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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Don't Starve PC Review - 9/10

Too often I hear of survival games. Games that claim to have genuine survival elements but will ditch them at the first sign of convenience or necessity. There hasn't been a real survival game in... well ever if I can think of it. However, this gets as close as I can think of. Down to eating items for both health and a slowly decreasing hunger meter.

The Good:
I've made it clear that I don't like amazing graphics all the time and I mean it. It doesn't add much to the game, other than a lower frame rate. What I find really nice is when an art style of a game is reflective upon the game itself. Rather than making everything look as pretty as possible or realistic as possible, this game goes for a more cartoony look which is good considering the game's content and story. The sprites all move like I would imagine them to the funny or the realistic by cartoon standards. The animals also move atomically correct. Again it's one of those small things that I love in games.
There's a nice crafting system. Starting off, you can craft a pickax or an ax. An ax will allow you to cut down trees, however, you won't be able to cut into the boulders that sometimes litter the place. Whatever way you take, it works. You can still get to other craftings and get the ax and pickax at the same time but it really forces you to think before crafting. Kind of like Minecraft except to a more realistic degree. When you find a valuable item in the game like these striated rocks which drop gold which is extremely useful, you really want to hunker down and be around there as much as possible till you can get what you need.
Night is a unique mechanic (which everyone uses). The screen will go completely black until you craft some kind of torch or camp fire. I haven't seen what happens if you don't get in light soon enough but I don't want to find out either.
The enemies are kind of tough... and random. I still don't know why a frog attacked me, nor why his friends attacked me, then once I left they stopped and never attacked again as well as how were they so good at attacking me. Early on you won't find much to fight against. Last time I was killed because I ignored the gold and went for an egg in a nest only to have it's long legged mother attack me. Once you're dead, you'll get xp points based on how far you got. So far this only goes towards new characters but it's nice that you get something for dying all the same. Makes the game feel less like a waste of time.
You know how Dead Island was more of a weapon repair simulator than a zombie killing game? In that game it didn't work. In this game, it does. Every time I whack a tree or rock with the appropriate tool, it degrades. Making me think again about what's important versus randomly smacking around. You unfortunately can't repair them (as far as I know) but you can easily make them again.
What never appealed to me about Minecraft or Terraria was how you had to have the correct crafting table at all times with you to create the useful items in the world (Terraria especially). When a pickax is gone, I don't want to have to go back to my campsite and make another. Once you've made some tool, you can make it again at any time. True, the higher leveled ones need a special thing to create them first off. But once you do, you can craft it at any time you need to, which makes sense.
There is a fair bit of comedy in this. Not to say like side busting but kinda funny little lines here and there. It's not a comedy game but I found myself chuckling a few times which is always nice.
There's a bit of common sense here. Like I said I was killed by a bird creature for taking it's egg, which makes sense. Also, I can burn things with fire instead of just having fire. Too often games shy away from real life things and it's nice to see that being put back once and a while. Fire burns. Deal with it.
The story is about a scientist apparently. As such, you can do sciency things like building stuff to help you craft. Before I died, I had a lightning rod, weather measure-er and something to help me craft not to mention a permanent fireplace and the beginnings of a wall. I really love progression in games, no matter how small.

The Bad:
Your view is something of a bane. True it fits into the survival setting well by being limited and you can zoom in and out a bit, but at times I find it bad. Sure it's not terrible but I'd like to see everything.
There's not much of a tutorial... in fact I don't think there is. The game is pretty easy to pick up but some things I'd rather be told than learn. True it goes back into the immersion of the game but sometimes I just want fun first and immersion second.
Enemies are pretty tough. Not Dark/Demons Souls tough but tough nonetheless. It's not bad but then again I'd rather have a pleasant experience than a terrifying one. Again, a personal note as some people may find this to be a plus whereas I don't really.
You can never really stay in one place. A lot of times, the things you need don't respawn. In Minecraft terms, that's manageable. In this, it's a bit less considering I don't want to leave all my cool stuff behind just to make more cool stuff.

This is a pretty solid game and it's not a bad buy for about 14 bucks. Pick it up if it's your sort of thing. It personally isn't for me, but I found some stuff that I liked all the same.

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