds without a light source, and the darkness itself consumes you. Spending too much time out in the dark, even by torchlight, saps your mental health as well. Activities like eating flowers, resting, and tinkering away restore your sanity. Let it deplete too far, however, and the increasingly hallucinatory visual effects that warp the gameworld onscreen spawn imaginary nightmare creatures that attack. Really, you never feel truly safe. Ever. That's not a bad thing though.

Don't Starve smartly entwines all this danger and tension with a well-designed crafting system that provides the real hook for risking life and limb to push onward. The raw materials you harvest on your travels let you cobble together crude implements to help you survive, which is your sole means of gaining ground in your pitched struggle. Mundane materials like wood, flint, grass, and rope can be forged into axes, spears, torches, and more. Your collecting and tinkering thankfully don't end there. With depth and complexity that rival similar survival-centric offerings like Minecraft and Terraria, the expansive crafting system really kicks into high gear once you develop alchemy and science stations to boost your options.

This guy's attitude is as icy as his surroundings.

The jump to the PlayStation 4 brings a welcome speed and fluidity to the tasks of gathering, exploring, and crafting, thanks to thoughtful use of the DualShock 4's control scheme. Simple updates, such as the ability to hold down the action button to automatically harvest whatever is on the ground nearby or to interact with nearby objects, have a big impact. The dual thumbsticks make quick work of juggling inventory items too, and the overall scheme is a comfortable improvement for crafting. If you've played the PC version, it takes some time to adjust to using a controller, but even as an avid PC gamer, I just can't go back to using a mouse and keyboard after playing on the PS4.

Don't Starve's console port remains largely in line with the latest PC version, including all of the updated content like subterranean caves and a new Default Plus mode, which offers a steeper challenge but gives you a bunch of goodies from the get-go to help more-seasoned players motor through the sluggish stretches of a new game. Aside from the lack of mod support, one notable difference is the reduced control for fine-tuning custom games in the console version. There's some wiggle room to toggle the frequency of individual creatures and elements, but it's scaled back here. That's a minor concession, since the core game is well done and is a great fit on the PS4.

The flames of change are roaring.

Even so, some of the underlying problems still linger. Don't Starve's roguelike aspect is utterly grueling in the way it doles out punishment. While there are a few means to prolong your life beyond the grave, most games that end with you dying wipe out your progress completely, leaving you agonizing over the numerous hours you just spent chipping away to gain a foothold in this harsh world. Your experience carries over and goes toward unlocking new characters with special perks to play as, so it's not a total loss, but this doesn't negate the agony of having to grind through from the beginning after getting killed in a later-game run.

If you're up to the challenge and precariousness of exploring this stark landscape bristling with danger, Don't Starve delivers unique charm, exhaustive depth, and brutal punishment. On the PS4, it remains a frustrating, fascinating, and beautifully grim experience that controls nicely and packs the same absorbing punch as the original.

The Good
Great mix of crafting, exploration, and survival
Distinct art style and atmosphere set a cool vibe
Massive open world to explore
The Bad
Grindy repetition grates post-death
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Don't Starve

About the Author

/ Staff

Having already submitted to the pleasant but punishing discipline of Don't Starve on the PC, Nathan Meunier knew what he was getting into with this updated PS4 port. After many more hours spent dying, grinding, slaying, and exploring, he knows the meaning of roguelike pain. And he's ready for more.

Discussion

80 comments
Thathanka
Thathanka

One of the best games ever made.

blackace
blackace

I only have two questions. 1) Does the game ever END? 2) Can you save at any point in the game? 


If the answers are NO to either of these questions, I probably won't even waste my time.

DreamsofGreen
DreamsofGreen

Dark Souls... Dark Souls... Dark Souls...

FAP... FAP... FAP...

lofltrumps37
lofltrumps37

This game is as addictive, or maybe even more addictive than Resogun was when i first downloaded it. I got hooked straight away and couldn't get off of it. If only there was an online mode, that would be epic.

eddieham13
eddieham13

Not very newbie friendly. recommend new people to read the wiki. As people are confusing not understanding the game with the game not being good.

The cosmetic items at the bottom stop you from going insane. explore first then build a central base. Worm Holes are not hostile creatures they are a form of quick travel. Use them.

Pick 12 flowers and build the flower hat. Your sanity will then increase during the day time.

Birds will drop seeds. Grab them so you "don't starve". (do cook them).

carrots are amaze. grab them all.


If you find a stick with an eye on it, grab it. There is a creature that follows you around that is also a chest. He follows the eye stick not you. You can keep him somewhere by dropping the stick. like your base. Craft a backpack. Walking sticks are good.

LickTheEnvelope
LickTheEnvelope

Really good time-sink game that i'm still feeling my way through.  Not quite as good as something like Terraria (imo) but it's different enough that it warrants a good chunk of time to anyone that likes roguelike games with some crafting mechanics. 

Kevin Speir
Kevin Speir

Anyway... let's get back to the game which really isn't very good anyway.

Jacob Baldwin
Jacob Baldwin

So that's why 13+millon copies of minecraft has been sold on pc? stop hating you are making the gaming community look awful

Andrew Waldmann
Andrew Waldmann

See, you want to compare all consoles against all PC's, but children can't afford PC's/their parents won't buy them for them since they're so expensive, not to mention any adult who can afford a decent PC is likely to buy consoles for the exclusives, so really, the PC group is one of the most important demographics, so a lot of people care about PC.

Jacob Baldwin
Jacob Baldwin

Nope valve conferred that it's now 72 million.And the original statement was 'because nobody cares about pc' so i don't know why you were going on about other consoles....i was only giving hard facts that there is a decent marketshare...

Tucker Martin
Tucker Martin

Well guess what Jacob? If you're going to include Steam and WOW players (even though steam is "only" 65 million), then you're also going to have to include the PS3 and Wii users… So we're looking at about 260million console users for the 7th generation alone… Your argument falls flat when used on a level playing field. And even then, there's no way that any news site can discuss every game to hit PC. Either because there are so many or because they aren't worth discussing.

wdma
wdma

Its the game that stopped me from playing Killzone SF, AC4, NFS Rivals, GT6 and Tearaway pretty much the only thing i play these days fucking addicted to it 

Jacob Baldwin
Jacob Baldwin

75 milllon regular steam users +6millon Wow players=higher than the xbox360's units ever sold....

John Martins
John Martins

Controlling the character directly heightens immersion, building in straight lines is harder without a mouse. That's all you need to know.

Daniel Courtney
Daniel Courtney

I start freaking out when it gets dark and I have no logs to fuel my fire, OH GOD OH GOD

Steven Simmons
Steven Simmons

Game is really fun but it was just as good on PC.

Tony Rivera
Tony Rivera

I finally played it on ps4 just because it was free and I can honestly say, if I spent more than a penny on it when it was all the rage on steam I would have asked for a refund immediately.

Frederick Quatman
Frederick Quatman

PS4's killer app right here! Other than the fact most people were playing it over a year ago....

Noah Moser
Noah Moser

I thought the same thing too bradly. i downloaded it on my ps4 not to know what to expect of it and suddenly i got addicted

Jacob Baldwin
Jacob Baldwin

Why did you guys push acknolwedgement of the game ONLY when it came out on ps4? you're ment to be journalist from a across the board not when 'it's on a platform you like'

Zevvion
Zevvion

Definitely one of the better games of 2013. I really enjoyed playing it, even when it was just alpha. Already have a lot of hours into the PS4 version. 


Don't pass this game up.

megakick
megakick

This game looks fun but not exactly the type of game that is going to make me buy a new console. PS4 and XBOX ONE need more great games.

breathnac
breathnac

The Dark/Demons Souls of Sandbox games

Vinnvn
Vinnvn

Not the best game in the world but I hooked like its the best.

I give it a 8.

ryogapower
ryogapower

7? This game is amazing in every way. its the only game that gives me a similar sense of satisfaction from overcoming the odds i get in Dark Souls. Anyone who says this game is simple and boring has no idea how wrong they are and how deep the rabbit hole goes on this one, theres lots to learn about this games system of rules and a real knack to knowing when to venture boldy forward and when to recoup and strategise. Theres an entire underground world and even a campaign mode hidden in there if you can find it, a game within a game (inception?) and it also pulls it off with style and great humour. a stonewall 9.0 from me.

samus_my_life
samus_my_life

i really enjoyed playing it 


8.5 out 10 :) much satsfied though 

psuedospike
psuedospike

Pluses - Awesome game

Minuses - Too roguelike,,,


What a dumb review.

Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

Fun game and fun to figure out, but the game feels more like a time waster than something to put dedication into. I don't get as much of a sense of exploration and progression from this. It's fun for fun's sake. Which is nice, but probably won't keep me involved the way a lot of other, similar games do.

skillz191
skillz191

@blackace Yes the game has an "End" only in Adventure mode and yes you can save your game at any time but if you die it erases your save (as death is permanent). On PC there are ways to cheat death via Steam Mods, backing up save files and renewing them upon death or task manager force exit when die on PS4 though don't know.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@uglypinkmoose 

Doubtful. I get the impression that loneliness is one of the deliberate themes of the game.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

@Gelugon_baat Yeah I get that..... but Minecraft was very mysterious and eerie which was something you lost in mutiplayer.... Yet multiplayer is what most people spend all their time doing because it's so fun.  Huge hour eating games like this are just hard for me to fit in my gaming schedule without eating hundreds of hours. if it had multiplayer I could limit myself to when my friends play with me but single player would just devour my soul..... 

Zevvion
Zevvion

@Leboyo56 @psuedospike @Morphine_OD The point is that you can reach the same stage you were at in 20% of the time or less than you put in before because you know more stuff about the game. 


Also, it's hardly grindy to unlock the characters. You just need to survive a total of 80 days. You can easily survive 80 days with a single character.

psuedospike
psuedospike

@Gelugon_baat @Leboyo56 You two must be unfamiliar with roguelike games, you live and you learn...then you die, lose everything and cry.  This is the frustration and appeal of the genre.  If you review a game based on its genre this one is stellar!

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Leboyo56

I would add too that increasing familiarity does not help much. The game can very well screw the player by starting him/her somewhere that is just not the usual baby zone.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@psuedospike @Morphine_OD Most roguelikes give you advantages for your next play through the longer you survive. Don't Starve only gives you XP to unlock characters that have some perks, but unlocking them all is very grindy.

Don't Starve More Info

First Release on Apr 23, 2013
  • Macintosh
  • PC
  • + 2 more
  • PlayStation 4
  • Unix/Linux
Don't Starve is an uncompromising wilderness survival game full of science and magic.
7.8
Average User RatingOut of 211 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Don't Starve
Developed by:
Klei Entertainment
Published by:
Klei Entertainment
Genres:
Open-World, Action, Roguelike, Adventure, 3D
Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Everyone 10+
All Platforms