Darwinia and the 1000000th anniversary edition


Darwinia title image

After Farthest Frontier stole several hours of my life (I’m still trying to figure out the perfect town). I thought I’d review something a little shorter and less addictive. Darwinia, the 2005 classic from Introversion software with music from Trash80.

Turns out it was shorter but probably no less addictive as once I started I had to finish the whole thing.

I had a fond recollection of playing the game when it first came out but I could only vaguely remember the plot and the game mechanics. I remember the graphics being purposefully low-res and it being more about the gameplay. Thanks to the 100000th-anniversary edition (time moves fast in Darwinia) I played a game that looked and felt more impressive than my memory of it.

So what is Darwinia?

Gameplay-wise it’s a cross between Syndicate in that you stomp around with a small group of operatives while shooting and blowing things up. However, it’s also a little like Centipede in that there are indeed centepede-like creatures that you need to shoot to get them to shrink or turn away. However, and I realise this is now getting confusing, it’s also a little like a tower defense game as there are spawn points and stationary gun placements you can craft later in the game. Oh, and did I mention there is a research stream that for some reason reminds me of Themepark?

So it’s many things and all wrapped up in a Tron-esque styling with an interesting story. It has a number of nods to the computing of yesteryear and has clearly been put together by people who love both the era, the industry, and their creation.

My personal favourite was the random ZX Spectrum loading screen that randomly popped up along with the accompanying screech that the tape loader used to make.

Retro loading screen

The graphics while simplistic, although Darwinians move about, they don’t physically move, as in they’re not animated. You may see them wonder off or do the occasional backflip for joy but they’re essentially stickmen. However, as you will see from some of the screen shares you add that with some beautiful lighting effects and the whole game looks rather compelling.

The gameplay itself is pretty simplistic, you select what to build (program to run) you have limited memory so you can’t just run everything at once. You have to terminate programs to get memory space back. Different programs do different things. You can select and control the various programs. That is pretty much it. Sounds simple huh, well it’s not as there are various other programs out there that pretty much don’t want you or the Darwinians around.

Darwinia location view

I won’t get into the story as for the price of a beer and a packet of crisps you can find out for yourself but you can be safe in the knowledge that you certainly can’t fail. I have found no way to die, but perhaps you can fail some missions. That said this doesn’t mean it’s easy to complete. It’s not your Jedi Order-style game where you fail and instantly try that annoying section with the random giant bat again and again and again until you hate both Jedi and Bats. The game layout creates it’s own challenges and this is where a lot of the fun comes it. The game becomes a little strategic but never gets too hard that it’s annoying.

Graphics from Darwinia

Where to get it? Many places but don’t forget if you own the original you can play the anniversary edition for free. 

At the moment 24/08/2022 you can get it for just £1.69 on GoG link below but if you are really old school take the link to amazon and get it on disc if you still have a reader.

Amazon logo purchase link

GoG logo and purchase link

Steam logo and purchase link


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