What am I thinking? Of course you’ve played Don’t Starve. Some days it feels like the ratio of “people who have played Don’t Starve at least once” to “people on planet Earth” is somehow greater than one. So you can imagine my shock when I found out that no one has written a HYP on Don’t Starve before now.
Games this accessible are never this challenging. And vice versa. That’s the secret behind Don’t Starve’s success in my eyes. Of all the survival games I’ve played, Don’t Starve is by far the easiest for a newcomer to just start playing. You drop into a world with nothing but the clothes on your back and the potential to grow a magnificent beard, and all of a sudden you’re running around picking up carrots and bits of flint from the ground, and oh, what’s this? Suddenly you’ve crafted an axe, and you’re chopping down a tree. And now you’ve got the materials required to craft more tools, and then a campfire to survive through your first night.
And yet, I’d wager the vast majority of games started in Don’t Starve end quite quickly. Maybe it is indeed starvation that gets you; or perhaps you’re caught away from a light source at night; or perhaps it’s that first wave of Hounds that ends your journey. Don’t Starve is as punishing as it is intuitive. It’s the game that sent Klei Entertainment soaring to the top of my list of developers whose games I will always try on day one. The style is truly one of a kind, the world is gigantic and filled with content and dozens of things that will inevitably kill you at some point, and the whole experience of trying to survive in this brutal, quirky and beautiful game is so incredibly satisfying.
If I were to put together a list of go-to games for people who don’t really play games, then Don’t Starve would be both a no-brainer and by far the most challenging game in the entire list. I may enjoy Oxygen Not Included even more, but I’d have to say that Don’t Starve is Klei’s crown jewel.