Don't Starve: Giant Edition (Xbox One) Review

By Albert Lichi 07.09.2015

Review for Don

Ever since the surging popularity of Minecraft, the thirst for open-ended, procedurally generated survival games seems unquenchable. While the low-fi 3D geometry may be fine for some, Klei Entertainment sought to create something a little more aesthetically pleasing for the budding genre with Don't Starve. The stylish, memorable art, evoking memories of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton, makes it hard not to be amazed by the game's setting and cast of quirky characters, and it's now delivered on Xbox One as Don't Starve: Giant Edition, complete with an optimised interface for controllers, as well as the Reign of Giants DLC that PC users previously received, making an already difficult game even harder. Could Don't Starve: Giant Edition be the ultimate survival game on the online marketplace? Get comfy inside a beard as Cubed3 delves deeper.

Don't Starve: Giant Edition does indeed live up to its "giant" qualifier. The absurd challenge and skin-of-the-teeth survival gameplay on display within is palpable, since the sense of friction is always at odds with any of the unlockable characters, of which there are more than ten. Each personality is unique and comes with its own quirks and challenges, whether it be the lumberjack, who can transform into a "Werebeaver" during a full moon, or a pyromaniac with the benefit of starting off with a lighter in hand. It's a diverse cast with a lot to work with in terms of gameplay, and each one has been carefully balanced to make for unique experiences in every playthrough. The starting character is a regular gentleman scientist - who, by the way, can grow an impressive beard for surviving the brutal winter. He may have humble beginnings, but over time will eventually learn to craft axes, or even protective suits to endure the hostile wilderness.

Despite the varied cast with their unique stats, the core game always focuses on survival. Of course, some characters are only there for added challenge, but the gameplay is essentially the same for all of them: mainly crafting from resources found on the field, or hunting. It is best compared to cult PlayStation game Tail of the Sun (albeit more competent), since both games focus on accumulating items, being mindful of predators, and watching out for the wellbeing of the character's stats. Since so much of this game relies on a randomly generated map and item placement, it is expected that there will be a long grind; such is the main appeal of a game like this. It can be genuinely satisfying when a certain "groove" is hit and a steady momentum is gained, as assets and resources pile up, only to be devoured as the winter decimates everything.

Screenshot for Don't Starve: Giant Edition on Xbox One

Don't Starve was designed first and foremost as a PC game, and the UI makes this painfully obvious. While the analogue stick movement is actually quite fluid and easy to use, the various menus or inventory screens (which will be used a lot) were sadly not optimised for a console controller. It is unclear if Don't Starve: Giant Edition could ever have a truly efficient inventory system for a gamepad, given how the game's design requires that there be access to a vast pool of resources for immediate retrieval; life and death can sometimes hinge on seconds in this kind of game, as time is in itself a resource, owing to the day and night cycle. When the sun sets, the more dangerous animals come out to play, and maintaining sanity and keeping a fire going are a constant drain on resources. With a standard controller, this has the potential to get somewhat tedious, as scrolling through dozens of items and resources takes up precious seconds, especially when Wilson the Professor is being pursued by a relentless horde of shadow creatures.

Don't Starve: Giant Edition also includes the Reign of Giants DLC, which entails a few new characters as well as making an already difficult game even harder. The differences between seasons are more pronounced, as each comes with its own new conditions. In addition to a few new characters and bosses, there is also a vast difference in the way how the game is played on a fundamental level, due to all the tweaks to the gameplay and balance, making this more or less the best way to play the game. Don't Starve: Giant Edition is worth the asking price, as long as the player can see themselves adjusting to an interface that is less than ideal - though over time it can prove to be adequate, it is disappointing that the developers did not take the initiative to design a new, and more fluid, menu system.

Screenshot for Don't Starve: Giant Edition on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Don't Starve: Giant Edition looks great due to its gothic art style, and plays wonderfully, too, thanks to the easy-to-learn mechanics. Even if the interface is not best suited for a console controller, the core game is very solid, and though it can be a long grind, there is a sense of satisfaction to be had when a rhythm is struck. That's when Don't Starve: Giant Edition hits its high points. The diverse cast of characters to unlock will keep the game interesting for a long time (easily over the 30 hour mark); anyone who does not care for long grinds may not find much to enjoy here, but those who enjoy riding the razor's edge will get a kick out of it.

Developer

Klei Entertainment

Publisher

Klei Entertainment

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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