Today I’m looking at a mod for the game Don’t Starve Together, an adventure/survival game where your character and your friends gather resources, fight monsters, and try to stay alive. Me and some friends recently got into it, and it has simply been amazing. While I haven’t played the game much, my friend Brandon has, and his mods, including the one I’ll be talking about today, have made it even more fun.
        First, I should explain a bit about the game- your character, no matter who it is, has Health, Hunger, and Sanity gauges. Health is obvious, Hunger goes down over time and is restored by food, and you die if you let it run out. Sanity goes down when exposed to terrifying things or supernatural oddities. As the character goes insane, they start seeing shadowy creatures wonder about, bunnies transform into Beardlings, black versions of themselves that drop Nightmare Fuel rather than meat, and once your sanity is especially low, the shadow monsters will attack you.
        Now that you know that, the mod I’m discussing today adds Madotsuki from Yume Nikki into the game as a playable character. She has 140 Health, 10 less than the average, 160 Hunger, and a considerably low 100 Sanity. This means that in general, she will go insane much more often than other characters, but there are perks to choosing her- she loses Hunger less quickly than other characters, she can gain 10 Sanity by killing creatures, she does and she starts with a knife and a bed roll.
        Bed rolls are used for sleeping purposes, and while a character sleeps their health and sanity increase, while their hunger decreases. So she won’t get as hungry, becomes hungry more slowly, and can restore her other stats at its expense. Plus, she starts with her own weapon, giving her an edge, no pun intended. In addition, while normally the darkness itself will attack you if you are out of the light at night, it will not if she is sleeping. Unlike normal bed rolls, hers has unlimited uses.
        However, there are considerable downsides too. Her sanity does not decrease when spotting monsters or being around evil things, like other characters. However, it does decrease constantly, and that rate quadruples at night. There are ways to counteract this, yes, but the only method that works well with her is to kill animals and monsters, since that gets her 10 Sanity each time. You also may not have to worry about her nighttime drain as much since she can simply use her cot then. She cannot during the daylight hours, however.
        Unlike normal weapons and cots, her items will never deteriorate, and she has recipes to make more if they are lost or destroyed. She also has a recipe for a Red Knife, which does more damage than her regular one- the same as a Spear, except it also never deteriorates, and recovers 1 Health and 1 Sanity when used. The recipe requires 2 Nightmare Fuel, 10 Flint, and 3 Living Logs. The recipe for her regular knife is much the same, but it requires regular Logs instead.
        Nightmare Fuel is very easy for Madotsuki to come by- after all, Beardlings drop it when killed, and those shadow monsters that attack when your sanity is drained do as well. Flint is a common item, so finding a lot of it isn’t hard. Living Logs, on the other hand, are more difficult to acquire. If you’re lucky, you can find a ‘Totally Normal Tree’, which is a tree with a face. These give 2 Living Logs when chopped, and a Shovel can get you a third by uprooting the stump.
        But they do not seem easy to come by. The only other possibility is for her to face a Treeguard. These can be found in forested areas, much like Totally Normal Trees, or can be summoned by simply chopping down a lot of trees, since that angers them. However, be warned- Treeguards are considered bosses, and while they are terribly slow, they hit hard. Finding the less scary trees would be better unless you have traps waiting for them and a good weapon. You could try burning them, but that risks burning the Living Logs.
        All in all, Madotsuki is at her best with that Red Knife, since it can restore the health she would be likely losing from constant fights, and help restore the sanity she is literally fighting to hold onto. Even then, she would likely be facing the shadows very, very often, especially early on. She is a very challenging character to use, to be sure.
        But what really struck me about playing as her is how she reacts to the world around her. Every character, sans Wes the mime, has something to say when they examine objects, fight, and so on. From this, we can get a clear idea what is going through her mind. And it is a very interesting picture. For starters, her line when selecting her is “This is a dream… right?”
        She believes the world of Don’t Starve to be a dream of some sort, or at least wants to think that. And I can’t blame her- a world filled with shadowy monsters and incredibly harsh elements would not be one you would want to be stuck in. However, as comments from interacting with various objects shows, she does not have her usual Effects from her own game, and she states that she missed them. If this is a dream, it is not her usual sort of dream, but one far more terrifying.
        So with that in mind, no wonder she is constantly losing sanity. This isn’t what she is used to- even disregarding the dreams, she is ostensibly a young woman who never leaves her room, whereas now she has to fight for her life and create refuge from the elements. We do not know why she never left her room, but this world certainly gives a good reason not to.
        This is as far from her normal reality as can be, and the coming of night, with it’s own horrors, and the fact that darkness itself will attack you if you are out of the light… no wonder the sanity drain gets even worse. Her bed is her only refuge in such times- a temporary return to the dreams of her own surreal and more peaceful reality. While she is sleeping, even the darkness cannot hurt her.
        As for her gaining sanity by killing other creatures, that does seem a bit surreal. But I see it as her gaining a semblance of control over her circumstances. Whether it is something out for her blood, or just an animal she killed for its meat, she is showing mastery of her environment, so that would help counter her fear of the world around her. Her lower Health and higher Hunger can also be explained by her previous living environment- she probably didn’t get much exercise in that room, so she isn’t at her healthiest, but at the same time she may be used to not eating for long periods of time.
        The knife she starts with could very well be her Knife Effect, given it looks just like it, but where does the Red Knife come from? Well, it does not seem to be based on anything from Yume Nikki itself, but I interpret it her as something she created as she adjusts to this world. It is no less terrifying to her, but she has managed to take something from it for her own. If you have her examine Nightmare Fuel, she will say it was something she saw in her dreams once. In other words, it is a substance she is somewhat familiar with, so her ability to craft her own Knife Effect from it may not be so strange, or to even improve it.
        The Red Knife is made from ordinary flint, living, probably magical wood, and the very nightmares that will haunt her so. She may be forced to fight the shadows that come as sanity fades, but from their remains she has made a greater weapon to destroy them with.

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