Don’t Starve — A Tale of a Trumpet Stuck in a Man’s Throat

No tutorials just means that the game is making it hard for you

I once might’ve mentioned that there’s a video game developer called Klei Entertainment that I like because of two games, in particular, Shank and Shank 2. It’s not their most famous game, which is weird because these two were among the first of Klei’s releases. Sometime later, this developer would go on to create the game for which it is most recognised, and that game is Don’t Starve.

I played Don’t Starve on two different occasions. The first occasion was god-knows-when, and it was the first time I played it. I wasn’t too impressed because the first five minutes felt like a waste of time, but I suppose I had a bad day that discouraged me from continuing the game. Not that it matters because the second occasion was yesterday, and I wanted to give Don’t Starve more attention this time. Turns out it’s a good game… once you invest more time in it.

Although I have yet to get to the meat of the game, I’ve already got an impression of its depth. There’s a subtle intricacy in its game mechanics in how it facilitates a survival game. Without even knowing if it was a function, I took some meat and clicked it onto a bonfire to cook it. To my surprise, it worked, just like an actual bonfire. In another scenario, I had to outrun pig-people into a spider den just so they could forget about me and start attacking the spiders instead, saving me the effort to deal with them myself. So yes, there’s some intricacy, but have you heard the protagonist’s voice?

Peanuts, anyone?

I found the “voice acting” in this game quite hilarious, as the characters’ voices are not an actual language but musical instruments instead. So Wilson (the protagonist) has a trumpet for a voice. I heard that “voice” so often that I couldn’t help but think about the adults on all those Peanuts cartoons (with Charlie Brown and stuff)… even though they were a muted trombone and Wilson is a muted trumpet, it was still a good analogy.

And I’m only thinking as Wilson keeps “talking”, why aren’t there more of these? As per my style, I tend to point out design choices, but I seriously think that having noises instead of voices is a great idea… that is not done anywhere else.

Aside from Don’t Starve and Peanuts, what other franchise has characters that have musical instruments stuck in their throat? And it doesn’t have to be just musical instruments but other noise-making objects. In fact, there are many sounds to explore.

I want a game where the characters make construction site noises

I’ll admit that the “noises instead of voices” is a neat feature that can go a long way, not just with musical instruments. How about having sounds related to, I don’t know, a construction site? So in this version, Wilson is a jackhammer. Though it sounds neat at first, a jackhammer for a voice could get annoying after a while.

And it doesn’t just have to be for Don’t Starve, but other games as well, because it’s not my game (as usual). If I made a game where the focus was on the noises the characters made, I would take the creativity further by not just going for an orchestra like in Don’t Starve. I would go for other associations like the construction mentioned above, site noises, or maybe even noises associated with 90s television. By “noise”, I mean more than just the “Snow Show” (now THAT would be an exciting voiceover).

Y’know… one thing I didn’t get to talk about was the terminology in the game because that’s hilarious too. Maybe next time, but until then, I wonder what sounds could be used for a hilarious voiceover?

Why don’t you tell me?

As usual, this is the spot where I ask the readers to join. I’m always searching for more creative people, but I get the feeling that I’m searching in the wrong places. So if you can’t brainstorm with me on noises that could be used as voices, tell me where I need to look for creative minds because Reddit is not the answer.

In Conclusion…

Don’t Starve is a good game, and I wish I had played it sooner, although I don’t think I’ll continue playing it since it’s not my style of game.

But the “voice acting” was a pretty cool feature, and I hope to see more games like these, where they make weird noises instead of the usual human speech. I forgot to mention that they did something similar in Banjo-Kazooie, with the whole “unintelligible gibberish” feature. Except that in Don’t Starve, it’s not as annoying.

My only regret is that I didn’t get to tell how much I laughed at the term “science machine”. Maybe another time… or never…, but don’t worry, it’s not that important.

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Jeffrey McGee

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