Refraining from Starving in Don’t Starve

I have recently been hooked on an indie title I recently discovered called “Don’t Starve.” In Don’t Starve, the player is tasked with surviving as long as possible using only the resources provided by the world around the main character, Wilson (though a number of other characters can be unlocked, my favorite of these being Woody). Don’t Starve provides a top-down, two dimensional view of its charming world. Charming, though an odd word to describe a survival game, sums up Don’t Starve’s art style perfectly. The game looks like something out of a story book, with mythical creatures like jackalopes to boot.

Instead of reviewing the game in question, I would encourage potential players to go try it for themselves. Before attempt to refrain from starving, however, take a look at a list of tips and tricks I have discovered in my own gameplay.

1. Build Your Tools

A tip like this may seem self explanatory in a survival game, but Don’t Starve puts players in a situation with little to no instructions. Instead of floundering about the game world in a confused haze, grab some flint (the little rock chips lying about) and throw together an axe and pick. These tools take five flint in total to create, so grab some rocks and move on to step two.

2. Collect Everything

…and I mean everything. Almost every easily accessible item has some use in Don’t Starve, even butterflies (which serve as a healing item). Though it should be apparent at this point, the goal of the game is to keep from starving. Gathering seeds from birds, birchnuts from trees, and morsels from small animals will help keep you from entering the dangerous state of intense hunger.

ProTip for gathering food: moles are attracted to minerals. If you followed step one, you should have a surplus of flint on hand. Drop some by a burrowing mole and they will pop out of the ground to chow down. Whack the mole with an axe and enjoy a nice, tasty morsel.

3. Get a Fire Going

Darkness will literally kill you. Flat-out. If you stand in darkness too long, Wilson will simply drop dead. To keep this from happening, use sticks and grass to produce a fire. Or, you can go with my personal preference and throw together a torch. Fires allow you to cook morsels (which is strongly advised, as eating raw meat is a bad plan), whereas a torch allows you to keep exploring into the night. The choice is yours.

4. Build a Science Machine

After obtaining a pick and a decent amount of food, go hunting for boulders. Dark rocks with streaks down the sides contain valuable gold. You’ll need a piece or two to build a science machine, which is vital for prolonged survival. Once you have enough ingredients for the science machine, it is time to move on to step five.

5. Set Up Camp

Build a permanent fire out of rocks and throw down your science machine to make a place called home. The best areas to settle down are near a beefalo herd (these guys produce dung, used to fertilize plants and build farms) or in a birch biome. Refrain from camping out near a swamp or a pine forest. You will struggle to find resources later on, which will shorten your survival time considerably.

6. Build a Garland

If you’ve picked up the Reign of Giants DLC, you should notice Wilson going a bit crazy. This is due to the sanity system, which can be a real pain. You can avert inevitable insanity by crafting a garland from flower petals. Picking flowers also increases sanity, so gathering petals will assist in keeping Wilson sane as well.

7. Stay Dry

Also in Reign of Giants is a rain system. Rain will randomly fall (more regularly in Spring), making everything quite wet. If Wilson gets too wet, his sanity will drop, food in his pockets will go bad faster, and he will sometimes drop his tools during use. Clearly, wetness is something to be avoided at all costs. During rain, you can hide out under trees to decrease the volume of water Wilson takes on. A parasol also helps in this task. Once the rain has passed, stand by fire to dry off quickly.

8. Find Chester

Chester is an adorable monster who will follow Wilson around. Besides being a welcome companion, Chester serves as a mobile chest. You can get Chester by finding the eye bone, which is randomly placed in every world. There is no specific place the eye bone will spawn, so it may take some exploring to find the item. The time invested in obtaining Chester is worth it. Just look at his smiling monster face.

ProTip for Chester: Avoid taking Chester into combat. Enemies will often chase after Chester. Though he has a good deal of HP, Chester can die. Seeing as he is generally irreplaceable, I advise leaving Chester at home when venturing into battle.

9. Take it Slow

Don’t Starve has no end goal, meaning there is no way to win the game. Therefore, you should take it slow. Gather what you need to survive before setting up camp, and be sure to settle down in an appropriate location. From there, take the game at a leisurely pace. Taking things slow will lead to a longer lifespan for Wilson.

10. Don’t Starve

Once you have completed all of the tasks listed above, you should have a decent base camp. Wilson cannot survive into the Winter on just seeds and birchnuts, however, so you will need to acquire a system for food gathering. Setting up jackalope traps is a good option if you are in the proper season. Farming is another great way to produce a consistent harvest of food. My personal favorite way of gathering food is through the use of bird traps. These can be set up right next to your camp and harvested quite regularly. Finally, crafting a crock pot and icebox will help you to acquire higher level food while keeping it fresh into the Winter.

Don’t Starve is a fantastic survival game, and one I have invested countless hours in. I hope these tips add something to your own experience in the game. Pick up Don’t Starve on Steam or Xbox Live, and let me know in the comments below if any of these tips helped in your gameplay.

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