'Don't Starve' - PS4 Review

Friday, 10 January 2014 11:57 AM Written by 






Klei Entertainment, the creative minds behind “Mark of the Ninja,” went in a completely different direction with their follow-up game “Don’t Starve.” Rather than a stealth-based action/side scroller, “Don’t Starve” is a learn-as-you-go survival experience. The game launched on Steam last year, but is now available for the PS4.

The game will likely be a different experience for each player because of its lack of tutorial. It doesn’t focus on a predetermined set of rules, but rather puts the emphasis on discover. Your character is dropped into a randomly generated wilderness. A man appears and says, “It’s getting dark. You should build a fire.” He then vanishes, and you’re on your own from there. There’s no pop-up text that explains the button layout, or menu of objectives. The name is the game is “Don’t Starve,” so finding some food should be at the top of your to-do list.

But food is just a sliver of the survival requirements. There are three meters to keep an eye on: hunger, health, and sanity. Naturally, eating replenishes the hunger meter, and often fills the health meter. Health drains if you’re attacked, or if your hunger meter is depleted. Keeping your sanity is just as important as keeping a full stomach. Doing things like crafting clothes, picking flowers, or performing other activities that help keep a sense of humanity will fill the sanity meter. If your character loses sanity, he or she will start to hallucinate, or hear random eerie sounds that eventually push you into the abyss of madness.

The forth thing to keep an eye on is the day clock. Explore the world and gather food and supplies in the day time, and hunker down around a campfire at night. When the sun rises at the beginning of a new day, it’s time to get back to exploring. Each randomly generated map has a ton to see. Your character will most likely die before you see it all.

“Don’t Starve” has an MMO-style HUD, but one that is made easily manageable on this console port. Inventory is housed at the bottom of the screen, and the crafting menu can be found on the left. The right analog stick controls the inventory in real-time for quick and easy access. It’s clear that the HUD was originally designed with PC in mind, but it still works well with a DualShock 4 controller in hand.

The main goal is to keep your three meters filled and survive as long as possible. Survive by gathering food and supplies like twigs and rocks. Twigs and rocks can be crafted into an ax to chop down trees. Chopping down trees gives you wood for crafting new tools and building fires. New tools can be used to discover new items. The chain reaction of discovery and crafting goes on and on, and there’s no shortage of objects to craft. You can craft different weapons for hunting or defending yourself against the world’s monsters, new clothes, unique inventions, housing, or even magic objects like a staff.

Try to discover as much as you can until you die. You’ll earn experience based on the length if your life. Experience unlocks new characters, each with their own unique abilities.

Different players will likely have wildly different experiences with “Don’t Starve.” Some will find it to be repetitive, which could eventually venture into the territory of boring. Others will enjoy the sense of discovery, and the challenge of surviving longer than the previous life. The game is so unique that it deserves a try even if it’s just to see which of these two camps you belong to, especially now since it’s free for PlayStation Plus members.


“Don’t Starve’s” gameplay is unique, but it’s very much a throwback to trial-and-error gaming. It’s reminiscent of games that employed a baptism-by-fire approach. In turn, these aspects make the game a social experience despite being strictly single player. Half of its fun is talking to other people who have played the game to share ideas. It’s refreshing to see a game that yields social interaction from its gameplay without forcing social media integration.

Because of this, “Don’t Starve” makes a strong argument in favor of being a PS+ subscriber. It’s a great choice for a free game on the young PS4 platform. It’s even worth the $15, if you’re not into the subscription model.


9 out of 10



Unique trial-and-error gameplay
Different experience for every player
Free on PS+


Could be repetitive for some

 Platform   PC, PS4 
 Price  Free (PS+ in January '14), $15
 Release Date    PC: 4/23/13, PS4: 1/7/14

 T for Teen










Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.