Introversion Software, a small game development shop in England, have done it again with their latest release, Darwinia.
I was a fan of their first game, Uplink, which was a fun and creative adventure in a William Gibson-esque cyberpunk world. As good as it was, though, Uplink wasn’t perfect; the biggest problem most people had with it was its 2D, menu-driven presentation, which in this age of 3D extravaganzas probably limited its audience. Too bad, y’all missed out.
Anyway, now Introversion is back and Darwinia leaps over the presentation hurdle with grace and style. It’s a fully 3D strategy game set in a trippy computerized landscape, over which the camera pans and swoops effortlessly.
The gameplay itself might best be summarized as “Lemmings meets Tron“. Like the classic Lemmings, your mission is to herd around a flock of defenseless creatures — the Darwinians — from one objective to the next. Like Tron, though, you do this in a stylized cyber-world pulsing with energy and life.
As you move the Darwinians around, you quickly find that you are not alone in this system; virus infections snap at their heels and must be beaten back with Squad programs, digital soldiers you command in real-time-strategy style. As your Squads beat back the hostiles, you can harvest the Souls of the dead programs to be converted into new Darwinians, swelling your army — and the number of little digital people you have to fretfully look after. It’s remarkably addictive.
Because it’s from Introversion, there are a couple other nice points about Darwinia as well:
- It’s cheap: Introversion prices their games to move and Darwinia is no exception: it’s only $29.99 (the UK price is £19.99, so it’d likely be even cheaper if the dollar weren’t so weak against the pound at the moment).
- It’s for everyone: Introversion makes its software available for all major platforms; Darwinia is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and even Linux. I tried the demo on my Ubuntu partition and it set up and ran flawlessly. If they follow the same practice as they did with Uplink, if you buy the CD you’ll get versions for all platforms for the one price, too.
So check out the Darwinia demo if you’re looking for a new addiction — it’s free, it runs on your system (unless you’re one of those strange people still using your Amiga), and it’s great fun!