The Adventures of Darwin Review

From Vingt-et-un Systems and D3, The Adventures of Darwin is a strategy/simulation that borrows ideas from Nintendo’s Pikmin, and then applies a good deal of its own gameplay elements to round out the experience. While this game is just another title that will likely fly well below the radar of most gamers, it is actually not that bad, and many gamers will find that they can have some fun with it.

The Adventures of Darwin begins when Darwin the monkey has a prophetic dream about an apocalyptic future event. He urges his tribe to help him as he tries to discover ways to evolve, and hopefully survive. He begins with four followers, and they set out to gather food, resources, and evolutionary items from the surrounding territory. The force expands, of course, but only by collecting the yellow stars that are scattered about, and often guarded by nasty creatures.

The gameplay is very similar to Pikmin, where the player controls one character who, in turn, controls the others. Darwin can interact with most any item, animal, or structure he encounters, ordering his troops to perform the appropriate action in each case. These loyal followers will align themselves into various formations to fight hostiles, collect resources, and blaze paths for their fearless leader, as long as there are enough of them to meet the tasks’ minimum manpower requirements. Rather than sending them to return items to the village on their own, though, Darwin must accompany his minions all the time. These frequent trips back to the village become slightly annoying, as they really break up the action, and slow the pace of the entire game.

The game is divided into two separate portions. There is the real-time hunting, gathering, and exploring phase, where all of the action occurs, and there is the village area, where Darwin can visit the various buildings that pop up as wood, stone, and iron are gathered. Each time items are brought back from the field, the entire village progresses toward reaching the next level. When that happens, usually a new building or two will pop up, offering a mix of useful and useless services and information. Some upgrades include a weapon shop, a mess hall to restore health, and resource houses that focus the civilization on one of the three building materials. The unfortunate part is that as the town gains experience, there is no clear indicator of just what is in the works at any given time – until it shows up.

Because the primary goal of the game is to evolve Darwin’s society, it stands to reason that the most important part of the game is acquiring specific evolution items. These tools are guarded by each level’s boss character, who is usually and excellent monkey/caveman killer. Once he is defeated and the group secures the evolution item, the tribe advances to the next evolutionary level, learns a new formation, and gains a new ability. These abilities always help to unlock more territory for exploration, creating a chain of a events leading to the ultimate success of the civilization.

Visually, The Adventures of Darwin fails to impress. As a matter of fact, the first thing that many players will notice about the game is that its graphics are horrible. Really, it looks like the lovechild of first-generation N64 and Playstation games. The same textures are repeated over and over, so different portions of each area look much the same. Everything is pretty blurry and detail-free, too, making it difficult to discern exactly what little Darwin and friends may come upon in their adventures. This is particularly troubling when you think an enemy is a rock, and instead of getting a valuable piece of building material to aide your community, you get a bitch-slap to your apeish lips.

Much like the graphics, the game’s audio is very rudimentary. The primal drum patterns and pleasant midi tunes aren’t bad, and may even be sort of catchy, but there is really very little variety here. The best is when the track comes to the end, and there is a hiccup as it loops back to the beginning of the track. Besides that, the sound effects used for Darwin’s tribe and its enemies are very generic, and possibly bothersome – depending on the player’s tolerance for such things.

The Adventures of Darwin is a game that puts forth a good effort to be innovative, trying out some new twists on existing gameplay mechanics. The poor graphics and sound aside, it doesn’t do a terrible job at delivering a somewhat enjoyable experience. A couple of tweaks, and this game could’ve been very solid. Not bad for 20 bucks.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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