Don’t Starve begins immediately within a hostile Tim Burton-esque world, dropping the usual hand-holding tutorial in favour of letting the player figure everything out for themselves.
This is a survival adventure game which requires the player to exploit the randomly generated world for resources to craft into ever more complicated items to aid in survival. Grass must be picked to make rope, which is then used to make a fence etc.
The progression of the crafting is very satisfying and encourages the player to explore every inch of the map and to start again when you (inevitably) die. Once you do die though you must begin again from scratch with none of the previously crafted items and only the knowledge of how to recreate them, which can be rather frustrating.
The player must manage health, hunger and sanity meters to survive and you must avoid the dark at all costs. This gives the whole experience a tense race-against-time atmosphere that ramps up the difficulty as the player’s situation improves. As the player crafts better items, the items they need to progress will require ingredients that are more difficult to obtain (generally this means they are guarded by an even more vicious enemy).
While the standard survival mode is challenge enough, hidden within the world is an adventure mode that the player can choose to undertake where they must survive in 5 ever more challenging worlds. There is also an XP system which rewards repeat play with new characters with their own unique strengths.
The game’s perma-death does make the experience much more difficult and time consuming than some may be willing to commit to a game with as little story or plot as Don’t Starve, but for those that persevere, the rewards are numerous and great fun to discover.