To celebrate Klei’s tenth anniversary they’re offering all of their titles on Steam free to play this weekend, plus steep discounts if you want to buy! And you’ll want to buy. Klei makes some great games, but my favorites are the Don’t Starve titles.

Don’t Starve is a horror survival and time management game that is quickly addicting. There characters to unlock and tons of settings to add challenges and interest to the game.

You start off as Maxwell and you have to survive in a strange land that isn’t safe at night. I’m playing as Willow, one of the many characters you can unlock by staying alive longer and longer.

The first thing you have to do is start collecting stuff. The most important being flint and twigs. Twigs can be found on saplings and flint can be found lying on the ground, though once you have enough to build tools you can make a pickaxe and mine boulders which contain stone, flint, and possibly rare minerals. You can also make an axe from twigs and flint, which you’ll need to cut down trees to gather logs, one of the better fuel sources in the game. Why do you need logs? Because you need fire!

For the night is dark and full of terror. A day is eight real world minutes long and is split into three portions: day, dusk, and night. Day time is represented by the yellow portion of the clock in the top right corner, and its length varies based on the season. Days are longer in the summer, and there’s less rain, which is all good. Dusk is the red portion, and things get a bit darker in the dusk. Dusk is kind of like a warning time to get somewhere safe, especially if you’ve made a more permanent location. Spiders (shown above left) and mosquitoes become active at dusk, while many other animals, like Bees, Butterflies, Frogs, Gobblers, Pigs, Rabbits, and Tallbirds (shown above right) return to their homes. Dark is the blue section of the clock and this is when you have to have a light source like a fire. In the complete dark not only does your Sanity (the meter with the brain) drain very quickly, but Charlie the Night Monster attacks in total darkness. So get some fire before dark falls!

Above I have started to build some permanent items, such as the campfire, Science Machine, Alchemy Machine, and chest. The machines help us invent and use new items such as tools, weapons, clothes, structures, and traps. The chest is a great place to store stuff, we don’t need to carry around all of the time, and the campfire is a must because of the nighttime issues previously mentioned.

This is one of those little things you learn about the game as you go, kind of like wormholes (which literally look like sphincters in the ground that will transport you to some other place on the map and can be quite useful once you find them and figure out where they go), but these touchstones are life savers, literally. If you ever see one activate it, and then if you die you’ll respawn here. You’ll lose your items, and you may pick up some random ones, but if you remember where you died and the area is safe again you can go back to retrieve them.

My Tips for Survival in Don’t Starve

  • When you first start, pick up flint you see on the ground and gather twigs from saplings and grass. You’ll need these items for your most basic survival tools: pickaxe, axe, and fire.
  • Don’t gather food you don’t need. You really only need about five of two different food items, berries and carrots being ideal because you can cook them to be more filling. Anymore than that is unnecessary and will likely spoil before you use it. If you’re going to cook something, cook it all so it’s not taking up two slots in your inventory. Later you can trap animals for meat, which is even more filling so you require less, but does spoil faster.
  • Don’t settle on a permanent location in the first week. The maps are big, and there are advantages to certain locations you’ll figure out the more you play. Such as staying away from forests that can harbor spiders and lakes that are home to frogs (which are total assholes).
  • Befriend pigs, but beware of werepigs. Pigs are cool guys. They like to keep their distance, but friendly pigs can help boost your character’s sanity. You can feed them meat or eggs to win them as an ally, with higher quality food gaining more time (up to two and a half in-game days). When their loyalty time is about to expire they’ll indicate hunger by patting their belly, feed them some more and they’ll stick around. Make sure to not feed them monster meat, and avoid them at the full moon. That’s when they become werepigs and they’re not so cool.

There’s a lot more to learn about the game Don’t Starve, but learning all of those things is half the fun. As I mentioned above, all of Klei games are free to play this weekend, and they’re discounted steeply for purchasing through the 16th. Make sure to check them out!

What’s your favorite indie video game?

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