Don’t Starve: Giant Edition

9.2 Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10
Design: 9/10
Features: 9/10

Great Design | Customizable Experience | Massive Content

Repetitive Gameplay | Steep Learning Curve

Game Info

GAME NAME: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition

DEVELOPER(S): Klei Entertainment

PUBLISHER(S): Klei Entertainment

PLATFORM(S): Wii U

GENRE(S): Survival, Adventure

RELEASE DATE(S): May 28, 2015

 

In today’s fast-food filled world, where microwavable treats are only a button push away, not starving seems like a given. But what would you do if you were suddenly transported to a vast wilderness, filled with nothing but berries, carrots and the occasional Pig-Man? Don’t Starve: Giant Edition seeks to answer that question in a giant way.

What is it?

Don’t Starve: Giant Edition is, at its core, a survival game. You are thrown into a barren wilderness with little more than your wits and are left to forage for food and supplies. The single task set before you is to survive. You’ll quickly discover you have three meters: Health, Sanity, and (as the title implies) Hunger. If any of the three meters becomes empty, you’re sure to meet a grizzly end.

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Your time adventuring will be split between day, dusk and night. During daylight hours, you’re free to explore as you please, but once darkness falls you’ll need a fire to stay alive. This can be accomplished by collecting a few supplies, such as sticks and rocks, and combining them. The entire game follows this formula; combining found objects to create new, better objects.

You may have noticed the “Giant Edition” within the title. As the name implies, this game is actually the core Don’t Starve experience that was offered on other consoles earlier, with the addition of the various downloadable content that was released alongside it. There are a variety of features included in this game that were not present in the vanilla game, which provides a plethora of new ways to experience the world of Don’t Starve.

How is it?

Don’t Starve: Giant Edition is a very well-built game. The game has a macabre tone that can also be eerily funny, and that tone is only strengthened by the unique art-style and soundtrack. The writing is also very clever, as each character has a unique collection of descriptions for the items they examine during their adventure. Speaking of which, there are eleven characters available in the Giant Edition, each with their own unique traits and personalities. My favorite thus far is Willow, a young lady with an… interest in fire. She even carries a lighter, which always provides the player with an accessible light source.

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The game’s worlds are randomly generated upon loading a new game, so no two journeys will be exactly the same. You can also choose to customize your environment, altering parameters like how often it rains or how large the world will be. All of these choices let you have the experience you want to have without the need for those outdated “Easy, Normal or Hard mode” set-ups most games still use.

Providing the player with a variety of worlds to explore is a very smart decision on the part of the developers, since you will be dying a lot. There’s even a page to read about all your prior adventures, including a snippet on how you died.

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Make no mistake, this is not an unfair game. When you die, it will be because you were so busy trying to build a sustainable base-camp that you forgot to eat. Or you’ll realize that your fire is dying out and you accidentally used your last log to build an axe.

Don’t Starve’s real charm comes from its interesting blend of science and magic. Once you’re experienced enough to last a few days without dying, you’ll start inventing machines to help you escape this dark realm. These inventions will also pave the way for you to create new tools, both realistic and not, that ultimately serve your greater purpose of survival. Some of these tools are truly hilarious, and there’s a certain indescribable joy you experience when you build it for the first time. That’s not to say that the gameplay can’t get repetitive; collecting rocks and twigs quickly becomes a hassle when you’re trying to build more advanced tools. But surviving that extra day, finding that one new area and maybe unlocking a new character when you finally kick the bucket will quickly win out and keep you going forward.

The Recommendation

Don’t Starve: Giant Edition is a really great game. It may not be the first survival game built upon a collect-and-build mechanic, but it’s certainly one of the more charming ones. For many Wii U users, Giant Edition may be their first experience with the world of Don’t Starve, and I couldn’t think of a better way to be introduced to the game. While it may not hold the attention of the more impulsive 5-minute-gamers out there, those looking to spend a few hours getting lost in the game’s massive and ever-changing world will find a truly unique experience.

Summary

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Author: Lukas Termini View all posts by
An amateur game designer and lover of all things Nintendo, Lukas studied digital arts and 3d animation at the University of Tampa before graduating in 2013. If he isn't playing a video game, you can bet he's probably thinking about it.