Written by Jonathan Wojcik
31 Spookiest Don't Starve Creatures
Another game series I've neglected for years, Don't Starve is a survival game with an adorably gothic style that, admittedly, makes virtually all of its contents qualify as "spooky" to some degree, the same dilemma I ran into reviewing Hollow Knight critters. Can we make this work, too? We'll find out!
This was actually the first enemy in this game I ever happened to see artwork of, so we're putting it first! I still think of it as one of its most iconic creatures, and it's certainly not a combination of features I've really seen before. I mean, cyclops bids are rare enough, but it's also a cyclops bird consisting mostly of its eyeball and incredibly long stork-legs, with only tiny, nearly useless wings. Unmistakable!
This feels like another "iconic" one to me, and I always like monsters whose whole "theme" is that they've got a big tongue and ingest everything whole, like a gulper eel. A little black fuzzball that does the whole Lickitung/Swalot kind of routine is a lot of fun! It also has an interesting mechanic in which it latches onto your head, places itself in your "hat" inventory, and parasitically increases your hunger!
Something about this one feels very much like it came out of some early Dungeons and Dragons module. It's a hulking, upright crustacean with a stone exoskeleton that also eats rocks and minerals, uninterested in meat or in causing you any real trouble at all. I love its little cuttlefish face, with nubby tentacles and big, sad eyes.
THE ROCK LOBSTER
This is a completely harmless creature, and one of the cutest in the whole setting. It's like a shaggy, fat fly with a bunch of little eyes! It is in fact a tameable creature whose very presence is beneficial to your sanity, since this is one of those games with that "sanity" mechanic so many of them mess around with. I don't think brains work that way, but alright.
A traditional, chompy carnivorous plant creature, which I put here because all Audrey II's are precious and because the trope looks so nice in the Don't Starve style! Unlike most monsters of this archetype however, the Snaptooth walks! I always love a killer plant that gets up and moves around!
A pun on "mucus," because the threat of this monster is that it'll spit a big wad of adhesive phlegm and glue the player down when there are much more meat-eatier creatures around. I really like monsters that present a danger in tandem with other monsters, and I really like how scuzzy and unpleasant and ornery this thing looks. It looks exactly like the thing that does what we just said it does.
Another nice plant-type enemy! The birchnut tree has a lovely little stalked eyeball that can poke out of its shaggy, purple canopy, and its fruits come alive as nasty little botanical gremlins!
THE BIRCHNUT AND BIRCHNUTTER
Always love an antlion monster! This one is a more literal hybrid of an ant and a lion, but the design still leans primarily to the insect side, and I really like its almost grasshopper-like face with those beady little white eyes. This monster inhabits the desert where the player must pacify it regularly with items. Certain offerings can enrage the antlion into a battle, but for others, it may even give back presents of its own! By presents, we usually mean strange stones said to come from the antlion's own digestive tract (a bezoar in technical terms), which can be expended to teleport players or used in crafting!
Lead by queen "Womant" of course! She feels like she might be a subtle homage to Queen Slug for a Butt from Earthworm Jim, not because they both borrow from a termite queen but because they both have really devilish features and four menacing, red eyes. Why do so many games give ANT queens the giant termite abdomen though? Why not just make them termite people??
In any case, my favorite here is actually the regular worker Mant. It's just so dumpy and beady-eyed and cute! All thre designs however feel as if they capture the more charming qualities of ants, focusing on their prickly hairiness and really looking "subterranean" to me.
So let's do the other Eusocial insect enemy here, too! The regular Grumblebees are cute little furballs with huge eyes, but the queen is a badass Maleficent-horned vespoid whose abdomen is stylized like a honey-dripping hive. She actually looks more like how I wish the Pokemon Vespiquen looked, more organic and insectile.
There's not a whole lot to this monster besides the obvious: it's a huge insect grub that bursts out of the ground and eats things. I include it, however, because I do not see nearly enough grubs as monsters, because it reminds me of a graboid, and because it interestignly appears as the natural predator and enemy of the Mant Hill! I didn't mean to shove so many insect enemies near the beginning, honest.
THE GIANT GRUB
Another of the game's early classics, a giant, pale, bipedal deer with one big eyeball is a lot more nightmarish an idea than it almost has any business being. It's cute in this style, but seeing such a thing looming in the woods at night would be scarier than any more traditional flesh-eating wolf-beast.
Speaking of, though, I love this variation on the basic canine enemies. In a certain corrupted environment, some slain dogs will get back up again as these mangy looking mutants, and their whole body rips open into a set of jaws! NICE!
THE HORROR HOUND
Anything with additional heads nested in its mouth is a lot of fun, especially a giant, horrible bird. A REALLY giant, horrible bird. I'm pretty sure i know what "BFB" stands for and I doubt the "F" is for "Friendly" as the fan wiki speculates.
I've seen a lot of monsters that exist to be puns on "dragonfly." They're almost always cool, but the coolest are those who make the head insectoid, and while actual "dragonflies" are certainly cool, I like true flies a lot more, so I obviously appreciate that being the "fly" part of this monster! She's actually one of the four giant monsters in a DLC called "Reign of Giants," and she doesn't bother you if you don't bother her first - all she really wants to do is eat.
Creatively, the dragonfly feeds in a very-fly like manner, but spits lava instead of digestive enzymes, allowing it to reduce her food to ash before she slurps it back up!
This is actually a monster you can acquire as a companion, so named because it can keep items inside its hollow body like a portable chest! The design however is much more like a coconut with a mouth. This is another one they probably designed to be "mascot" material, though I haven't noticed as much fandom for Chester as many of the other critters here! What's wrong with Chester?!
This is a neutral creature, but it can blind you with ink. Also, just look at it! It's like a squid and a walking, tentacled rat head with HUGE squiddy, ratty eyes! It looks so nervous!
Excellent, solid monster! A perfect big, round, grumpy toad! The fact that it's also a fungus-infested toad is just a bonus, since the design could pretty much stand well enough on its own. There's not a lot more we can say about it; it's a toad and it has fungus on it.
Always love worm creatures, and I love the gothic cartooniness of this one, furry and stripey and needly-toothed like something out of that Nightmare Before Christmas kinda aesthetic. This one even has a lure on top, which surprisingly isn't something I've seen too often on burrowing worm-type monsters without an aquatic slant to them.
THE DEPTHS WORM
This game gets really great with its plant creatures! The central Lureplant is a weird, purple pod that often dangles a piece of meat from its upper stalk, in order to lure other creatures into its territory. Prey is immediately attacked by the surrounding "eyeplants," actually extensions of the lureplant's own network. These are actually both the plant's eyes and mouths, and bite using their pupil!
Fiction can never resist giving "queens" to spiders. It's not how they work in real life, but it's such a cool concept you can't help but forgive it.
THE SPIDER QUEEN
The spiders in Don't Starve have an adorable design that's pretty iconic to the game's fandom; I love those big, bright, round eyes and the little red grimace on this dust-bunny of an arachnid! The queen mother does an excellent job of looking like exactly the thing that would spawn hundreds of these little sweeties and rip you apart for mistreating them, her monstrous maw and vicious eyes among the more badass I've seen on a spider monster. The way she keeps herself wrapped up in silk is also really cool and unique!
I'm covering these separate from the regular spiders, because they spawn from their own unique spider den called a Spilagmite, exclusive to caves. The "cave spider," left, has a single massive eye and a very cool looking shell it can retreat into, while the "spitter," right, launches gobs of webbing from its mouth and has a distinctly more monstrous appearance than most other spiders! Most other spiders.
THE SUBTERRANEAN SPIDERS
These horribly mutated spiders are found in the same area as the Horror Hound, resembling weird, lopsided spider-blob heads overgrown with alien crystals. The most interesting thing about them to me is that their actual den looks like a spider itself, one so bizarrely malformed that it serves as a sessile, living nest!
THE SHATTERED SPIDER
From the same tainted biome as the Horror Hound and Shattered spiders, this is a variation on an amphibious bird called a pengull, but this one is little more than pengull bones and guts encased in a hunk of ice! Gorgeously horrid, and I wish more ice-type monsters were just a bunch of biomass frozen together.
THE MOONROCK PENGULL
There isn't an especially good image of this one's rather small in-game sprite, but the cookie cutter is based on the real-life cookie cutter shark, in that it specializes in carving little holes out of much larger things. As revealed by one art stream however, the cookie cutter of the Don't Starve world is some sort of arthropod! Though six-legged like an insect, it looks the most to me like it would be a copepod or amphipod crustacean! The whole concept of a sea-bug with a skull-like face that chews little holes in boats might be one of my favorite things in this whole game.
THE COOKIE CUTTER
THE SHADOW CREATURESThere are a whole lot of different shadow creatures in Don't Starve, and their manifestation is the foremost symptom of your character losing too much sanity. Each exhibits unique behaviors and a unique design, but we're lumping together because they're still mostly just a bunch of vague, black shadow-figures. One of the first you might see however is Mr. Skits, on the left here, who actually can't be attacked and never does anything to harm you.
We're going to end on my favorite player characters, as several of them are monsters themselves! One of these is Wurt, a positively darling little fish-girl! Specifically, she is a Merm, a race of humanoid fish mutants who inhabit swamps and marshes. Not a lot is known of her personality; she's quiet and shy and just a lot more interested in the world around her than the rest of her kind, who would rather smash most of it. For whatever reason however, Wurt does despise pigs and the pig-people who are also a thing, which is a problem, since you need to get involved with the pig-people for a number of items and quests.
How great are ALL plant characters?! Look at Wormwood! Have you ever seen a more wonderful little plant guy!? The huge eyes, the jagged underbite, everything about this design is simply flawless. Wormwood formed when a vine curled around a strange, glowing gem that fell from space, and he awakened with an instant love and fascination towards all living things. Unfortunately, it wasn't mutual, and "The Lonesome" is Wormwood's official title. Playing Wormwood sounds like a lot of fun, since he has access to completely unique botanical items and various mechanics that reflect his entirely different physiology; even healing himself with manure! His appearance, speed, and nutrient demands even change with the season as he develops a bud and "blooms" in the spring!
I guess it's all too predictable that my personal favorite would be the spider kid, but it feels nice to not actually be all alone for once. Webber seems WIDELY adored by fans, as he should be! He's actually a human child who was killed and eaten by one of those delightful spiders, but if you find and bury his skull in a suitable grave, a bolt of lightning will reawaken him as a spider-child hybrid! Webber even frequently refers to himself as "us" or "we," seemingly possessing both the child and the spider's minds simultaneously, and his mechanics allow you to befriend the various spider-type enemies as a whole personal army!
Spiders appear as monsters in countless games, but we're rarely given opportunity to ally with them at all, let alone actually play as a spider. Webber may, in fact, be among the most unique playable video game characters out there right now, and given how much fan art I've seen of him without even looking, I'm not the only one who thinks of him almost as the real breakout star of the whole IP. So where's all his merchandise already?! There's really JUST a Funko pop!? UGH!
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