Review by ZGR115

Reviewed: 02/01/06

Wow... How strange... But fun.

What a strange game, Darwinia. But it is extremely fun. OK here's the story. A computer guy, called Dr. Sepulveda, created a virtual world, called Darwinia. It's inhabitants are called Darwinians, little virtual beings. They are the result of thousands of generations of virtual breeding, which is all an AI experiment. But alas! Viruses have come and invaded Darwinia. It's your job to beat them.

First, the graphics. Very simple, very "retro". You are in a completely 3D level. Everything is made of polygons. Surprisingly, it achieves a great effect. The land is noticeably made from triangles, the buildings are made of simplistic shapes, and the viruses (which take the form of spiders, centipedes, and the such) are made from very crude and very pixelated 3D models. Any special effects, such as explosions and other particles, are all made by 2D emitters. The background is completely black and the sky looks like a ceiling of crystal parallelograms. Mind you, this was all done on purpose, because this pixelation and polygonal environment creates the feel of the entire game. and that's a good thing. You are in a virtual world. That much is very clear.

The sound? Not much. Music is rarely even playing, and when it is, you won't notice it. The music is kind of like a slow techno trance. Weird, but it works. Sound effects consist of your standard blips and bloops, and then there the occasional explosions and other stuff. Nothing too special, but again, it fits in with the environment of virtuality.

Gameplay. Well, for the most part, this game is a real time strategy. It's kind of like Pikmin, but not really. (That was the closest example I could think of.) There are Darwinians, which are small 2D "people" of the land. Darwinians are workers. They operate machinery and buildings, and sometimes giant cannons and such. Next, viruses. They are the nasty buggy things of Darwinia. They can be centipedes, spiders, ants, or even egg-laying bugs. The eggs can then hatch and make more viruses. Then there are squads. Squads are the fighter units. When controlling them, just aim with the mouse and right-click to shoot lasers at viruses. (They can also use a ton of other weapons, too). When you destroy a virus, its "soul" is left behind. (A small red blip.) Finally, there are engineers. They fix stuff up, such as broken buildings. Engineers can also take the souls of viruses and when taken to a certain building, they can make new Darwinians. There are no such things as resources, so you can create or destroy as many units as you want with no cost. However, there is a limit as to how many units you can have at the same time. Also, you can upgrade each unit many times. This increases their power, or give them new abilities or weapons, or just makes them more helpful to you.

The objectives in the many levels are varied and many. You may have to obtain a certain amount of Darwinians, or fix a certain building, or destroy certain viruses. Each objective ties in with the story quite well. My main complaint against this game is the time it takes to complete a level. Levels may not be difficult, but some may still take literally two hours to complete. (Much of this time is tediously waiting for your slow units to traverse empty terrain.)

Controls? Again, very simple. WASD to move the camera, mouse wheel to zoom in/out, and cursor to look in different directions. Click to select a unit, spacebar to deselect. Once a unit is selected, use mouse buttons to move or use it. Camera movement and flow are very nice and the controls are easy to use.

Replay... The full game will take a measly 10-15 hours to beat. After that, there is a level editor to make your own mods to the game and share levels over the internet. However, this game will get boring after a while. The level editor may be a bit complicated and perhaps worthless.

Overall: 9/10. I deducted for being too short a game, and because the graphics at times seem too simple. Mind you, it's still a fantastic game filled with virus-busting strategy and action. It was a very enjoyable game for me.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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