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Darwinia review

The glowing grid-mapped lovechild of Tron, Lemmings, and Centipede

Pros

  • Retro-arcade gameplay
  • Eccentric strategy mechanics
  • Emotional (albeit short) storyline

Cons

  • Simplistic
  • repetitive gameplay
  • Stinky pathfinding
  • Clash between 2D/3D mechanics

Darwinia sounds like the sort of game that ought to involve tweaking squirmy single-celled organisms all the way up to pensive, brooding bipeds. In fact, Introversion's quirky Darwinia has nothing to do with its "Charlie Darwin" namesake. Instead, it "evolves" (if that%26rsquo;s the word) a few coin-op principles into a psychedelic real-time strategy romp with rudimentary arcade tendencies. If retro-funky were real estate, Darwinia would own it coast to coast.

This is gaming at its weirdest, where fractious landscapes lined like neon graph paper pulse beneath flat clouds, and bitty green stick figures mill around blinking towers waiting to be saved. It's the culmination of one Dr. Sepulveda's desire to build a virtual theme park and populate it with sentient, evolving life forms (called Darwinians). No surprise, an evil virus has overrun Sepulveda's digital zoo and, naturally, you're their only hope.

You start in a hollowed-out globe and click on "trunk ports" to log into virtual terrariums landscaped with islands, control towers, slinky viruses and hapless Darwinians. Zipping and zooming god-like overhead, you create "programs," Darwinia's cutesy name for movable units like Squads, Engineers and Officers. You can run up to three programs at a time, "starting" or "stopping" them at your leisure (and there are no pesky resourcesto worry about). Instead, levels offer increasingly difficult obstacle courses, all of whichhinge on herding hordes of Darwinians to "safe zones."

More Info

GenreStrategy
DescriptionA blast of retro geekery that's amusing but repetitive.
PlatformPC
US censor ratingEveryone
UK censor rating
Release date:14 December 2005 (US), 14 December 2005 (UK)
Available platforms:PC
Genre:Strategy
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