by Magus, reviewed on
Introversion Software loves to stretch a genre to make it almost unrecognizable, something they proved with their first game Uplink. Trying to build on Uplink's creative formula Introversion created Darwinia. But, unfortunately, this time they went a bit too far. Darwinia is an entertaining budget game which should be on most gamers' library for it's cheap price and interesting mechanics, but its many flaws (or features as some insist on calling them) force it out of the must buy category.
Scientist in trouble
The story is simple: A doctor created a digital theme park to research artificial intelligence. He created little digital creatures called Darwinians to inhabit this digital park and to interact with each other. That was until a red virus took over the island and managed to conquer most regions. Now, only a few Darwinians survive and they are incredibly important since their DNA (represented by red glowing spheres) contains years upon years of AI investigation. Somehow you manage to enter the system while the infection is taking place and the doctor asks for your help to eradicate the red virus before it is too late.
One of the hardest aspects to review are the graphics and sounds. The game, simply put, looks outdated (read: horrible). The first few hours of game time they are amusing, the background is drawn entirely of lines which give the game a Tron-like look and which looks amazing in motion. But then you keep on playing and notice that every single character in the game is a pixelated yellow or red blur. I've heard that the whole point of the graphics was making it look outdated but I'm sure they could have come up with something better. Sound effects (the few that there are) are repetitive and the neverending sound of the laser guns shooting forced me to turn the speakers off. But I'm not losing much since the music, on the other hand, is nonexistent.
Annoyances of gameplay
The storytelling isn't engaging and apart from the constant repetition of the same tips the doctor has already given you a thousand times there isn't much to glue it all together. Most of the levels feel completely unrelated to each other and while there is no way to lose, be prepared to repeat the levels once and again because you came up short with one of the objectives. For example, the objective of the second level is to rescue 200 Darwinians and take them to a shielded area. Sounds quite easy: each enemy you destroy leaves behind a red orb that can be transformed into a Darwinian by using an incubator. So, after two hours or so of killing red virus fiends I had enough Darwinians to save. To move the Darwinians from one island to another you must use a group of antennas which connect the islands. This sounds easy enough but you can't just click on a Darwinian (or a group of Darwinians for that matter) and make them move.
Instead, you have to create officers and the officers issue the order to move and your Darwinians begin clumsily moving into the general direction you pointed. This isn't very friendly but at least it's a little bit interesting. But then you get to the antennas used to move from one island to the other. These antennas are activated by your engineers which shoot a magical blue ray to a controller building and you can now move the antenna to point to some other antenna and a connecting ray will be created which your units can use to transport themselves. This is quite easy to use for all units, except the Darwinians. Darwinians sometimes just keep staring at the antenna without actually using it and you have to move the antenna and remake the connection so that your Darwinians can finally use it.
No Pros and Cons at this time