Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Video game number sixty five: Darwinia+

Video game review number sixty five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Darwinia+".

Darwinia is a pretty interesting game that I played on Xbox Live Arcade. You start out in digital world that looks a little like "Tron", where you are given a quest by some strange professor to save the "Darwinians". Everything is very "blocky" in this game, from your little stickman soldiers to the snakes and spiders who will try to kill them. These predators are viruses, infecting the Darwinian computer world, so that all makes sense to me.

There are elements of real-time-strategy to this game (you have to lead your little dudes from point A to point B without them being killed). You have to flip switches to transfer your guys, and clear a path for them using the standard twin stick shooting controls.

I really like the gameplay, but have a major gripe that is making this game frustrating for me. The objective is never clear enough for me. Often, you're supposed to lead the Darwinians somewhere, but there is no clear indicator of where that place is on-screen. The professor narrates your objectives at the beginning of each level, but he never specifically points out your goals. This means that I often ended up with a level completed, all my enemies killed...and I didn't know where to take my Darwinians. Trial and Error doesn't work, because every time you send them in a direction, you lose one. Do that frequently enough and you won't have enough to meet the goal to pass the level.

There are youtube guides I found that walk you through this, but frankly...if you NEED a youtube guide to pass a game, it's probably not the game for you. That's how I feel anyway. I put between 5-10 hours into this one, but progress is very slow because I keep getting stuck. With a few simple UI tweaks (an indicator that shows you your goal, perhaps?)...I think this game could have been great. As it stands, I find it a little bit frustrating...and that's what steered me away from it.

Overall score? 5/10. Great potential...but in my opinion, the campaign is just a bit too confusing. Difficulty is fine, but I don't like completely beating a level and then wondering "Hey, what next?" every time. One of my coworkers beat this all the way through, and he thought it was a really good game. I think this is one of those cases where you should definitely play the demo and see for yourself whether you like it or not. If you have the time to invest in unraveling the mysteries of Darwinia, this game could be awesome. I don't have the time...I want that instant gratification, dammit. :-)

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