“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us… We can never have enough of nature.” Thoreau
My expedition begins abruptly as I awake, startled, on the floor of a forest. “Say pal, you don’t look so good” a mysterious tuxedo-ed man says, “you better find something to eat before night comes,” with that he disappeared into a husk of smoke. Following his brief instructions I journey into the wilderness in search of food.
I know that the wild can be brutal to unprepared travelers, so I begin to gather necessary supplies. Being unsure what things I will need though, I grab everything I see. Twigs, tufts of grass, berries, flowers, some random bits of flint, rocks, hoping that these will help to sustain me. I eat a few of the berries I have collected, but quickly realize that berries alone won’t support an enterprising adventurer.
Working my way deeper into the forest, I reach the shore of a large body of water. Nested along the edge, several rabbits scurry into their burrows as I approach. Figuring these would make a more fulfilling meal, I prepare myself to catch one, but they are too quick to capture bare handed. I try using my newly built axe, but still no luck. My instinct tells me it’s getting late, I need to make a fire
I chop down a few trees and collect logs. Finding a secluded patch of land I make a small fire, ready to rest through the night. Through the darkness I hear unfamiliar creatures in the distance and continue to add logs to the fire to assuage my fears. As dawn approaches I feel my stomach churning, both with anxiety and hunger.
With the morning sun I return to the rabbit holes and build a few traps in the hope to catch one. I grow impatient waiting to capture them though, and decide to explore my surroundings more. To the south I find a wind swept plain, dotted with dozens more rabbit holes, perhaps these can supply a reliable source of food. Further still I happen upon a grazing herd of beefalo, but figure that attacking them without preparation would be suicide.
The pangs in my stomach are becoming unbearable, so I return to my camp to find two rabbits have happened into my traps. With trepidation I cook them over the campfire and devour them whole. Surprisingly though, I’m still quite hungry. Apparently in this phantom world my hunger is much greater than normal.
With my cravings still undeterred, I begin assembling a series of rabbit traps to place along the southern plain. I make six or so and place them by the holes.
Several days pass, I persist on a diet of rabbit meat, roasted seeds, and berries. This is enough to just barely sustain my insatiable appetite, but now I am finding that my mental capacity is being affected by my desolate, lonely surroundings. I begin to experience hallucinations, apparitions in the form of ghastly creatures roaming the wasteland. It was already too late when I found out later, after consulting the journals of fellow adventurers, the simple tactics I needed to control my sanity.
In my delirium I don’t realize my food supply is running dangerously low. The supply of rabbits is disappearing and I have developed an unhealthy obsession with the idea of destroying a nest of spiders to the west of my camp. Midway through the fight, slashing madly at my foes, starvation overcomes me and I collapse onto the forest.
I died, a lot, and had to consult the games thorough wiki to help guide me through. But, for fans of similar survival games though, this is just part of the process.
Like a spectral version of Walden, Don’t Starve places players in an otherworldly wilderness, disillusioned with no instructions and little hope. It’s not the first game of it’s type, it lies somewhere on the spectrum of Harvest Moon, Demon’s Soul’s, Terraria (and yes Minecraft), but although Klei Entertainment’s newest survival game may share some ingredients with other games, it’s unique visuals and sense of urgency make for a surprisingly tense, and novel, experience.