My latest addiction, between classes and homework, has been a little gem of a game called Don’t Starve. It’s a sandbox survival game set in a weird, alternate world that mirrors our own in some ways, but is quite bizarre in others.
As you can probably guess from the title, the primary objective is to simply not starve, though there are plenty of other hazards in the world (monsters, winter, more monsters, burning up in a forest fire you started, and so on). I believe there’s also an end-game objective to confront the villain of the game (Maxwell) and escape bizzaro-world…but I’m not 100% sure because I haven’t gotten anywhere close to that yet.
At first glance it appears to be silly and cartoony, something for kids. But there’s actually a considerable amount of depth to the game, allowing for a wide variety of survival strategies. The game also features a fairly intricate crafting system where you use the items you gather to make things that help you survive. Better weapons and armor, advanced structures for more food options, farms, science-y objects and even magic. Oh, and perma-death. It’s a game where you’ll die a lot, but hopefully learn a little more each game so you get a bit further along.
When you start, you wake up in the strange land with nothing but the clothes on your back. However, by the end of the first day you should be able to gather enough food to get by for a few days, as well as materials to make axes and picks, and wood for a campfire. And you’ll need that campfire…you don’t want to be wandering around at night without a light. After a few days of scouting the world you should find a good location to build a base camp and get to work building the items and gathering the resources you’ll need to survive.
You basically have three stats: Hunger, Sanity and Health. When Hunger reaches 0 you start losing Health, and when Health reaches 0, you’re dead. Night gradually reduces your Sanity, as does eating certain foods, traveling through ‘worm tunnels’ and confronting the terrors of the dark. As you lose Sanity, you start to see hallucinations and the world takes on a darker aspect. If your Sanity goes low enough, you can actually fight and kill your hallucinations (and gather a resources from them, as well). I assume when Sanity reaches 0, you lose, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. There are a variety of ways to replenish your stats, though the primary means is by eating more complex foods (using an item you craft, the Crockpot, to make them).
You’ve got about 20 days of Summer to gather resources, and then Winter sets in. Food becomes much more scarce during Winter, and the days are shorter, so you have less time to gather and you lose more Sanity during the longer nights. Farms stop working, so you have to rely mainly on food you stocked up during Summer and whatever you can hunt during Winter. Oh, and keep an eye on that food…it’s perishable, so make sure you eat it before it spoils (eating spoiled food causes you to loose Sanity, too).
Though you’ll probably die frequently, the longer you last the more XP you get, allowing you to unlock new characters with different abilities.
As for myself, so far I haven’t starved to death. Mostly I’ve been killed by various monsters, and I froze to death in one game. I have yet to make it through a full Winter (my record is 30 days), but I’m still having fun experimenting and trying different things.
If you’re looking for a light computer game with some depth and a lot of re-playability, you may want to consider giving Don’t Starve a try. It’s available on Steam for about $15, though if you’re patient it’ll probably go on sale sooner-or-later. Cheers!
P.S.: Here’s the Wiki, to give you an idea of how much there is to the game.
Update: MY current record is 90+ days. I’m in the middle of my third winter and have established a pretty good system for surviving. Time to move on to bigger challenges, like exploring the underworld.