If you happen to be a PlayStation 4 owner who has yet to play Klei Entertainment’s excellent Don’t Starve, you are in for a real treat this week. PlayStation Plus members in particular should just go ahead and download it blindly since it’s available for free as a recent addition to the service.
The less you know about this weird, cruel, compelling game, the better. As a result, I’ve kept this little impressions piece about the new console port free of spoilers.
Don’t Starve (Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4)
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Released: April 23, 2013 (Linux, Mac, PC) / January 7, 2014 (PS4)
MSRP: $14.99 (Free with PlayStation Plus)
Klei Entertainment built up the Steam version of Don’t Starve over the course of last year with continual updates. Like most other work-in-progress games available for purchase, I waited to give it a proper look until what’s there was, in my mind, mostly well put together. Eventually, the word-of-mouth got to be too strong for me and I had no choice but to play what has gone on to become my favorite of the studio’s titles. PlayStation 4 owners are lucky in that the game they’re being introduced to is up to date with what’s available on Steam.
As described in Fraser Brown’s original review for Destructoid, Don’t Starve is a brutally difficult game of survival that revolves around acquiring resources and figuring out how best to use them to last another day. I’m quite bad at it, but that doesn’t seem to matter one bit. It’s entirely possible to have a thrilling time despite continuously failing to reach your own personal goals, whatever those might be. Often times, it’s just “Make it to sunrise.”
The major difference on PS4 is the move away from mouse and keyboard controls. While that input method is more efficient and will be preferable for many players as a result, I quite like playing Don’t Starve on a gamepad as well.
Pressing L2 brings up your crafting menu, in real time, while pressing R2 pauses the action, zooms in on your inventory, and allows you to make adjustments at your own pace. Besides navigating through your inventory using the right analog stick, everything is about what you’d expect: face buttons perform primary actions, the d-pad allows you to use items in various ways, and the Touch Pad serves as an ideal map button.
My only real complaint is that the item names and images can be difficult to make out, even when you enlarge the inventory. Otherwise, Don’t Starve looks and plays wonderfully on PS4. Not every feature has made the transition to consoles so don’t go in expecting, say, mod support.
One omission I was sad to discover relates to how when first starting a run, you’re able to customize the individual elements that’ll be procedurally generated. The feature is still here, mostly. On PC, you could increase, decrease, or turn off elements — such as Hounds, which I recommend new players do — but that first option, making it so more Pigmen (or whatever) spawn in your customized world, doesn’t seem to exist in this version.
With a PlayStation Plus subscription, you should absolutely play this. You may not ultimately care for the game as it’s rather clearly not intended to be enjoyed by everyone, but it represents some of the best in its genre and should be experienced nonetheless.
Even without a Plus membership, however, Don’t Starve is worth playing — whether that be here on PS4 or on Steam. You can’t go wrong either way. Alternatively, there’s been chatter about a possible PS Vita version and that sure would hit the spot, wouldn’t it?