I’ve been kinda obsessed with this game lately…
For those of you unfamiliar, Don’t Starve is a totally awesome survival game which you should consider checking out. It’s about Wilson, a goofy gentleman scientist who is enticed to build a bizarre machine on the advice of a mysterious voice coming out of his radio (seems legit!). Activating the machine transports the poor guy into a strange wilderness filled with a host of strange creatures. Forced to survive in this place, Wilson must find a way home and confront the who tricked him…
There’s a lot to love here: the dark, animated art style, the zany characters, scary monsters, and an added dash of horror all makes this game an endearing gem. Even more, the makers of Don’t Starve have also continued to make changes based on fan feedback, and it’s really fun to see how new additions can change strategies.
I also have to confess, I have a ridiculous, girly crush on Wilson (a quick search on Tumblr proves I’m not the only one), so I might have a slight bias. Unlike some people on the internet, I try not to annoy others about my romantic feelings for fictional characters. I’m just trying to give full disclosure.
In any case, I want to delve into Don’t Starve’s lore, as much of it is being ‘explained’ over time. This lore has been revealed through secret URL codes in update trailers. These links lead to images that contain information that the audience can then speculate upon. Klei Entertainment continues to make these trailers, so more of the story will continued to be revealed over time, and there was one update very recently.
The story that’s been shown so far is the origin of Maxwell, the ultimate villain of Don’t Starve. His story of a mundane magician turning into a captive king is one that spans across the shores of America.
All Aboard!: This link shows the inspection card of William Carter, an Englishman traveling to America. Even though the photo is terribly scratched, the definite resemblance assures it’s safe to assume that William is the man that will one day become the demon Maxwell.
Abracadabra!: An image of a brick wall with several advertisements, including a one for Carter’s magic act at Bowery Hall, a theater in New York City. It doesn’t seem very impressive; the poster just shows him pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I know it doesn’t make me want to go see a magic show. Carter’s face is again scratched out.
Hard Times…: A collection of letters and bills addressed to Carter. He owes money to someone named Witherstone for magic supplies, and a misspelled, threatening letter accompanies the bill. Apparently, his career isn’t going as planned. On a more positive note, there’s also a postcard from his brother Jack, who lives in California. He asks about Carter’s magic show and suggests that he should pay him a visit.
Dark Enlightenment: Some documents forgotten in the sand. There’s a poster for a circus, a newspaper clipping, and a letter to Jack from Carter. Apparently, he has taken up Jack’s offer and traveled to California and at some point found a book that has ‘opened his mind to new possibilities.’ However, on his way to California his train collided with a circus wagon. Carter’s been assumed dead by the authorities, but he assures his brother that he’s alright.
However if one looks closely enough, there are strange shadows that lay across the documents. If you have played Don’t Starve, you will recognizance one of them at least. It seems some certain somethings have their eye on Carter.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The most recent entry of William Carter’s story. The image contains an impressive poster for Maxwell the Great’s magic show, a journal entry from Carter/Maxwell, a page from the strange book, and a job listing for an assistant. It seems that Carter has used the book to further his career. He’s reinvented himself and his act, now using the name Maxwell, and has finally become a successful magician. He’s even looking to hire someone. Maxwell is likely just a stage name, but he could have changed it in order to avoid his previous debts in New York. The status of Jack and if the two brothers ever met is unknown. However some of Maxwell’s experiences during a ritual leave him troubled… Have forces greater than Maxwell finally caught up with him?
These tidbits of information leave players speculating, and coming up with all manner of theories. However, I have my own to propose.
In many of the links listed, William Carter’s name and/or face is scratched out or smudged. Many people think that this is the work of Them, the creatures that captured Carter/Maxwell and they’re trying to erase his identity. I think that this is really the work of Maxwell himself. As a successful magician of real magic, he probably dislikes his former, failure self. Stamping out things that remind him of his past probably helps him feel better.
In regards to some of the other characters, it’s still difficult to tell if all their stories are interconnected or not. It’s safe to assume that the ‘twins’ Jack refers to are Wendy and Abigail (other playable characters in Don’t Starve) so they’re very much connected to Carter/Maxwell, and rumor even goes so far to say that the two are his daughters. This I disagree with for several reasons.
Throughout all the documentation about Carter, there’s no mention of any children he may have. I doubt a failing magician would think about having kids, or be inclined to bring kids on his travels. There’s also no indication that he was married or had a long-term relationship in order to produce said offspring. Also, while it’s obvious that Maxwell is a jerk with an enormous ego who’s willing to torment random people for entertainment, he doesn’t seem depraved enough to lure his own children into his world. That’s my opinion of course and I may be proven wrong, but only time will tell. Honestly, I’m more inclined to believe that Wendy and Abigail are his nieces or some other type of distant relation.
The other theory I have is somewhat more pressing. William traveled to San Francisco in 1904, and made a huge comeback in 1905 with his new act. Considering how close the timeline is, I suspect that William/Maxwell is the one responsible for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires. With Maxwell/William’s impressive powers, and demons chasing him down, a disaster of such a large scale occurring is well within the realm of possibility. Either Maxwell was taken by force and the city was collateral damage, or Maxwell could have accidentally caused the disaster with his own abilities and escaped into an alternate world to avoid responsibility only to be captured. Either way, he’s now suffering the consequences of his hubris.
So what do you think? Let me know in the comments.