Darwinia Indie Review
4/5, a rather fun God Game, which is still a bit…weird.
After making Uplink, which was quite successful, Introversion decided to celebrate. Their game was a critical and commercial success, and they did what any bunch of independent programmers would do upon making millions. They spent it all on speedboats and fast cars. Unfortunately, they realized something very important. In video games, 75% of the sales are in the first six months. The money quickly began running out. They released Darwinia, as their last hope. While a critical success, was the game truly as good as many others have said it is?
The gameplay is the first thing to talk about, as it is unique, and the part of the game that was most celebrated. This is, in part, because the game is a melting pot of genres. It is like a ‘god game’, mixed with squad-based combat, mixed with an RTS. This could be confusing if done incorrectly, except the game does a very good job of having each component move in one at a time. Even in the game proper, the elements are introduced one by one and can easily be explained simply by hitting the ‘h’ key.
The first element is the squad-based combat.
Each unit is created by hitting tab and summoning the appropriate unit. The game starts off with merely two units but soon, you get more. The main unit, the squad, is a group of 3 or more soldiers. They move wherever the player left clicks, and shoot wherever the player right clicks, and fire a grenade if the player shoots and right-clicks. Combat is that simple but within that simple formula is a variety of challenges. Once the game introduces giant flying enemy castle-bats that can only be killed by tricking them into laying an egg on top of a grenade, things get really interesting.
The second unit, the Engineer, assists with the RTS element. It has the ability to capture buildings such as the crucial spawn points. These spawn points allow the player to summon more units. Now while Squads can only be summoned at spawn points, the engineers can be summoned wherever the Squads are. This allows the player to use squads to establish a beachhead and then quickly summon an engineer to create a base at the spawn point. Sadly, there is no ability to construct buildings. Still, this element is delightfully fun and a joy to play.