February 14, 2010

Darwinia+ is essentially two games in one. It’s a console port of the original PC title, Darwinia, with a few new additions and tweaks. And it’s also a console port of Multiwinia, the multiplayer version of Darwinia. While Darwinia on the PC was an excellent game, the Xbox Live Arcade port holds up incredibly well on its own as what I consider the best version of the game so far.

Darwinia is a strategy game in which you try to rid a computer from a plague (or a string of viruses) from destroying what little of the mainframe is left. Inside of this computer are little programs known as Darwinians, and it is your job to protect these programs and destroy as much of the virus as possible in each level.  

The game has a very nice look to it with an amazingly catchy soundtrack, both of which complement each other perfectly. It adds to the atmosphere of the game, and it truly feels like you are inside of a computer trying to protect this “world” from being destroyed by the virus. 

Gameplay is pretty basic at first; you start out with two basic types of troops: you have the soldiers and the engineers. The soldiers are your main fighters, the ones who can do direct damage to the viruses you see in each level. The engineers pick up particles left behind by the destroyed (or perhaps deleted) viruses and use them to create new Darwinians. As you progress, you get new abilities for your soldiers and engineers, as well as other helpful tools that make it easier to take out the bigger viruses. 

The Darwinians themselves are the key to each level. Most levels have an objective which tells you to lead a certain number of Darwinians to a safe point in order to progress. You can assign a Darwinian leader to order them around and lead them towards safety, but it’s not that simple, as the Darwinians may get ambushed at certain points and can be destroyed rather easily. You have to continue to protect the Darwinians while also trying to clear out the rest of the level from the virus.

This game may seem simple at first, but as you go from level to level, the challenge ramps up significantly. Luckily the game translated incredibly well to a console, and the controls have been simplified so you can switch from one unit to another or even just navigate the map very easily. It will keep you from losing track of your Darwinians and your other units. But as the game increases in difficulty, it also becomes more and more addictive. 

Once you finish Darwinia, you can move onto Multiwinia, which is the multiplayer game that allows you to face up to three other teams of different colored Darwinians. You have six different modes, including Domination (teams go at it until one of them has full control of the map), King of the Hill, and Capture the Statue (which is the Multiwinia version of capture the flag). With the right group of friends, you can have a lot of fun with this mode. 

The problem I had with it is I could barely find anyone online to play with. I found one match with another person, but he dropped out shortly after the match started, so I resorted to having to play the computer A.I. to try out a lot of the modes. It’s still a fun time waster, but without real people to play against, I don’t see this being as enjoyable as it should be.

Darwinia+ is two great games in one $15 package. It contains an incredibly deep and truly addictive single player strategy game, and a fun multiplayer mode to keep you busy long after the single player ended. I recommend picking this up for Darwinia alone, but having Multiwinia is a nice added bonus. 

Pros: Unique graphical style; incredible music; addictive gameplay; multiplayer is a blast

Cons: Hard to find other people to play multiplayer with


Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.