Darwinia

Tagged: Game

Videogame (2005). Introversion Software (IS). Designed by Chris Delay. Platforms: Lin, Mac, Win (2005); rev vt Darwinia+ XB360 (2010).

As in Theodore Sturgeon's short story "Microcosmic God" (April 1941 Astounding), Darwinia's protagonist plays God to a world of rapidly evolving and surprisingly involving creatures (see Evolution). The player adopts the role of a present-day hacker who enters a mysterious sealed zone on the internet, the creation of a barely sane genius; the protagonist of Robert Charles Wilson's Darwinia (1998) similarly finds himself in a belljar world, but the novel then proceeds in a different direction. In the private world of the game, newly created AIS are living out virtual lives. However, their world has been invaded by dangerous viruses, and the player is recruited to fight them. To do this, the player has access to a variety of programs which can be used to attack the enemy directly, construct and repair systems, and issue orders to the native Darwinians. Darwinia's gameplay fuses aspects of the Real Time Strategy and action forms with its own original mechanics, to impressive effect. While the game's storyline is weak, the Darwinians' simple personalities succeed in evoking a strong sense of concern for them in the player. The game is also notable for its deliberately primitive visual style, reminiscent of the film Tron (1982), and its status as a successful Independent Game created without the involvement of a major publisher.

Related works: Multiwinia (2008 IS, Win; 2010 rev vt Darwinia+ XB360) designed by Chris Delay, Gary Chambers is a sequel to Darwinia in which the virtual world's inhabitants divide into tribes and turn on each other. The player takes command of one of these groups, and competes against computer-controlled opponents or other participants online to achieve such goals as winning the Darwinian space race, by any means necessary. [NT]

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