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nanashi avatar 4:31 AM on 02.01.2014  (server time)
I Can't Help But Starve *Scratches Head*

If my last article was a viable indicator, I like indie games and I like challenge. To jump off of that, there is yet another challenging indie game that requires some digging to really succeed at which has fallen into my backlog of games. I am talking of course about the very steam punk, minecraftian Don't Starve.

In Don't Starve, the player is tasked with surviving in the wilderness, which means scavenging for ingredients, crafting mechanisms and facing the elements. The game has a very interesting aspect that sympathizes with environmentalism. So for instance, chopping down too many trees will come back to get you, in the form of a tree monster. Very unique and agreeable, however in my opinion it is flawed with the very nature of the game. The thing I noticed when these hurting the environment karma things were plotting up is that it directly goes against my first instinct in a game where you get to scavenge things: I like to hoard materials. A lot. Minecraft is forbidden from my gaming life because it will eat most of my time by way of collecting 100 of everything. And this is what I try and would like to do in Don't Starve but the game has in place mechanics that dissuade you from doing so. And there's the first challenge.

Only Gather What You Need.

Unlike with Spelunky I am not writing this article post-victory, I have yet to beat Don't Starve and it doesn't look like this game is beatable [for me]. I used a similar approach to Spelunky: Check the game's wikia intensively, look up tutorials, Let's Plays and Commentaries on YouTube and practicing as much as I can. But...

The Game Is Way Harder Than Spelunky, IMO.

It feels like there's a lot of time in between when you start a fresh playthrough and have an important encounter; finding one of the secrets to advance to the next world, facing off with a new enemy type, finding new materials, and so on. This is because you have to spend a lot of time surviving to get to those key moments; you have to get materials for tools, secure some food, as night is approaching build a fire, survive the night, eat, etc. And your character moves quite slow when off of a path or road which makes the basic surviving/gathering stuff even more tedious in addition to being a burden for map exploration which is necessary to advance in the adventure mode. I clocked myself with the basic surviving tasks and on average it could take 3 hours before something interesting (key moments stuff) happens.

The Wikia Didn't Help..

I learned about how to get to Adventure mode but it's too much of a pain in the ass to just survive that adventure mode doesn't seem likely to find. With Spelunky the wikia gave me all the answers and from there it was just a matter of getting the skills to keep pushing further and further towards King Yama. The instructions basically give you a road map of a successful play through; it urges the player to reassess their priorities. But with Don't Starve the instructions don't make the game any easier. Getting to Adventure mode is essentially: a door is randomly located. Well coming back to the amount of time it takes to get to key encounters, all the knowledge from wikis, tutorials, etc. is essentially wasted brain capacity unless you can find the, for a lack of a better term, thing in-game and practice it, get a feel for it. When playing Spelunky for example if I didn't know that you can rob shopkeepers, but then the wiki taught me I would need to be able to apply this information by actually finding shopkeepers and robbing them. Thankfully, shopkeepers are very common so it would be a breeze finding one, robbing him for the first time and over the course of however long develop the skill of robbing them more efficiently or what have you.

Not In Don't Starve

Because of the amount of time spent ("laboring" is the word that really fits here imo) dedicating to chopping trees, gathering materials, finding food, you encounter the critical functions that you need to get used to a lot less. For example, I have put probably 30 hours into this game and only encountered the chess piece monsters, which are your best place to find gears straight off, a handful of times. Why? Because spiders keep eating me before I can get to the chess guys.

No but seriously, it takes too long to get yourself set up and something evidently happens before I can reach the key moment, the next step in advancing to the next area.

But I am hopeful and love challenge so I will keep trying to beat Don't Starve because it is a fun game as well as a wonderful experience, even if it can get tedious at times and is very unforgiving.

But in the mean time, talk to me, leave a comment with your general strategy. That would be awesome. I still don't have much of a strategy and don't really know the best stuff to find from the start but it would be helpful to compare how we play.

And if there's anything else I should know, please comment that too. Helpful people are rad!

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