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Video Game: Don't Starve
"Say, pal, you don't look so good. You'd better find something to eat before it gets dark out."
Maxwell

Don't Starve is a sandbox survival game by Klei Entertainment. The player awakens in a procedurally generated world, populated by various monsters of varying levels of friendliness (these levels being "indifferent" and "murderous".) From there, it is up to you to survive and explore the world. To do this, one should gather resources, do science, and most importantly... Don't Starve.

Don't Starve started as an app for Google Chrome, but later became available on Steam. It saw a full release on April 23, 2013, with new content continually being added post-release.

On May 1, 2014, a DLC titled "Reign of Giants" was released. It added lots of new content to the game, including two new characters, three more boss monsters, the seasons of Spring and Fall, and a tweaking of the game mechanics.

Like every other video game and its dog, it has a wiki. The official website can be viewed here.

This game provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The Dangling Depth Dweller, a type of spider that resides underground and drops from the ceiling before attacking.
  • Adipose Rex: The Pig Kings. These guys are very useful for one reason: they give you gold if you give them meat! Since meat is a replenishing resource and gold is not, this is one of the few ways to regularly get the best equipment in the game.
  • Adorkable: Wilson. He may be a scientist, but he doesn't really use scientific terms to describe things. For example, he will say, "It's all piney." when he examines a tree. Another is when he is examining a hammer, and states, "Stop! It's time. To hammer things!" Dorky, but cute.
  • All Balloons Have Helium: Wes can blow balloons at the cost of five sanity points apiece. They do indeed float.
  • Alternate Reality Game: Some of the supplemental material in the form of puzzles hidden in trailers and on the game's website.
    • The William Carter Puzzles are a series of puzzles hidden in update trailers in the form of hidden web links. It follows the story of a stage magician named William Carter, who is Maxwell's original identity and details how he came to the Don't Starve world.
    • When the DLC "Reign of Giants" was released, mysterious notes with coordinates could be found in-game. The trailer for the DLC had a hidden link to a website that had a map and a puzzle. Solving the puzzle would lead to comic that showed a teaser for the upcoming multiplayer feature.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite
  • And I Must Scream: The Nightmare Throne.
  • An Ice Person: "Reign of Giants" gives the Deerclops freezing ice attacks.
  • Anime Hair: Wilson, and Willow to some extent. The bones in the characters' hair may explain how, in Forbidden Knowledge, Wilson's hair can be blown back in a small explosion and "boing" back to its original shape.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Apparently, Thulecite, upon which the Ancients in the second level of the Caves built pretty much their whole civilization.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A hidden page shows, among other things, an article about a collision that William Carter/Maxwell somehow survived. The headers say:
    TRAGIC TRAIN CRASH
    Circus wagon struck at crossing
    Many passenger injuries reported
    Elephant unharmed
  • Artistic License - Biology: Even without getting into the fantasy creatures, some of the island's flora and fauna is rather odd. Just a few examples:
    • The "evergreens" look like firs, but drop pine cones.
    • The "lumpy evergreens", which have no cones, are said by Wickerbottom to be a different species from the regular ones. If they're a separate species, how do they reproduce without seeds?
    • The "saplings" never grow into trees, so they seem to actually be shrubs.
    • The redbirds are called "robins" in the game code, but look like cardinals.
    • Planting a butterfly on the ground somehow turns it into a flower.
    • All farmed plants look like vague cabbage-like things until they bear fruit, regardless of what they eventually end up producing.
    • In the Reign of Giants DLC, when players can be struck by lightning and the viewer sees their skeleton, they are shown to have bones in their hair and clothes.
  • Audible Gleam: Golden tools make a "shiny" noise when equipped.
  • Badass Beard:
    • Wilson is capable of growing one.
    • Woodie starts with one, although unlike Wilson’s beard, it cannot grow or be shaved off. Word of God states that his beard may not actually be made of hair. It's shown when Woodie is struck by lightning, his hair has bones in it, and his beard is part of his skull.
    • Webber can grow a beard of spider silk.
  • Badass Bookworm: Wickerbottom qualifies.
  • Bandit Mook: Krampus and Splumonkeys. Krampus will take items only if the player has been "naughty" enough, while Splumonkeys will knock items out of the inventory onto the ground and take them. The player can take everything back from both only by killing them.
    • If a Gobbler pops up, it will eat up any berries left on nearby berry-bushes.
    • To a lesser extent, Frogs will knock items out of your inventory when they attack, but not steal them.
    • Pigs and many monster types will eat food left on the ground.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Abigail, and the ghosts that occasionally appear when you dig up a grave.
  • Bee Bee Bomb: The Bee Mine (which occasionally shudders and buzzes when laid).
  • Berserk Button: Bunnymen are normally quite docile, but they despise all forms of meat, and having any in your inventory enrages them, turning them hostile.
  • Big Bad: Maxwell is the primary antagonist here, and you can confront him directly in the Adventure Mode.
    • Bigger Bad: However, it becomes apparent that Maxwell himself is a prisoner of a higher power, the shadow beings.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Spider Queen. From the DLC Reign of Giants, there's the Dragonfly.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Krampus Sack. Krampus can jump into it to leave the world, and Wickerbottom remarks that the sack is somehow bigger on the inside.
  • The Big Guy: Wolfgang. Although his in-game sprite is practically the same size as the others, only a bit bulkier.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: The pigs.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Most of the male cast have these. The lone exception is Webber. Some mobs also sport black bead eyes.
  • Boss Battle: Complete with its own unique theme music. There are currently three boss monsters in the vanilla gamenote  but even if you managed to defeat them there's still more where they came from.
    • The DLC "Reign of Giants" introduces three new bosses note .
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Tallbirds. They tend to be encountered in the same areas as spiders, but they have a ton of health and can kill an unarmored character in two hits. (Unless you're playing as Wolfgang, in which case they kill you in four hits)
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Inverted with Wes. For all the trouble you had to go through to free/unlock him, he turns out to be the weakest playable character. His purpose is to provide a challenge for players who felt the game was too easy.
    • Played straight with Maxwell, who starts the game with several powerful late-game items and has considerable passive sanity regeneration which more than makes up for his low health. Unlocking him requires beating adventure mode by clearing five increasingly-nasty challenge maps, consecutively. Any player capable of beating Darkness likely does not need any more help.
  • Breakable Weapons: Most weapons have a "durability" that appears as a percentage, which lowers every time they're used. They break when the number hits 0. Unlike most games where this mechanic is used, this time it's justified - you can't expect an axe made out of a twig and a piece of flint to be very durable.
  • Buffy Speak: The name of the structure that teleports the player to the next world is called a Wooden Thing. The parts that must be combined with the Wooden Thing are the Box Thing, Crank Thing, Ring Thing, and Metal Potato Thing (the last of which is the reason why the fully assembled Wooden Thing is often called a Teleportato).
  • Bullfight Boss: Though not exactly a boss, the Clockwork Rook will charge at you at an alarming rate. It will often break through marble structures and even trample its own allies to get to you.
    • Also the behavior of the Ancient Guardian, which the Clockwork Rook resembles.
  • Canada, Eh?: Woodie.
  • Captain Obvious: Every character has their moment, simply calling something what it is upon examination.
    Wendy: "The darkness! It is too dark!
  • Chess Motifs: One of the many mysterious themes in the game, it’s present here in the form of Clockwork Bishops, Clockwork Knights, and a single Clockwork Rook, all of whom guard the Teleportato to the next world in both Sandbox and Adventure Mode.
  • Combat Tentacles: The subterranean swamp monster, otherwise known as the tentacle, is an ambush monster that can be found within swamp/marsh biomes. You never get to see the creature it's attached to but regardless it is hostile towards anything that comes near it. What makes it worse is that it remains hidden until you're inches away from it and it also deals massive amount of damage. If you manage to kill it you'll get the spiky part of its tentacle which you can wield and attack foes with. So, in essence, you can technically obtain a combat tentacle, too.
  • Context-Sensitive Button : The spacebar does a lot for you.
  • Cosmetic Award: The game's creators consciously avoided giving this game any achievements on Steam because they didn't want to force players into any particular actions or routes during the game. The PS 4 version of the game needed to have achievements, so what they did was pare it down to the most basic of basics, one trophy each for each playable character, and an "Accomploshrine" that doesn't do anything except provide you with a trophy. Might be Biting-the-Hand Humor at that.
  • Creepy Child:
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: All of the human characters have these, some more noticeable than others.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Having lower health does not incur any penalties to your character. You'll perform just as well as you were when you have full health.
    • Low hunger means Wolfgang becomes weaker, though he is fine at low health.
  • Cyclops: The Deerclops, of course. He drops his eye when he dies, which is a rare and useful item.
  • Darkness Equals Death: A literal interpretation with The Night Monster, which may be a reference to Zork.
    • Except for Willow, who has a lighter that functions as a torch which never goes out.
  • Death Cry Echo: Characters all give out the same set of death cries, except Wes the mime.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist / Continuing Is Painful: Similar to Realm of the Mad God, dying used to be the only way to gain experience. Nowadays you can assemble and activate a device known as "The Wooden Thing", or Teleportato, to go to the next world and collect your XP. However, it's a pretty big slap, as you have to start the entire world from scratch when you die.
    • If you die in the Adventure Mode, you get back to the Survival Mode with all the items you had when you left. This means you will have to go through all 5 chapters again.
  • Detect Evil: In a way. Many monsters have an insanity aura, meaning characters will lose sanity when they're close to them. Since Tentacles are hidden in the ground until mobs get very near, watching the sanity meter for the downward arrow is a good way to detect if a Tentacle is nearby and act accordingly.
  • Difficulty Spike: Surviving 'til Winter is an accomplishment. Surviving through Winter is an even greater one.
    • Then comes Reign Of Giants DLC. Surviving Autumn til Winter takes little effort. Surviving through Winter is an accomplishment. Then comes Spring with its endless rain, sanity drain and dropping body temperatures. THEN comes Summer with constant Overheating, scorched plants, and spontaneous combustion. And that's without taking the eponymous Giants into consideration.
  • Do Not Drop Your Weapon: Played straight. You won't drop your equipped tool no matter how many times you get hit, unless you encounter frogs or Splumonkeys, who have an attack that drops your items with each hit.
    • In the new Reign of Giants DLC, there are enemies that can make you drop your equipped tool. And if you are wet enough, there's a chance for your tool to be dropped.
  • Downer Ending: The ending to the new Adventure Mode has you figure out that Maxwell is merely a pawn for the Shadowy Forces that run the world and has actually been trapped on a Throne of Nightmares for an eternity, and if you free him from the Nightmare Throne it will trap whoever you are currently playing as there forever... or until you beat Adventure Mode again.
  • Easter Egg: The Old Bell summons Bigfoot, a giant reptilian foot that crushes anything in its path. The rest of the body normally can't be seen, but by using console commands, you can see that the rest of Bigfoot is a bony stump with a brain attached.
  • Edible Bludgeon: The Ham Bat. Though despite being made of meat, it's not actually edible.
  • The Edwardian Era: Maxwell and Charlie are from this time, according to the William Carter Puzzles. One of the included letters implies that Wendy might have come from there as well.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: All of the human characters in the game have pale white skin and dark hair (with the exception of Wendy, who has blond hair).
  • Eldritch Abomination: Let's see... First we have the Night Monster, which kills you if you are in the dark for too long, and as of the sanity update, there are the delightfully named Crawling Horrors, invisible, tentacled tick/mite things, as well as multi-legged beaked snake things, shadowy hands, and many others.
    • Just to emphasize this trope, they only spawn at low sanity levels, and they drop literal Nightmare Fuel. Yes, Nightmare Fuel is an item in this game.
    • The Ancients may have worshipped or even harnessed Eldritch Abominations, considering the quotes from some characters upon examining the Ancient Pseudoscience Station.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The spiders have a much more dangerous variant called the spider warriors. Basically, they're gigantic jumping spiders which makes them a lot more difficult to run away from: luckily, they only come out when you attack their den or when spawned by a Spider Queen.
    • Hounds have Red and Blue variants (for summer and winter, respectively). They set you on fire or freeze you.
  • Endless Game: Survival Mode. The introduction of Adventure Mode gave the game a proper ending.
  • Enemy Summoner:
    • A Spider Queen, who don't summon Spiders and Spider Warriors so much as she gives birth to them.
    • Wargs call hounds to their aid by howling.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Splumonkeys, monkeys that dwell in caves and live inside barrels. They rob players of their inventory and throw manure in combat. If a Splumonkey manages to steal a hat, it'll wear the hat.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Pengulls. They’ve been described as classy.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Former provider of the page image.
    • Webber has it worse than other characters: while spiders ignore him, or even become his friends with an offering of meat, every other mob able to attack in some way will hunt him on sight.
  • Exclusive Enemy Equipment: Tentacle Spike, Krampus Sack, Tam o' Shanter, Snurtle Shell Armor, and Shelmet.
  • Experience Meter: Unlike the usual, your experience meter appears when you die (or when you move to the next world map) and increases depending on how many days you survived.
  • Face Hugger: The slurpers in an upcoming update do this. When they attach, they take up the head slot of the character's inventory, dropping whatever is there. When attached, they provide light and slowly drain the character's hunger. Make of that what you will.
  • Fantastic Flora/Extreme Omnivore: Lureplants, whose "eyes" are their only defense and will eat anything.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Charlie, the Night Monster.
  • Fire of Comfort: Willow’s sanity will increase when she is near a fire.
  • Fish People: The Merms, who often drop fish when killed. Developers' explanation? "They are made of fish".
  • Foregone Conclusion: In October 2013, Klei released a series of puzzles to accompany the "All's Well That Maxwell" update. Dubbed the William Carter puzzles by fans, it elaborates on Maxwell's backstory as well as that of a girl named Charlie. The same Charlie confirmed to be the Night Monster. It ends about as well as you'd expect.
  • For SCIENCE: The crafting aspects in the game, as well as Wilson's motivation for building the Wooden Thing in his backstory.
  • invokedFridge Logic:
    • In the DLC Reign of Giants, if Webber comes across his skeleton and examines it, he wonders what happened to the spider parts, since he's not entirely human.
    • Despite being a robot, WX-78 can be bitten by mosquitoes. It wonders why they'd bite a bloodless machine like itself.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Chopping down a tree in the vicinity of other trees will very rarely spawn a Tree Guardian. For added fun, it happens to be a boss level monster.
    • They can also be pacified by planting pine cones.
  • Game Mod:
    • The first official mod was released in October 2013, titled ''The Screecher''. It was also the first total conversion mod to be possible on the game's engine.
    • Steam has a workshop for the PC version. There is also an in game link to a community filled with mods that aren't on the workshop.
  • Gameplay Automation: The space bar. Use it to chop down entire forests, strip mine rock fields, harvest crops, pick up items and kill hordes of monsters with only one button.
  • Geo Effects: Swamps and spider webs impede movement, while cobblestone and dirt roads boost movement speed.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: In "Reign of Giants", an item called the Old Bell can summon Bigfoot, a giant reptilian foot that squashes anything it steps on. It dwarfs the already huge boss monsters and can kill them in one stomp.
  • Giant Spider: The spiders, the most common hostile mob in the game. They live inside spider dens and roam around near it at night. They're about the same size as your player character's head. There's also an even larger spider called the spider queen. (She is, essentially the den that the smaller spiders live in.)
  • Go for the Eye: Wilson's battle cry.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: There are regular pickaxes, axes, and shovels made from flint, and there are golden variants of those that are more durable (the logic of which is pointed out by some characters).
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: When Wilson examines a sewing kit, he will comment, "Darn it! Darn it all to heck!!
  • G-Rated Sex: When beefalo are in mating season, their babies spawn off-screen.
  • Gravity Barrier: There are no beaches. The edges of the game world are surrounded by cliffs.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The Bat Bat is a giant Batilisk wing that not only damages foes but gives health to the player with each hit, and the Tentacle Spike, the end of a Tentacle, is the most damaging item in the game with no harmful effects on the user.
  • Hammer Space: The characters' pockets can hold a great number of items, including wall segments and flooring.
  • Harmful Healing: Monster Meat is very filling, but dramatically lowers your health. The same goes for Monster Lasagna. The mushrooms qualify too; typically, eating a mushroom will recover one stat and lower another.
  • Harmless Electrocution:
    • WX-78 will not only become supercharged upon being zapped, but will come out of it with a large health boost. It will take a toll on the ol’ Sanity Meter though.
    • Other characters take a bit of damage from being struck by lightning, but that's about it.
  • Healing Potion: Healing Salve and Honey Poultice.
  • Heal Thyself: Spiders drop their glands when killed, which can be used to restore a pittance of health. Alternatively, you can save them and gather some ashes and rocks to craft a healing salve, or create a poultice using papyrus and honey. Several food items can also heal you up a little bit as well.
  • Hearts Are Health: The Life Meter is represented as a heart in a red circle that shrivels as the character's health lowers.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Distorted growls and moans generally signify the approach of a powerful mob. Hounds bark, a distant Deerclops growls and shakes the earth, and the Night Monster hisses periodically. Player characters have a tendency to panic at the noise, which also provides a warning to those who have their sound off.
  • Heroic Mime: Wes, who gets bonus points for being an actual mime.
  • Hit Points: Hover you cursor over the Life Meter and you'll see exactly how much HP you have left.
  • Hive Mind: The Giant Spiders and the bees. Attack one of them or one of their dens/hives and all of them will attack you. Each have their own worker and warrior classes. At the moment, however, only the spiders have a queen.
  • Hive Queen: As of the "Long Live the Queen" update, the colonial spiders of the game now have a queen.
    • Oddly subverted with the bees, who don't have their own queen. (Not yet, anyway.)
  • Hot Bar: It also acts as your item storage.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: When winter rolls around, a pair of Scottish walruses named MacTusk and Wee MacTusk emerge from their igloos to hunt you. These blubbery Scots sic their ice hounds on you before using their blowguns to finish the job. To make matters worse, they're smart enough to keep their distance when you get close, so it's best to fight ranged weapons with ranged weapons.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Many foods have healing effects, with the best ones being even better than the dedicated healing items.
  • I Call It Lucy: Woodie’s possessed, sweet-talking axe.
  • I Can't Use These Things Together: The majority of the game's dialogues come from examining things.
  • Idle Animation: Every playable character in the game does the same idle animations. When they're facing the camera they scratch their heads, when they're facing sideways they kick the dirt and when they're facing away from the camera they scratch their backs. Depending on their sanity, they might also shake their heads back and forth in paranoia or wince from having a headache. If they're freezing, they'll huddle and shiver, and when they're hungry, they'll rub their stomachs.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: "Maxy" to Charlie when the latter attacks the former. It's never works...
  • Instant Sedation: Subverted with sleep darts, as they can take several uses to sedate one target depending on its size, but played straight with the Pan Flute and Mandrake.
  • Interface Screw: This starts to happen when your character's Sanity Meter decreases. It gets worse the more the meter decays.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The game has a day and night cycle with night time being noticeably shorter but still very dangerous. Each cycle lasts eight minutes.
  • Item Crafting: Nearly every usable thing in the game.
  • Joke Character: Wes has lower health, sanity, and hunger than the other characters, and isn't able to properly examine things (he will just make odd gestures and remain silent). Word of God says he was introduced to challenge players who thought the core game was too easy.
  • Joke Item: The Ham Bat, which originally did the same damage as a Spear but is more costly and can spoil; and the Powder Cake, very similar to a real life Twinkie, which only decreases health, can't be fed to allies, and takes 18,750 days to spoil.note 
    • The Ham Bat has now been fixed so that it does nearly TWICE as much damage as the spear on top of having infinite use for as long as it's fresh making it a Lethal Joke Item.
  • Just Add Water: Some of the crafting recipes make sense, and some don't. Four logs, four rocks, and a hunk of gold make a Science Machine. Two sheets of paper and one or two other items make a book. Two pieces of flint and some twigs make an axe. Corn and honey make what's basically a Twinkie. And so on.
  • Karma Meter: Killing too many innocent animals results in Krampus appearing and stealing the items in your chest.
  • Killer Robot: One of the unlockable characters is WX-78, a robot stated to have a homicidal hatred for all organic life.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The player can destroy pig houses even with the pig still inside and take all the components without the pigs minding.
  • The Krampus: A monster named after this shows up if the player kills to many innocent animals.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A lot of the characters wonder why golden tools are more durable than flint-based ones.
    Generic: "Hey, isn't gold really soft?"
    WX-78: "GOLD IS MORE DURABLE?"
    Maxwell "Must be game logic."
    • Maxwell questions how an entire wall can fit into his inventory.
    "Pocket-sized wall pieces. Yup."
    • Butterflies rarely drop butter when killed. This is pointed out by one of the characters: "Some puns are irresistible".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Killing too many non-aggressive creatures will make Krampus spawn. He is very fast and will break your chests, grab your stuff, and run away.
  • Letter Motif: All the playable characters (Wilson, Willow, Wolfgang, Wendy, WX-78, Wickerbottom, Woodie, Wes William Carter, Wigfrid, and Webber) have names that begin with 'W'. As a matter of fact, the only ones who breaks this rule are the NPCs Maxwell and Abigail.
    • Lampshaded in that Maxwell's playable character file is called Waxwell. And his real name is William Carter.
  • Level-Map Display: It only displays your current location and some objects and structures in the game.
  • Life Drain: The Bat Bat heals the player for 6.8 health every time it hits an enemy.
  • Life Meter: The game's life meter consist of a circle filled with red that decreases when damaged. Along with it is a heart icon that slowly shatters and disintegrates as your health meter nears zero. This game also has a sanity meter, a hunger meter, and (in Reign of Giants) a wetness meter.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: See Harmless Electrocution.
  • Loading Screen: The game has one every time a new map is generated. Rather than actually say what parts of the game are loading, the loading screen will say things like, "Iterating upon spiders", "Reticulating Wilson's beard", "Embiggening game theory", and "Framing a keen sense of despair".
  • Loud of War: When the player character finds Maxwell, he's stuck in the Nightmare Throne while the phonograph next to it plays the same ragtime song over and over. Turning it off will make Maxwell thank the character and say that he's been listening to it for an eternity.
  • Lunacy:
    • The native pig people of the game transform into werepigs every full moon. They'll also turn into werepigs if they eat enough damaging food, usually in the form of monster meat.
    • Woodie turns into a Werebeaver during a full moon or when he chops down trees too quickly.
  • Magitek: The Shadow Manipulator. A tier 3 science machine that is made with, and seems to run on Nightmare Fuel and shadows.
  • Mama Bear: If you steal a tallbird egg, the parent will chase you until it dies or it kills you.
  • Mana: The sanity meter can be thought of a a mana pool, as characters lose some sanity when using magic items.
  • Mighty Lumberjack: Woodie, who comes complete with a Badass Beard and a possessed axe, affectionately named “Lucy”.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: This game has plenty.
    • Rabbits are Jackalopes in all but name.
    • There are also the Beefalos which seem to have a body of a yak, antelope-like horns and, most bizarre of all, a monkey's head.
    • The Deerclops is a deer Cyclops.
    • Pengulls are a mix between a penguin and a gull, the beak noticeably being the gull part.
    • The Koalefant has the furry body and general cuteness of a koala, but it has the legs, tusks, and trunk like an elephant.
    • Slurtles and Snurtles, portmanteaus of "slug" and "turtle", and "snail" and "turtle", respectively.
    • From Reign of Giants DLC:
      • The Catcoon is a cat-ish, raccoon-ish critter that behaves much like a cat.
      • The Dragonfly is a giant fly with draconic characteristics, like the ability to breathe fire.
      • Bear + badger = Bearger.
      • Moose + Goose = ... Moose. Or Goose. The label in-game alternates between the two. The mob can lay eggs that hatch into Moslings.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: The Bush Hat is a berry bush hat. When in use, the player appears to be a regular bush, and enemies won't attack. The disguise doesn't work on the Night Monster, turkeys, timed hound attacks, and mobs that are already pursuing the player.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Most of the female characters have blank white eyes for some reason. The only exceptions are Wickerbottom and Charlie. Some mobs also sport white eyes.
  • Mooks Ate My Equipment: Lureplants are surrounded by Eyeplants that will eat birds, rabbits, and anything that can fit in one's inventory. They're sort of like Bandit Mooks, though they'll eventually digest the animals and food.
  • Mook Maker: Spider Queens will spawn smaller spiders every few seconds. What makes it even worse is that she also spawns the spider warrior variant, and all the while other existing spiders will follow her around, making it extremely difficult to kill her directly without some special tools and advanced tactics.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Growing a beard as Wilson allows you to shave it. With four beards and four pieces of meat, you can create an effigy of yourself, which means you can never die as long as you have a fresh effigy. A full beard also provides Wilson warmth during the winter.
  • Mushroom Samba: Eating 'shrooms relieves some hunger, may restore or damage health, but always takes out a chunk of sanity.
  • Nemean Skinning: The Spiderhat, which is obtained only by killing a Spider Queen.
  • Nice Hat: You can craft headwear in the game. All of them possess unique properties when worn like sanity recovery, built-in light source, warmth during the winter, bee protection or armor.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Although the protagonists never do, many other creatures do. A lot. Manure is of vital importance for farming. Pigs will "produce" after you feed them, and Beefalo do it all the time. In fact, it would probably be difficult to find another game that features poop so prominently.
  • Nominal Importance: All pigs are named, but the player can more easily see them when they've been befriended. (Hovering the cursor over an allied pig gives "Examine (name)" instead of "Attack".)
  • Non-Indicative Name: While there is a hunger mechanic, it quickly becomes apparent that starvation is only one of your worries.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: The Moose/Goose is rather goofy looking compared to the other giants. Not that it's any less dangerous.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Beefalo go into heat during mating season, indicated by a redness on their backside. During this time, they become quite aggressive.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: The game's plot can be summarized with "You are on an island; don't die". This was changed with the introduction of Adventure Mode.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Plays when a Night Hand appears.
  • One-Gender Race: Tallbirds.
  • Organ Drops: Many enemies drop body parts once killed.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Pigs stuck outside during a full moon or given four health-damaging foods (mostly monster meat) transform into Werepigs, retaining whatever hats they had as Pigs. They will eat all the food they find on the ground before attacking the nearest living thing. A Werepig will stop to eat something even while chasing or fighting someone. The transformation lasts 2 minutes or until the sun rises. Woodie transforms into a Werebeaver on a full moon or when he chops trees too many times in a short period. The only way to stay as a Werebeaver indefinitely is to gnaw on trees and foliage, filling a meter. The meter diminishes over time or when Woodie gets damaged, and when it empties, he becomes human again. Thus, on a bad night, your gameplay might be interrupted by your befriended Pigs and yourself becoming Were-critters.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • When you're wearing a Beefalo Hat, Beefalo in heat don't attack you when you go near them. Presumably, they think you're a Beefalo too, or at least no threat.
    • Wearing a Spiderhat (a Spider Queen's head) will make Spiders and Spider Warriors follow you and fight for you, even against a Spider Queen. Pigs, even those you've befriended, will see you as an enemy and attack.
  • Perma Death: If you die and don't have an item to revive you, you will have to start over in a new world.
  • Petting Zoo People: The indigenous pig peoplenote . They live and spawn in pig houses and they will become your ally/minion once you've given them meat. They will chop your trees and fight your enemies (even at the cost of their own lives) just as long as you keep feeding them meat.
  • Pig Man: There are pigmen in the game. They are simply known as "pigs" in-game. They live in pig houses or villages and worship their own pig king. You can befriend one by giving them meat,and you can also trade with the pig king with grave-dug objects like lawn gnomes or buttons in exchange for gold nuggets.
  • Player Character: In the beginning you'll start out with Wilson, unlocking new characters for you to play with as you level up.
  • Point of No Return: Once you activate the "Wooden Thing" to travel to another random world map, you'll never be able to go back to the previous world unless you die in which case you'll have all the equipment you owned from BEFORE you used the Wooden Thing. You'll lose all of your adventure mode progress though.
  • Power Crystal: There are several gems available in the game, all of which are used to craft magic items. Unless dug up from graves, they're obtainable in the late game.
  • Power-Up Letdown: You can use a carrot to bait a trap, and it'll catch a bunny faster. However, in this game there's so little to eat in a rabbit that you might as well have just eaten the carrot.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: A weapon useful for attacking from a range. As long as the target doesn't move too far, the boomerang will always hit and return to the player.
  • Protagonist Without A Past: So far only Wilson has been giving a proper story for why he's in the Don't Starve world, though it's been suggested that everyone is there because of a certain brand of radio.
  • Pyromaniac: Willow. Her special abilities include being immune to fire, being able to restore sanity by standing next to an open flame, and starting fires if her sanity gets too low. The other characters can burn down trees and spider's nests with torches.
  • Random Drop: Most items that come from mobs have varying chances of dropping.
    • Rare Random Drop: Butter (from butterflies), Shelmet (from Slurtle), and Krampus Sack (from Krampus) are the rarer drops. Fortunately, none are essential.
  • Random Encounter: Set pieces are rare, naturally spawned structures and items in all game modes. They can be helpful (like a skeleton with items by it), neutral (like a forest full of Treeguards), or dangerous (a chest that turns the season into winter or summer).
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The game's map is randomly generated every time you start a new game.
  • Respawn Point:
    • The player character will always respawn at the same spot every time you start a new game (assuming it's the same map from before).
    • The Meat Effigy also counts as a respawn point. The advantage of this method is that you'll still be in the same playthrough, and you get to decide where you respawn by placing the Meat Effigy where you want to respawn. Touch Stones have the same effect as the Meat Effigy but are randomly spawned at certain areas on the map, can only be used once, and don't reduce your maximum health like the effigy does.
  • Roaming Enemy:
    • Koalefant, which must be tracked first.
    • Sometimes while tracking a Koalefant, you might find a big angry Warg instead.
  • Roguelike
  • Rule of Funny: Presumably the reason why Wilson, Willow, Wendy, Wickerbottom, Woodie, Wes, and Wigfrid have bones in their hair.
  • Sanity Meter: When you're still relatively sane, your vision becomes flickery and desaturated. As your sanity gets lower, you will begin to encounter horrific creatures made of shadows, which become more visible as you get more insane. When your sanity is dangerously low, strange white sigils will start to ring your screen and all rabbits turn into Beardlings, Ugly Cute living tufts of hair. What happens when you're totally insane? Any drops of meat are turned into monster meat instead, and your hallucinations begin to come after you.
  • Sanity Slippage: What will happen if you neglect your Sanity Meter.
  • Satan: Maxwell, probably.
    Wilson, examining pitchfork: "Maxwell might be looking for this."
  • Savage Setpiece: Several set pieces, also called Boons, are traps, some more deadly than others.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Wilson.
  • Screen Shake: Warns the player when a Deerclops is nearby. Also occurs during an underground earthquake.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: You can lure a hostile monster to another kind of hostile monster. They'll start killing each other giving you a chance to escape or watch the fight and kill the softened surviving one.
  • Shock and Awe: One of Wickerbottom’s books can summon lightning.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Smart Ones:
    • The gentleman scientist, Wilson. Implied to be one anyway. In-game he is no different from the others except for his "beard growing powers" which makes it a lot more easier and safer for him to construct the meat effigynote . The design of the meat effigy itself (modeled after his own visage) suggests that he invented the thing himself. He also made the Wooden Thing.
    • Wickerbottom can prototype all Science Machine and some Alchemy Engine recipes without having to build the Science Machine. Her examinations of various objects also implies this, giving you more detailed descriptions of the object than any of the characters in the game.
  • Smash Mook: Deerclops and Treeguards.
  • Speaking Simlish: Well, kinda. The player characters (except Wes) are subtitled but their speech is represented by rapid instrumental notes. Wilson's is a trumpet, Willow's is a flute, Wendy's is an alto flute, Wolfgang's is a tuba, Wickerbottom's may be an oboe, Woodie's is a cello, and Maxwell's is a harmonium.
  • Spell Book: Wickerbottom’s books can be used to make plants grow, put nearby creatures to sleep, summon monstrous tentacles, conjure lightning from the heavens, and call birds.
  • Spider Swarm: The spider enemies live in a spider nest, attack all together, and a nest can spawn a "Spider Queen" who spawns spider followers.
  • Stock Femur Bone: The giant (known as Bigfoot) summoned by the Old Bell has a protruding femur. Not so bad until one notices the tiny, peculiarly human brain perched atop the end of the bone.
  • Stomach of Holding: Finding an eyebone summons Chester, weird hairy creature who can store up to nine objects in his gut.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: All of the neutral or hostile monsters will attack you - even if you are wearing the best gear in the game, and/or if you have an entire army of pig people, a flock of Smallbirds, or a cluster of spiders by your side. Pigs will attack monsters no matter how powerful their foe is or how outnumbered they are.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: With an Old Bell, you can summon your own Giant Foot of Stomping to crush anyone and anything opposing you.
  • Super-Deformed: All of the playable characters, regardless of their actual age, are depicted with big heads and small bodies. This even applies to Maxwell, who has more realistic proportions as an NPC.
  • Sprint Shoes:
    • Wolfgang on a full stomach can move slightly faster.
    • The craftable Walking Cane makes the character run 25% faster when equipped.
  • Suspend Save
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Sometimes averted with skeletons surrounded by loot, but often if you see a pile of meat, there's a nasty surprise waiting for you. Also, some set pieces are traps: For example, opening a chest may immediately set the surrounding area on fire, or change the season to winter.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Very evil. Even the frogs are trying to kill you. There's also giant spiked tentacles that pops out of the ground and lash out on anything that comes near it.
  • Talking Weapon: Lucy, Woodie’s axe.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: the torch lasts only for a little over a minute. Of course, the game's day is also only eight minutes long, so you can (just barely) make it through the night with just one torch, except in winter.
  • Theme Initials: All playable characters have a name that starts with W. In the game files, the player character 'Maxwell' is specifically named 'Waxwell', just to keep the theme going.
    • Turns out "Maxwell" is a stage name; his real name is William Carter.
  • Thinking Out Loud: Whenever the player examines something.
  • Top-Down View: Though it's more of a 3/4 down view.
  • Tube Travel: The game has one in the form of wormholes. Literal "worm" holes. You can go into its' toothy mouth to come out somewhere on the map (though at the cost of some sanity).
  • Undying Loyalty: What Abigail seems to be for Wendy.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Smallbirds will protect their player at the cost of their own life. However, when they grow, they act as regular tallbirds and will attack the player on sight.
  • Vague Age: None of the characters in this game have a definite age. Some characters look like children; but due to the stylized nature of the art design and their in-game models (all of them have big heads and small bodies of the same proportions), they may actually be much older than they appear.
  • Vendor Trash: Played straight with certain items that are dug up from graves, such as buttons and kazoos, since they literally have no tangible use but can be traded to the Pig King for large sums of Golden Nuggets.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Befriend pigs and you can learn their names and give them hats while they talk about how great you are, like a talking dog. The pigs smile and dance and clearly adore their Giver-of-Meats. You can work to make sure they stay alive and safe by your fire. Or...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Lead your recently befriended pigs into a hopeless battle, leaving them to take the brunt of the damage and then move in for the kill on the softened enemy, then cook and eat their bodies and use their hides for clothing. Oh, and the player becomes a Karma Houdini because pigs dying in battle doesn't count as the player murdering them. One can also feed a pig enough health-damaging meat to turn it into a Werepig, then having its former kin kill it in its temporary monstrous state for more meat.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In Adventure Mode, Maxwell becomes steadily more unhinged as you clear more and more worlds, symbolized by his elegant business suit becoming a worn, ratty cloak, and his trademark sneer becoming a deranged snarl. By the time you finally reach him in the Epilogue, he's pretty much completely given up and lets you kill him.
  • Violent Glaswegian: MacTusk and Wee MacTusk.
  • Voice Grunting: Each character is "voiced" by a different musical instrument. For instance, Wolfgang sounds like a tuba whenever he talks, and Wendy sounds like a flute.
  • Wall Master: Tentacles, which come out of the ground to kill anything that walks near or on the ground it's in.
  • Warp Zone: The Wooden Thingnote . Once all the parts are found and assembled, it will act as a dimensional gate way to a new world map.
    • Since the Doorway to Adventure update, there is also Maxwell's Door, which is, well, a doorway that takes you to Adventure Mode. Somewhat subverted in that you get taken back to Sandbox Mode if you die while in Adventure Mode.
  • Was Once a Man: Word of God is that the Grue was formerly a human girl named Charlie, and a friend of Maxwell.
  • Weaponized Animal: Bee Mines.
  • When Trees Attack:
    • Every so often when you cut down enough trees, a "treeguard" will spawn. It's a very formidable opponent, and is very unhappy that you're messing with nature. They have a chance to stop attacking you if you plant some trees - and then you can use them as a personal guard.
    • "Reign of Giants" introduces the birchnut tree, a deciduous tree that sometimes become angry when you chop other birchnut trees. They attack using tree roots and spawn tiny birchnutters to go after foes. Fortunately, they're not boss monsters and can be killed like any other tree. They also don't get angry during the Winter.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: The entire game revolves around delaying your inevitable starvation. Wickerbottom will even lampshade this when her hunger gets low enough, stating, "Librarian needs food."
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Wilson apparently detests spiders.
    • Woodie feels this way about birds, of all things.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Dark Sword is the strongest weapon, the Night Armor is the toughest armor, and the Night Light is a very efficient light source. The catch? Using them will eat through your Sanity Meter like a pig eats through a piece of meat.
  • World's Strongest Man: Wolfgang looks like your typical circus variety strongman.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Many player deaths are preventable, but occur when they take stupid risks out of desperation, like attacking monsters or pigmen to eat them.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The hallucinations can damage the player and produce Nightmare Fuel, Beardlings (rabbits) and Beardlords (bunnymen) give beard hair, and the Night Hands can put out fires. The items obtained stay as Nightmare Fuel and beard hair when sanity is increased.
    • The craftable item Night Armour is made with five aforementioned Nightmare Fuel and three pieces of papyrus. It's wholly possible that the character just slaps a bunch of paper to their chest under the belief that it's armour.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: The limit on how well you progress is dependent on finding certain key materials. You'll need flints to make the most basic tools, and gold to make the science machine and most better tools. Without flint or gold, all those sticks and berries you got won't go far.


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