In Don’t Starve, Summers Are Miserable, Unfair, and Completely Frustrating

Don't Starve

I live in Minnesota, where summers are short and winters take up almost half the year. So I think it’s safe to say that I’ve developed an almost religious appreciation for summertime.

The folks at Klei Entertainment, however, seem perfectly willing to reject the awesomeness of summer. In fact, it’s almost like they have an intense hatred for the loveliest of seasons.

In Don’t Starve, you’re tasked with surviving a harsh fantasy world that looks like it could have come straight out of the mind of Tim Burton. The elements are your adversaries far more often than they are your allies, and the game’s brutal permadeath mechanic means the stakes are always extremely high. In fact, sometimes it feels like a bad luck simulator.

And in no season is this more true than in summer.

Now, I’m not writing this simply to complain about summer being difficult; I’m writing to explain that it’s damn near broken. The heat is unbearable, there are dangers that can wipe out your entire camp in one fell swoop, and there’s almost nothing interesting that makes summer worth the effort.

The major downside of summer is that the heat can start a fire quickly, and that fire can wipe out your entire camp in just a few minutes. Yes, you can lose your entire camp, which you’ve probably spent the entire previous season constructing. This is no rare thing either. I’ve never managed to survive a summer without watching my camp go up in flames at least once.

In order to prevent this, you can build an Ice Flingomatic, but it costs precious gears, which are one of the rarest building items in the game and are completely non-renewable. In fact, I’m approaching the 40th day of my current save file, and so far I’ve only found a single gear, which was randomly inside a tumbleweed (in the dozens of hours I’ve spent with Don’t Starve, this is the only time I’ve ever seen this happen). The only other source for gears that I know of is from clockwork enemies, which can be brutally difficult to kill (especially the Clockwork Bishops).

You also need excessive amounts of ice, which you can only acquire in large quantities in the winter. (If you’re lucky, you can find ice in other seasons, but it’s typically only available for a very narrow window of time and in very small supply).

To keep your own body cool (and you’ll die quickly if you don’t), you can build an Endothermic Fire, which requires nitre. Nitre is much easier to acquire than gears, but it’s also a non-renewable resource.

So, in order to stand a fighting chance in the summer, you’re dependent upon two non-renewable resources. You’re also almost guaranteed to lose your entire camp in an uncontrollable blaze. And the only good thing that can happen in the summer is that you can potentially acquire the Dragonfly’s Scale, which can be used to craft the Scalemail. As far as I can tell, this is the best piece of armor in the game. Of course, this almost certainly will come at the cost of watching everything you’ve ever loved go up in flames.

Don't Starve

I’d be perfectly fine with summer if fires were preventable by some means that didn’t require hard-to-find items, or if maybe they were just incredibly rare (like lightning strikes, which can also flame your camp). I’d also be fine with it if some cool things happened in the summer. In winter, there’s snow, different variations of critters like rabbits and birds, and even penguins and glaciers that give players something relatively interesting to look at that’s exclusive to the season. Summer just has heat and fire and death and suffering.

There’s no reward for summer survivors (besides the rare chance to acquire the Scalemail), and it’s incredibly difficult to prepare for without using rare, non-renewable materials. It’s not difficult in an interesting way; it just feels like it punishes players for attempting to do anything even the slightest bit interesting.

To me, this simply isn’t fun. And I’m a guy who believes strongly that summers are supposed to be fun.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x