Feb 072014

The Art Of Survival and why I now have a love/hate relationship with Klei Entertainment.

It’s day 3 of your survival. I’ve died two times and now I’m angry playing the game. I’m ANGRY playing a game because I refuse to give up until I find something cool or unlock the story. I have never angry played a game and I’m sitting here playing out of spite, hatred, and pure loathful determination.

This is one of my new favorite games.

I’m talking about Don’t Starve by Klei Entertainment. If you’ve played this game you probably know what I’m talking about.

If you haven’t then you’ll come to find: Don’t Starve is a survival/sandbox/resource building game. Your first character Max is plopped into the middle of the woods with a mysterious man telling you need to survive.

All you know is that you have a stomach meter gauging how hungry you are, a brain meter telling you how sane you are, and a clock showing you how much time you have until night. Then you play.

Through trial, error and perhaps the occasional internet forum check you begin to figure how to play the game and what the goals are.

This is where my love/hate relationship begins.

Oh Klei Entertainment, where do I begin…

I love this world you’ve created where you can start building resources and slowly build your way to making tools which can lead to more advanced tools and gadgets. You can find a portal into a challenge world where you can use your skills to fight and survive against unique and interesting challenges. There you can find a rich and interesting store line.

…a world where if you die you start the whole damn thing over. Whole. Damn. Thing. And that can happen within minutes or hours of playing a game.

I love how much that raises the stakes.

I love your Tim Burton-eske artwork. I love its bleakness and how it fits into this world of monsters and survival…

… a bleakness that is also a constant visual reminder of the fact that no matter how many days I survive there may be no point to this in the end.

I love that you’ve created a wonderful search and discover game. There is no hand holding. There is only trial and error. The goals are simplistic at first enough to get you started then progress to more complex goals to make things interesting. It’s a wonderful formula…

…that is addicting as hell.

I love that you’ve created the perfect game for patient gamers. If you are patient you are rewarded with a bounty of cool new gadgets which you’ve carefully and painstakingly gathered and learned for. You will unlock cool new characters with unique tools, skill sets, and quirks. You will have found a portal filled with unique resources monsters and challenges to keep things fresh…

…but if you are not patient, you will give up on the game all together. Or you will become like me and find yourself angry playing the game, even after dying for the 5th time and going through all the same entry level tasks because-even though you are sick and tired of chopping down trees-you just know there is so much more to see.

There is supposedly a really interesting and poignant ending to see. And you will do all you can to see it, god damn it. Even if it kills you.

And it will kill you.

And Klei Entertainment, you know all this you sick bastards. On your website you even say the game offers Uncompromising Survival: No instructions. No help. No hand holding. Start with nothing and craft, hunt, research, farm and fight to survive.

And if you don’t believe me, just take a look:

Don’t Starve drives me mad like few games ever do

Don’t Starve is a survival sim that gets under your skin.

Don’t Starve is a brutish, complex affair

Don’t Starve: No hand-holding and no hints

But with relentless punishing comes reward. Don’t starve is a game I can pick up at any time. It’s timeless in its simplicity. But in addition to that developers are committed to creating new maps, new challenges and new characters for the game making it an ever-evolving experience. The game is amazing in its complexity and I’m excited to keep playing it.

Either way, it was just reported that this game has passed the one million player mark so they must be doing something right.

My final verdict: Check it out. Love it or hate it it’s worth a play through. Now I have to go. Night is coming and I both have to wait for this game to come out on vita and collect more logs to make a fire.

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