The canon game plot of Don't Starve centers around Wilson, a gentleman scientist tricked by the mysterious Maxwell into building a machine which transports him to a strange world filled with monsters and other challenges. The player must help Wilson navigate the various worlds of Adventure Mode, which offer more difficulty as the game progresses. Wilson will begin to understand why Maxwell brought him into this world and the terrible secret of his power. Along the way, the player will find an extra character who can only be unlocked during Adventure Mode, and he will eventually confront Maxwell himself.
Don't Starve challenges the player to survive in a wilderness environment for as long as possible. In Sandbox Mode, the only way the game ends is with the player's death or by restarting the game in a new random world through the use of the Wooden Thing. When the player dies they are awarded Experience for the number of days they survived. Each death provides experience, which is added to a cumulative total and used to unlock additional playable characters. Although death is permanent and the player's world will be lost when the game ends, various methods of resurrection can be found to stave-off the inevitable.