The Definition of Insanity
Sanity is a fundamental mechanic that drives the unique and fun gameplay experience that is present in Don’t Starve. To survive, you must juggle maintaining your character’s hunger and Sanity. However, creatures lurk around every bend, and you will have to learn swiftly if you want to stay sane and survive, and in this Don’t Starve sanity guide, we’ll help you do exactly that.
I’ve died, starved, and gone insane hundreds of times on many playthroughs before understanding how to keep poor Wilson and his friends sane in this mysterious and dark world. Join me as I share strategies of how to stay sane and what to avoid in the world of Don’t Starve.
It’s your first time loading up the game. Depending on the DLC you have installed, you’ve chosen your Don’t Starve character and selected the type of world you want to spawn in.
You grin at the cute loading screen and read the funny flavor text as you wait for Maxwell to build a random world for you to survive in. You feel a little on edge from the creepy hands that fiddle around as you wait.
Finally, you enter the world, and with a brief introduction from Maxwell himself, you are alone …
You wander picking flowers and gathering resources and notice an eerily peaceful world but shake it off as you laugh at the funny bunnies as they race to their rabbit holes when you draw near. However, eventually, you stop and ponder what your goal is as the time ticks away and night looms in.
You start to hear whispers and strange, ominous noises, and you feel as though you are being watched. You see strange shadowy creatures appear and disappear as fast as they appeared, and that’s when you realize this wasn’t the cute and cuddly survival game you thought it was.
Don’t Go Insane
Every playable character in Don’t Starve has a Sanity stat, and some characters are more resilient than others in surviving the world of Don’t Starve.
Your character’s mental health will play a massive role in their survival, and as the player, it’s your responsibility to keep them happy and confident that they can beat Maxwell and escape.
You can view your character’s Sanity by hovering your mouse cursor over the brain icon. The brain will begin to shrink, and the icon will drain.
As your character’s Sanity drains strange events in the world, such as creepy eyes staring at you at night, your screen may tremble and become distorted while whispers accompanied by strange noises can be heard all around.
At first, these events won’t pose a threat. However, they remind you that you should seek to improve your character’s mental health state.
What Lowers Your Sanity in Don’t Starve
By identifying what lowers your character’s Sanity in Don’t Starve, you can avoid tangling with the fear-inducing Shadow Creatures. Sanity is one of the fundamental mechanics in the game.
As a result, there are a plethora of things that affect your character’s Sanity for good and bad. This section will explain why you keep getting that downward-facing arrow on your sanity icon.
In most cases, you are going to want to keep your sanity in check. However, on occasion, you may need low Sanity to acquire unique resources such as Nightmare Fuel to craft a Divining Rod.
Many conditions will drain your Sanity in Don’t Starve. Basically anything dangerous such as Evil Flowers, monsters, poisonous plants, food, and more, will drain your Sanity.
In Don’t Starve, your character’s Sanity will drain by being in the range of darkness. Therefore, you should prepare for the night around the beginning of dusk.
Make sure that you have the resources to create a fire or torch. In the early days of summer, when the night is short, I recommend keeping on working at night. To do this, you will need a good supply of torches.
Alternatively, you can set fire to trees but be careful as burning trees will increase your naughty level, and you can accidentally start a forest fire if the fire spreads.
Shadow Creatures are enemies that begin to spawn when your character’s Sanity lowers to certain thresholds. At first, Shadow, Creatures are not dangerous but instead a reminder to the player to maintain their character’s mental health.
Shadow Creatures first spawn almost completely translucent, but their presence becomes darker and more physical.
The more insane your character becomes, the lower the threshold and the more dangerous the creatures become.
Shadow Creatures will be able to attack once your character begins to hold their head and close their eyes. Here is a list of all ten Shadow Creatures, what they do, and how to fend them off.
These are the most basic and common Shadow Creatures. They resemble furry insects. Before the attack, it will rear up on its many legs before biting you. This monster will spawn once your Sanity lowers by 15%. It’s the first shadow creature you will encounter in the game.
As a result, the Crawling Horror usually accompanies other shadow creatures when your character’s Sanity is low enough.
Luckily it will only attack you when your character’s Sanity lowers significantly. Its presence will drain your Sanity over time, and killing it, will restore a decent amount of Sanity to your character. The Crawling Horror will typically scurry around you with average speed before vanishing and teleporting around.
As its name suggests, the Terrorbeak is a bird-like shadow creature and is slightly more uncommon than the Crawling Horror.
Although it is more dangerous, its attacks are quite easy to dodge. You will hear a distinctive growl as an audio cue when it attacks. Killing a Terrorbeak will grant a significant amount of Sanity back to your character.
Therefore I recommend you attempt to kill the Terrorbeak as this is a lifesaver when low on Sanity as it can turn Shadow Creatures neutral.
The Terrorbeak is fast, matching the speed of the Tall Bird that is found in rocky biomes. As a result, the Terrorbeak can be difficult to deal with at night.
From my experience, I recommend that if your Sanity is dwindling at night, create as many light sources as you can as this will give you room to fight the Terrorbeak and other Shadow Creatures. However, make sure that you have even fuel to make it through the night.
Mr. Skitts is a small serpentine-looking Shadow Creature that can be seen popping out of chests and slithering around obelisks. Unlike other Shadow Creatures, Mr. Skitts cannot attack you, which does not affect your sanity level.
Mr. Skitts will begin to appear once your Sanity moderately decreases. Although he poses no threat, he is a good indicator that you need to improve your character’s Sanity before things get worse.
While playing Don’t Starve, I sometimes confused this creature with the Terrorbeak because of its similar design.
A Night Hand is identified by a long thin arm connected to a dangly hand. This Shadow Creature does not attack the player and instead attempts to extinguish your light sources, such as a fire. The Night Hand will begin creeping out of a corner of your camera and slowly make its way to your fire.
Standing on the creature will force it to retract, where it will begin creeping to your fire again. If the hand reaches your fire, it will halve its intensity.
Therefore, you can fuel your fire to max intensity to negate its effects. However, if you place a second light source down, such as Fireflies, or create a bright light, the Night Hand will disappear for the rest of the night.
On occasion, multiple Night Hands will spawn at night. However, no more than three can spawn at a time. If more than one Night Hands are present, each fire damage is reduced.
It’s better to kill the Night Hands as fast as you can as their presence will drain your Sanity, and they can be lethal if you are preoccupied with other monsters. Being surrounded by darkness will further drain your Sanity.
How do you Fight Shadow Creatures in Don’t Starve?
How can you kill a shadow, I hear you ask. Well, it’s actually quite easy if you have enough light to fight in. Shadow Creatures can be unpredictable when they teleport. However, they will always make a distinctive sound and animation before attacking you.
Therefore I recommend baiting them into attacking you and falling back as soon as you hear their audio cue. Remember that once you deal damage to a Shadow Creature, it will teleport, meaning you cannot make consecutive attacks. As a result, I suggest using high damage dealing weapons.
- Defeating a Shadow Creature will restore a portion of Sanity, depending on the type of creature. Therefore, I recommend fighting them if you get the chance, as leaving them will only drain your Sanity further.
If you are going to defend yourself from Shadow Creatures, you will need a weapon. I recommend that you prioritize crafting a Pickaxe straight away, as it will allow you to mine rocks and act as a basic weapon. The pickaxe is one of the highest damage dealing tools in the game.
Inflicting 30.6 damage, a hit is more than enough to defend yourself from these wretched creatures early in the game.
Note that the pickaxe deals four less damage than the spear. In my opinion, I would ignore the spear early in the game as you’ll need a Science Machine to craft it.
Every time you craft a blueprint with the Science Machine, you will recover a large chunk of Sanity. Therefore you could use this as a way to defend yourself from Shadow Creatures by forbidding them to spawn.
How to Recover Sanity in Don’t Starve
Recovering and maintaining your character’s Sanity is essential to survive in Don’t Starve, as you’ll learn that it’s more than hunger you need to maintain when you start seeing Shadow Creatures, and your character starts freaking out. Fortunately for you, there are many forms of mental health recovery in Don’t Starve.
For beginners, it may be tempting to light a fire at the beginning of nightfall and wait the night out. This is a waste of time, as you can use this time to carry on resource gathering and exploring if you have enough materials to craft torches and other sources of light for the night.
Being productive in Don’t Starve is a great way to keep your character sane and stay active at night.
Once you’ve managed to craft yourself a Science Machine. I recommend crafting yourself a primitive Bed Roll or the superior Fur Roll.
These items allow you to sleep at dusk or night to advance time to the morning and simultaneously restore a large portion of Sanity, 33 for the Bed Roll and 50 for the Fur Roll. Alternatively, you can craft yourself a Tent to get even better health recovery and defense against the sheer cold of winter.
Note that sleeping in any bed will make your character very hungry, so make sure you have enough food in the morning. Although this is a great way to recover Sanity, I would not rely upon sleeping all the time, as staying awake will allow you more time to prepare for hound and boss attacks.
Furthermore, you will want to make sure that the surrounding area is safe as you will not be able to sleep if there are monsters or aggressive creatures nearby.
Flower picking may sound like a worthless detour from the list of your priorities. However, it’s a great form of quick therapy for your character. Flowers can be found in great numbers in many biomes such as grasslands and forests, each flower you pick up will grant you five sanity points.
Picking up twelve flowers will allow you to craft a Garland, a wearable item that generates a small amount of sanity recovery every minute. Although small, the boost is a welcome one and will allow you to get on with your tasks for longer without worrying about your Sanity.
Picking flowers is a controversial topic within the Don’t Starve community, with one school of thought deeming flower pickers as noobs and the other praising flower picking. There are benefits and downsides to both viewpoints.
As some believe, flower picking strips the biome of natural resources. This is because bees and butterflies spawn from flowers, which then create new flowers. Removing the flowers removes the insects that interact with them.
However, this is only an issue if you harvest a great number of flowers or are playing on the Reign of Giants DLC.
I’m all for flower picking as it provides fast sanity recovery allowing you to focus on other tasks. Furthermore, suppose you are worried about your bee and butterfly population.
In that case, you can create a butterfly farm by catching butterflies with a bug net and then placing them on the ground to plant a flower which will then spawn a butterfly repeating the cycle.
There are three different kinds of mushrooms in Don’t Starve Blue Caps, Green Caps, and Red Caps. However, before you go shoving them down your mouth, you need to know each of their effects. Red Caps are the worst out of the three mushrooms, and I recommend leaving them alone.
Green and Blue Caps, on the other hand, both raise a stat but also decrease a stat. Luckily eating them in conjunction restores either negative mushroom effects, so cook and eat them together!
I recommend picking and cooking Green Caps, a type of mushroom that only spawn at dusk. Eating one of these suckers raw will knock your Sanity back significantly. However, eating a cooked Green Cap will restore a generous amount of Sanity to your character at the cost of a tiny amount of health.
Although Green Caps spawn at dusk, you can dig them up during the daytime, but it will permanently remove the mushroom. You will receive two caps for this, though, so I would only do this if it’s an emergency and you’re desperate to restore your Sanity.
A Blue Cap will only spawn at night, meaning you’ll have to carry a torch while exploring to find them. However, in the daytime, you can examine the root of the mushroom to distinguish whether it’s a blue or green cap.
A raw Blue Cap restores a great portion of hunger and health but will considerably decrease your Sanity, so I recommend eating raw Blue Caps with cooked Green Caps.
Healthy Meal, Healthy Mind
It’s already been established in Don’t Starve that to survive, you will need to balance maintaining your Sanity, health, and hunger.
I’ve discovered that the best approach is to target both hunger and Sanity simultaneously. A Crock-Pot is a fantastic tool that can be used to combine ingredients to make nourishing meals that will substantially raise your hunger, health, and Sanity.
You can craft a Crock-Pot in the range of a Science Machine using three cut stones, six charcoal, and six twigs. The Crock-Pot has four-ingredient slots that can be filled to create a dish. As a result, you can make many different kinds of meals with the Crock-Pot that have different effects.
However, you can’t just throw random ingredients in and hope for the best, as incompatible cooking ingredients will result in disgusting Wet Goop that can be eaten with no effects.
By the time you can create yourself a Crock-Pot, you should be able to hunt rabbits relatively easily with rabbit traps or ranged attacks.
Cooking rabbit meat will result in a basic meatball recipe. Cooked meals will vary in hunger and health recovery, but most meals will grant you five sanity. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot, but keeping your character mentally happy is achieved by gaining frequent Sanity boosts.
However, if you need a quick pick-me-up, there are mentally boosting foods that you can cook to restore your Sanity. Here is a list of meals I recommend cooking:
- Ice Cream: If you have Reign of Giants installed, I highly recommend cooking ice cream as it will restore 50 sanity points and 25 hunger. You can cook Ice Cream by combining ice, a sweetener such as honey, and a dairy product such as milk or butter.
- Melonsicle: You will also need Reign of Giants installed to cook Melonsicle. This is a great alternative to ice cream as you’ll need fewer ingredients, making it an easy food to acquire. To cook Melonsicle, you will need a melon, Ice, and two sticks. Consuming this food will restore 20 sanity points. Consider building a watermelon farm to make this food even easier to cook.
- Taffy: This is one of the most basic Sanity restoring dishes you can make. You can create this dish by combing a stick with honey. Consuming it will restore 15 sanity points but will inflict three damage to your health.
Note that dishes that include ice will drop your character’s temperature, so be careful consuming ice cream and melonsicle during winter. These two dishes are best consumed during the hot summers to lower your character’s temperature as well as restore Sanity.
I highly recommend crafting an Ice Box as many items and food will decay over time. The Ice Box slows this process down, allowing you to cook cold foods in the summer easier.
However, in order to craft an Ice Box, you will need access to an Alchemy Engine and requires two gold nuggets, a gear, and a wooden board to craft.
Question: Is Don’t Starve the Same as Don’t Starve Together?
Answer: Yes, Don’t Starve Together is a standalone multiplayer version of Don’t Starve. Klei Interactive originally planned to release a multiplayer update for Don’t Starve.
However, they added many features such as new items, new monsters, character overhauls, and more that drastically changed the game. Consequently, this would warrant a standalone game not to change the single-player and story mode of Don’t Starve.
Question: What Platforms can you Play Don’t Starve On?
Answer: Don’t Starve was originally released on PC via the Steam Store in 2013. Currently, the game can be purchased and played on the Nintendo Switch, IOS, Android, Xbox One, PS Vita, Wii U, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4.
The clean and stylized graphics coupled with low-performance requirements and small memory storage make Don’t Starve easy to port to other gaming platforms.
Question: Is There a Story Mode in Don’t Starve?
Answer: Yes, an “Adventure Mode” can be enabled in-game in Don’t Starve by activating Maxwell’s Door. Maxwell is the being in the Don’t Starve universe that teleports the player to the Constant the Don’t Starve world.
You can locate Maxwell’s Door by using a Divining Rod. Activating the door will begin Adventure Mode, and the player will be teleported to a new zone with their inventory wiped.
In conclusion, Sanity can be hard to maintain in the latter days of Don’t Starve; however, take the opportunity in the early game to create a space that will aid in maintaining your Sanity. You can do this by working at night gathering resources to build a Science Machine and Crock-Pot.
Remember that picking flowers is a great way to temporarily boost your Sanity but catching butterflies is a much better alternative to creating a garden that will attract bees and more butterflies.
Further allowing you to acquire honey and butter, rare ingredients that can be used to create Taffy and Ice Cream in your Crock-Pot.
Never neglect your character’s mental health as survival becomes increasingly difficult as your character’s sanity drains.
In a final note the best way to survive in Don’t Starve is to be ready for any scenario such as preparing for winter or hound attacks. Your sanity is no different and keeping on track of this will make your life a lot easier.