(Review) Don’t Starve Together

Man there are a lot of survival games! Don’t Starve was one of the originals that brought the genre more to my attention. (I’m neglecting city-specific building/survival games for this.) That said, while I did purchase the game… I never played it since I basically watched a friend play the junk out of it. I know, I know… that’s borderline blasphemy to some, but I trust you’ll be able to get over it. How could they improve Don’t Starve though? Well, it turns out it took them adding multiplayer and… some time to pass and I’m finally jumping on that boat! Is it interesting? Does not starving with your friends prove to be a selling formula? Let me break that down for you.

I did love all of the differences in all the characters and the humor that the developers put into the game.

Like most games in the genre, the majority of the time spent in the beginning of your journey is filled with confusion and death. Usually it’s your own death, but you could be watching your friends die first (hopefully you didn’t kill them). I’ve starved. I’ve gone crazy. I’ve also died to the darkness after figuring out how to build an ax (which I swear I would have built a fire, really!). I’ve lived long enough to say that “I’m doing rather well” only to get ravaged by dogs soon after. There is always something in Don’t Starve Together that is more than willing to kill you. I’m really needing to figure out how to kill things quicker, that battle spear just isn’t it doing it for me. Even when I’ve got teammates, it’s hard to manage resources and not either all die by starving or doing something stupid.

My wife may be a spider creature, but she watched over me while I tried to stave off insanity by sleeping through the night. Isn’t that sweet?

There are so many options for characters to pick from. Much like other games where you have several different choices, they all have their pluses and minuses. Don’t Starve Together gives it a bit more flair though. You could be a spider creature who could befriend other spiders, but get attacked by the usually friendly pig people (Webber). You could be a lumber jack that has two sanity meters and when one goes down because you haven’t eaten enough wood (yeh, really) you turn into a giant beaver and have to eat a few trees to satisfy the cravings (Woodie… kind of like “foodie” maybe?). You could be a librarian who can’t sleep (Wickerbottom) or a robot that doesn’t do so well in the rain (WX-78) because as we all know robots are awesome. It’s all give and take and I think I’m siding with either the viking girl Wigfrid or the basic beard-growing Wilson. Both are generic enough that you don’t have to worry too much about some crazy side effect, although Wigfrid doesn’t eat anything except meat. I can, however, relate to that and she hits harder. I’ll take either!

So I feel I may have been able to take these guys, but my armor broke, they aggro other Poop-a-lo’s and a meteor storm was dropping down on my head. The odds were stacked against me.

It’s a little strange for me because it doesn’t seem to have much of a story at all. In the basic Don’t Starve you have been trapped on an island and need to escape. In Don’t Starve Together, your only objective seems to be to not die. I guess that works. I think it would work more for me had I played the original a lot more because then it would be like I was playing in a sandbox version of the original and not just thrown into something without much direction. It is fun, but I believe I may have hampered the experience for myself a little in this area because I didn’t come into Don’t Starve Together just wanting more of a liberated version of the original.

I didn’t build any walls on this world yet, but this is the longest I’ve lived. I still feel I need them though. If only they had turrets that would make the walls more worth it.

Everything gets a bit easier as you progress though. You’ll figure out how to create certain items faster or what to look for first. I know that I want an alchemy machine rather than the basic science machine because of all the options right off the bat. I’ll usually make that one of my first priorities. Second would be food, but it’s a really close second. I only put that second now because I feel pretty confident in my ability to do so. If I’m unable to find food… I’ve probably not searched far and wide enough yet, or have landed on a lame seed. I’m still having a bit of a hard time with gardening. I’ve been able to gather specific crops and bring them to my base of operations, but after putting the poop on them to fertilize them, they don’t seem to grown. I’m fairly sure I’m doing something wrong or missing a step, but I could also be impatient and a week or so in-game isn’t long enough. Although, I feel it should be.

Starving and nasty creatures aren’t the only thing to worry about. Shadowy hands will come up and steal your fire… stupid jerks.

I tend to stay away from the PVP side of the game as it’s usually my wife and/or a close buddy of mine playing together. That basically translates into having to deal with multiple characters and their unique traits all at the same time because who wants their friends to die? We all end up using all the flowers we can find and then have to take turns on watch when others nap to get some much-needed sanity back. We’ve been able to fight off the dogs twice, but I think the farthest we’ve gotten was that. The third wave of dogs all came at once, mostly at night and we were both just a little far away from camp. When we got to camp, eight attacked my wife and I at once and it didn’t end well. One of these days, we’ll take on and fight a boss… one of these days. Until then, we’ll all just have to settle with not dying.

When you think you’ve found everything that you could that wants to kill you, you’ll find something larger and meaner.
Don’t Starve Together is a great addition to the Don’t Starve game. A small issue is that it lacks a story or reason to survive. I guess that leaves room to say that the story is that you’re stranded in a strange land and you don’t want to die, but following Don’t Starve itself, it feels kind of strange. The multiplayer is great and adds a level of difficulty in resource management that seems very well implemented and realistic as far as a game about surviving and killing giant tree monsters can be. The science is fun and while the game seems to have a difficulty curve, a few rounds in and you’ll get the basics down if you’re paying attention. I love the art style and ambiance and while it’s fun to play, it doesn’t entertain me for long periods of time. It feels like it leans more on survival than fun for me. If either of those interest you and you’ve got some good buds to play with, Don’t Starve Together is worth considering.

Further Reading on Don’t Starve Together: FacebookOfficial Page / SteamTwitter

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