App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
The Don't Starve games are titles I've always been pretty ambivalent about. On the one hand, they are these cleverly designed systems with great art and a sense of charm, but on the other, they are brutally difficult experiences that demand that you be prepared to wipe the slate clean every time you play. Don't Starve: Shipwrecked, the latest installment to make it to mobile, is hardly different from its predecessors in this regard, but it does offer some changes to the formula that might make it feel like a seaworthy sequel for fans.
Starved at sea
The main goal in every Don't Starve game is to do exactly what the title says. You control a character from an isometric perspective who finds themselves stranded out in the wilderness, and it's your mission to try and stay alive for as long as possible. In Shipwrecked, you just so happen to be stranded on an island, where you'll need to cut down palm trees, dig through sand, and even create rafts to sail between land masses.
You don't really get prompted on exactly how you should go about not starving, but that seems to be part of the fun of Shipwrecked. You kind of figure it out as you go along, which can make for some fun stories thanks to the series of systems laid out by the game for you to interact with.
When you start any given run of Don't Starve: Shipwrecked, you have precious few options beyond harvesting nearby items like twigs and grass by hand. Eventually, this allows you to build some tools, like a hatchet and pick axe, which in turn allow you to harvest other resources in order to feed yourself and make increasingly complex items to aid in your survival.
In addition to managing hunger, you also need to do things to keep your character sane, like sleeping and making clothes. You'll also need to protect yourself from wildlife that can attack and kill your character if you don't know how to defend yourself properly.
The primary twist that Shipwrecked puts on survival is the fact that islands can run out of resources, which inevitably forces you to build rafts to hop from island to island. This has the added benefit of making the game feel more adventure-like.
No matter what you do in a Don't Starve game, you'll end up finding death somehow, whether that's by actual starvation, being beaten to death by a pig man, or something else. When this happens, everything you've done resets and your next run will force you to take what you learned previously to survive a little longer or otherwise meet your same demise.
This design choice is my main gripe about Shipwrecked and all the other Don't Starve games. I don't particularly like having to start from scratch every time I die, especially since early parts of the game involve a lot of the same repetitive actions. It also doesn't help that the game's user interface can easily make you tap on things you don't mean to, which can make the difference between survival and death in some situations.
The bottom line
Don't Starve: Shipwrecked is worth checking out if you like the kind of gameplay that the Don't Starve series offers. This entry does a few new things, but not quite enough to feel like it will win over too many new fans. For me, I respect these games and can have a decent time with them from time to time, but the prospect of restarting on every death fills me with a kind of dread that pushes me away from diving back in.