Video Game Thoughts: Darwinia

Darwinia was a 2005 real-time tactics game by Introversion Software that I played on the PC. I got this game as a gift for my birthday from my sister. At the time I loved video games so much I was checking game news every day. I had heard of Darwinia and knew it got good reviews but was never interested enough to buy it. I tended to stick with game sequels that I knew I would like.

Although short, Darwinia was a very cool game. I loved the lore they made up for the game. Everything in the game was written like it was real, not a game. In the story, the world of Darwinia was made up to be an artificial intelligence experiment that turned into a computerized ant farm. Darwinians were individuals (AIs) that the computer program had created. They developed over time like a real civilization, like how animals evolved on earth. I became wrapped up in the lore of this world. I wanted to learn more about it.

In addition to the lore, the gameplay was also very unique. The Darwinians were basically helpless. The player couldn’t control them directly either. Instead, they could promote some of them to Officers that could tell the other Darwinians where to go. The player could also create Squads to fight enemies and Engineers to gain control of various buildings. It was a very simple set of rules but still complex. Each level was much like a puzzle. The player had the figure out the right combination of roles and orders to give them to complete the objectives.

Darwinia didn’t have a lot of levels, but each one could take an hour or more to finish. Sometimes the levels were too tedious. The player would face enemies that could “birth” new enemies. If I didn’t make enough killing progress before my Squad died, I had to start all over clearing the field again by the time I got another Squad there. The game wasn’t very forgiving either. If I messed up badly and lost too many Darwinians, my only option was to start the whole level over again.

After finishing the story mode, there was a level editor, where players could create custom levels. Players could also download levels from other players to play, but I didn’t find much of a community making new levels. I think it would be cool if they had made a sequel to this game to add more levels, polish things up, and add more features. One game was just not enough to fully tap this idea. It’s still possible some day since the developer, Introversion, still exists today.

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