Review: Don’t Starve Shipwrecked

DSSW_early_access

Image from the Don’t Starve Wiki, copyright Klei Entertainment/Capybara Games

Developer: Klei Entertainment, Capybara Games
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Release Date: 1 Dec, 2015

I guess Don’t Starve Shipwrecked isn’t a complete game, it needs the original Don’t Starve as it’s downloadable content and counts as a game option when you start up a new world rather than being a separate game. The original costs £10.99 and is available for both Mac and Windows, though I’m not sure on the difference aside from the mouse on Apple and Windows and plugging a normal mouse into the Mac makes it the same. The Shipwrecked DLC is £3.99 on Steam and is also available for both versions so if you don’t have the original to get this would cost £15.98. At the moment Don’t Starve Shipwrecked is still in early access but I haven’t found anything wrong with it, there’s just more to come.

Don’t Starve in general is a game I really like, Shipwrecked just expands on it, sticking with the same style so some of this review counts for both. I haven’t played the original in a while though, the last time I played the underground section was fairly new so I can’t compare it to the current Don’t Starve. If you just want a list of new things then skip to the bottom, I’ll also link to the few let’s plays I’ve been watching as I think they’re probably the best way to get a feel of the game without playing it. I’m not sure that it’s possible to have spoilers for a game like Don’t Starve but I’m trying to remain spoiler free, there are a few tips at the bottom though. If you consider images of the game play spoilers then don’t read any more.

 

shipreckedmenu

Home menu, images taken from the game

 

The basic idea behind the Don’t Starve original and the DLCs is to survive and, as the name says, don’t starve. It’s a fairly standard idea if you’ve played survival games but the characters and art style as well as the mobs in this game make it stand out to me, especially with the Shipwrecked DLC. There is a goal in collecting all of the ‘things’ and making something to get into another world which is also there in this DLC, the Things are apparently different but I haven’t found any yet. The art style reminds me of Tim Burton animations, there’s a steampunk feel to me with the different contraptions you can craft. The whole thing is given the look of a 2D worlds though you can rotate it from all angles the trees and items look the same as if you’ve just turned the flat image around. As the movement controls are WASD and this rotate is E I have found myself accidentally using it and it’s a bit confusing when you do if you have nothing that memorable to use as an ‘up’ so I’ve opened the map to check a few times. The other controls are right/left click and space if you’re near something makes your character automatically interact with it.

As with any survival game you have to collect things around the world, which is randomly generated and is different each time. There are certain things you collect to start with, sticks and flint make tools, an axe and pick axe then lead to wood and stones which can make fire, it builds up like most survival games. If you’ve played the game already you know how important the fire is, I forgot how dark it gets in my first play of this DLC and ended up eaten by the things in the dark. The science and alchemy machines are fairly early things you have to craft and have the look of something built from the items you find around, rather than something too shiny and new. The later items take quite a bit of collecting and rely on components from things that are trying to eat you so you have to be careful to build up enough resources for armour and a base before you start on them so there is something to build to, it’s not all accessible straight away as it might look when you first play. Also the fact that when you die it’s over adds some difficulty, though you can find some touch stones that have pigs’ heads on sticks that acts as a point to be reincarnated to if you activate them.

shipwrecked

Day/Night cycle along with the health, sanity and hunger levels in the top right corner

 

In Don’t Starve alongside the normal health and hunger indicators you get a sanity one as well, this is very important to keep high most of the time though you may want it low to be able to do certain things. I know this was a thing in the original game but not sure about on Shipwrecked, I think you need to have low sanity levels to get nightmare fuel. All three of these can be affected by different foods and a crockpot is a good thing to get as early as possible as you craft food that has bigger boosts than its components. To increase sanity prototyping, creating the first of any craft recipe, helps a lot alongside picking flowers (or wearing them) and building a sandcastle in this DLC which I like.

shipwrecked2

Map of islands, it shows some of the different biomes and areas available that I had found

 

In the normal game the land is one big island, the Shipwrecked DLC takes place on a group of islands which you have to travel between on a boat. This boat can start out as a raft made with logs or bamboo and vines, a couple of the new resources available in the DLC, and then you can make a rowboat, armoured boat or cargo ship and these can also be customised with additional things like sails, lamps and fishing nets along with others. Travelling between the islands is essential for a longer game as they each hold different things and as it’s randomly generated you don’t know what you’ll find. You can dig up bushes and different plant types and return them to your island base, as long as you have manure for some as they need it to grow, so you can end up with everything you need as basic resources all near your base camp which is useful in some of the seasons. One thing to be careful of is the tide, it does go in every night and can lead to waterlogged items if you build too close to it. It does, however, refresh things such as seashells and flint on the shore so it’s useful too, just don’t get too wet as this is a meter that appears on the screen too and can cause problems, I think it’s more an issue in colder seasons. This wetness goes up a lot in the hurricane season, and I would guess the monsoon one, unless you have a shelter and it can also be affected by hitting a wave at the wrong angle in the sea in your boat.

shipwreckedsea

The row boat with palm sail and boat torch in the evening

Talking about the seasons, so far I haven’t survived past the hurricane season, but I think my current game might, so I can’t really comment on some of the later ones. However it does have different weather, different day and night lengths and different craftable items that help you such as a chiminea that stops your fire from blowing out in the hurricanes. I like these seasons and the ways they affect the environment, they add something different to the game and mean you have a bit of a time limit on certain things as you need the resources before the season you need the item. Having to craft multiple fires or torches one after the other to survive the night isn’t fun and you quickly run out of resources that way so it’s best to be prepared. The seasons in this DLC are new, with a fairly normal season to get you started, hurricane season, monsoon season and a hot dry summer that apparently has magma falling from the sky, not looking forward to that one!

I think the main difference between this and the original, besides the island element, is the range of foods available. It may be that since I played a lot more animals have been added but I have found that the seafood in Shipwrecked is a lot easier to catch than the rabbits in the original, which have been replaced with crabs that bury themselves in the sand if you chase them enough. Having mussels and wobsters that you can farm adds more meaty things to use in recipes if you have the crock pot and things such as seaweed and coconuts both add to the range as well as making food easier to find, I don’t remember having my larder chests as stocked in the original as I have with this one.

 

shipwreckedmonkeys

So many Prime Apes, I think there are 19 in this picture and I couldn’t use any tools when I was on the island because of the lag

 

One of the new mobs in this DLC is the prime ape, which spawn in huts and can have quite a group of these huts together so they can grow to large groups fairly quickly. In my current game there’s an island with over ten huts in it, I had a group of at least fifteen apes following me around which lagged out my computer quite a bit as I’m sure there were more off the screen as well as them being so annoying as they pick up anything that drops. I ended up having to set fire to some of the huts, I still only go to the island when I absolutely have to as there’s so many of them. Apparently there’s something you can craft to distract them, I’m definitely going to be making this so I can mine the gold on the island without them stealing it. Another new mob, also not hostile unless you anger it, is the water beefallo, pretty much the same thing as the beefallo in the original game but living in the new mangrove swamps biome.

There are quite a few new hostile mobs that are more shipwreck themed than the original game and replace some of the originals. Spiders, evil bees and the hounds are still in there but I haven’t come across anything else from the original that’s trying to eat me unless you count the pig men or bees when angered, I have seen the giant one eyed bird in a playthrough though so that’s still there somewhere. The most common ones I’ve found are the snakes, which appear out of vine bushes when you hack them with the machete (a new tool for bamboo and vines) or drop out of the jungle trees when you cut them down, though they also appear at night and roam around. There are two kinds, the normal red ones which are fairly easy to kill and the poisonous yellow ones which will poison you and, unless you have anti venom, will kill you no matter how much you eat or heal yourself as it’s indefinite. There’s also some fish like animals with eyes on top of their head in the swampy areas called flups, I haven’t killed one yet but have been chased by them and they’re easy to get away from and get bored quickly. There’s also fishermerms which I haven’t encountered yet and they seem to come under both passive and hostile grouping depending where you read about them so not sure what they do and some sea mobs like the swordfish, floaty boaty knight (I like the look of this one), the white whale, stink ray (a stingray/skunk hybrid that flies) and sea hound (pretty much a water hound that travels in packs). One seasonal hostile mob that’s got poison like the snake is the poisonous mosquito, I haven’t got to that season yet so I can’t comment on how common or annoying they are. There’s also a boss mob in shipwrecked, the Palm Treeguard which is pretty much the same as the original Treeguards but in palm tree form.

The new biomes in this DLC are interesting and I’ve found a lot of good resources seem to come from these, especially the magma field as digging up the piles of magma gives quite a bit of rock and flint as well as gold from the gold flecked ones, though you have to be prepared to run at the last dig in case it explodes so it’s best to get it down to nearly the end, pick up anything that you’ve mined and either run with that or be careful for the final bit as it can blow some of the resources into the air and you can lose them. The mangrove swamp is the home to the water beefallo, sometimes anyway, and you need to use your boat to get around but there’s lots of wood and grass in it so it’s an easy way to get those resources. Coral reefs may not strictly be a biome but they have coral, not surprisingly, and I’ve often found seaweed and shoals of fish in them which may be useful.

 

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The new character and some of the updates in the Hang Ten update. Image taken from the Klei Entertainment forums (link at the end of post)

There is also a new character who comes with a surfboard. I haven’t unlocked her yet so no idea what she’s like but I’m looking forward to it. When you start up the game and choose characters there’s also a few of the characters blacked out and unknown so there are going to be more added to the Shipwrecked DLC later.

Overall I definitely recommend this game if you like survival games. The original is good but I did find that after a while I ended up going away from it, it’s one of those games you can dip in and out of if you want and every time you play it’s different but I found other games I wanted to play more as it can get a bit repetitive when just finding certain resources. I think that this DLC does remove some of that, you will still be searching for the resources but you can hop on the boat to another island nearby that has the things your island is missing. On the original it took ages to find certain things and so far, aside from water beefallo which I have only encountered once which is annoying as they’re the best source of manure, you can find pretty much everything you need without having to run miles away from your base. I do like the island theme more, maybe I’m just drawn to these themed games anyway, and the addition of the seafood does improve on the original to me. If you like survival games then I’d give this one a try, especially if you like the art style and original characters that are a bit different than any I’ve played in other games.

I know everyone has different things they look for in a game but to me any game, no matter what genre, if it’s a game where I can think ‘I’ll play for half an hour’ and then it turns into an hour and a half without me noticing because I’m so involved is a good game. This game has ended up being one of them, even if it’s just this DLC I’d say that getting the whole game at less than £15 is worth it, I’ve paid more for games that I’ve played less than this and it’s only been out less than two months.

I thought I’d do a list if a few tips, though they’re maybe obvious I found these things were helpful after I played for a bit, some also work for the original game too.

– Make a crockpot as fast as possible
– Keep crabs alive if possible, have a chest for them, you can feed them and keep them fresh
– Do not leave traps for crabs for too long if something is caught, they’ll starve and you end up with remains
– When catching crabs a quick way to do it is to chase them around, wait for them to hide underground and drop the trap over their pile of sand. When you walk away they pop up and are caught instantly
– Setting fire to the forest where prime apes are is a good way of getting rid of them without having them aggro you. Also if you’re quick enough and beat their friends to it you can pick up anything they drop
– Get the row boat as soon as possible and add a sail and boat torch, then you travel quickly and have a light for the night if you need it
– Surf on the waves, if you’re travelling the right way you get a great boost

Here’s a list of new things, it’s taken from the Don’t Starve wiki which can be found here. If you want some tips on surviving certain things or to find out more about the game it’s a good place to start, though it can be slightly spoilerish if it’s even possible to spoil a game like Don’t Starve. These aren’t the craftable things, just the things/areas that are already spawned.

Neutral Animals: Blue Whale • Bottlenosed Ballphin • Jellyfish • Water Beefalo • Prime Ape • Wildbore
Passive Animals: Crab • Dogfish • Packim Baggims • Parrot • Parrot Pirate • Seagull • Toucan • Wobster • Fishermerm
Hostile creatures: Floaty Boaty Knight • Flup • Poison Mosquito • Snake • Poison Snake • Spider Warrior (Venomous) • Sea Hound • Stink Ray • Swordfish • White Whale
Boss Monsters: Palm Treeguard
Inanimate objects: Coral Reef • Electric Isosceles (like the wormhole, it takes you somewhere else on the map) • Limpet Rock • Magma Pile (Gold) • Steamer Trunk • Sandy Pile • Volcano
Mobs and mob dens: Crab Den • Fishermerm’s Hut • Merm Hut • Prime Ape Hut • Shoal • Wildbore House • Wobster Den • Yaarctopus
Resources: Bamboo Patch • Brainy Sprout • Jungle Tree • Mangrove Tree • Palm Tree • Regular Jungle Tree • Sweet Potato • Viney Bush
Things: Fishbone • Grassy Thing • Ring Thing • Screw Thing • Wooden Platform Thing • Wooden Potato Thing

For a list of everything in the DLC including the content that’s in the original this link is a good one to use.

And the list of let’s plays I’ve been watching. I know a lot of people have played this game and there’s probably hundreds of people on YouTube that have made a series on this but these are the four I’ve been watching as a series. They’re all different, some are further on in the game than others but I’ll either link to the playlist or the first episode so you can follow it from the beginning.

Weird Wizard Dave
Sips
Minty Minute
Skye Storm The longest of the let’s plays, has over 100 episodes (and there’s a playlist with Walani the new girl too)

All images included in this post are copyright Klei Entertainment and Capybara Games and are screen grabs from my game unless another source is given and are being used for review purposes.

The Klei Entertainment forums image came from here

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