Don't Starve: PlayStation 4 Experts Official Review

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Don't Starve: Console Edition is part of the second round of free PlayStation 4 games available to PlayStation Plus users, replacing the popular Contrast in the Instant Game Collection. Regularly retailing for $14.99, Don't Starve is unlike any other game on the PlayStation 4, having very slight similarities with Minecraft but overall, being it's own experience. Is Don't Starve another worthy indie game on the PlayStation 4? Read below to find out!

The Premise
The premise behind Don't Starve is simple: survive, thrive and don't starve. It's harder than it sounds, as Don't Starve thrusts you into the game without any tutorial whatsoever. Awaking in a mysterious land, you're left with only your wits about you in a strange, cold world. As Wilson (with other characters being unlocked as you survive longer and longer and perform certain requirements), you must maintain three separate meters: hunger, health and sanity. You do this by exploring the world, collecting items, combining those items into other useful items and keeping all three meters as high as you can. Every item you find in Don't Starve has a purpose, from rocks and twigs to logs and feathers. The crafting system is extremely robust and frankly, a bit overwhelming when you first start playing.

However, part of the fun in Don't Starve is figuring the game out for yourself. The game shows you what ingredients you need to make any given item, but doesn't tell you what those ingredients are, leading to a sense of exploration (a recurring theme in the game). What is that gold item needed to make the Science Machine? Where does that item come from? Part of the fun is figuring all this out. As you progress, you'll be able to craft more and more items, opening the game up immensely. It's this sense of exploration in the crafting system that has people comparing the game to Minecraft.

Don't Starve does feature combat, but combat is a simple affair: figuring out your enemy's patterns and counter-attacking at the right moment. However, in most cases once you die, that's it: you're starting the game over with all of your progress lost. Even with the simplistic combat, you'll always be on the edge of your seat during every encounter especially since healing items are scarce in the early stages of the game.

Don't StarveDon't Starve is a huge game, with many areas to explore and an unlockable Adventure Mode in addition to the standard Survival Mode. Chances are good that most players will boot the game, die early on and be left confused about how to proceed. Don't Starve isn't one of those games that you'll figure out and beat in a few hours; no, it will take you hours and hours before you discover every nuance the game has to offer. Its slow, methodical grinding gameplay isn't for everyone: some gamers will find the game boring. But if you're a fan of this style of gameplay, Don't Starve is bliss.

The PlayStation 4 Advantage
Don't Starve's minimalist approach to graphics is beautiful, but won't push the PlayStation 4 to its limits, so if you're expecting a game to showcase your PS4 this isn't it. However, Don't Starve adapts the DualShock 4 perfectly, with the game's many menus smartly mapped to the triggers. The game feels like it was designed from the ground up for the DualShock 4, and you'd never know the game was a PC port if the title didn't give it away.

The one flaw the port has is that menu text is difficult to read on 32” and under HDTVs, due to the menus being on the small side and then the menu text being even smaller than that. It's not a gamebreaker, but it is slightly annoying having to scoot closer to the television just to read a menu.

The PlayStation 4 version of Don't Starve features all the content of the PC version with the addition of trophies, as you would expect with any PS4 game. Unfortunately, Don't Starve features an extremely boring set of trophies, all revolving around the unlocking of characters, a far cry from the creative trophies of games like Resogun. It's always disappointing when trophies are little more than an afterthought to a developer and with Don't Starve, this was definitely the case.

Final Verdict
Don't Starve is not only worth a free download for PlayStation Plus users but is worth the $14.99 it costs for non-Plus members. The game isn't for everyone; as mentioned earlier, there is going to be a subset of players that find the game boring, tedious, and a grind. But if you like games such as Monster Hunter, Dark Souls or Minecraft, where progress to your goals come slowly and death means something, you're going to love Don't Starve. Another strong addition to the PlayStation 4 library!

Final Score: 8/10

Game Category: Action / Adventure and Indie

July 2014 Update

Klei Entertainment has confirmed that the Don't Starve expansion, Reign of Giants, is coming to the PS4 on July 23rd. The expansion will cost $4.99 and include a 10% discount for PlayStation Plus owners. It adds a brand new world, new enemies in the form of giants and two new playable characters.

Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 1/9/2014

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