Darwinia is an award-winning Action Adventure / Real Time Strategy game about a Magical Computer that runs a simulated world called Darwinia. The inhabitants of the world, called Darwinians, are docile green stick figures that each have their own unique digital soul. This is all part of a research project on artificial intelligence, or something.When the player connects to the Darwinia server, the world has been hit by an infection of a very nasty computer virus and Dr Sepulveda, the scientist responsible for creating Darwinia, is at his wit's end and starting to seriously consider wiping out the whole project, and two decades of research just to stop the virus. The player showing up gives him hope that his digital world can be saved.Over the course of the game, the player visits a number of unique locations, with Dr Sepulveda giving pieces of history for Darwinia in most of them. Towards the end of the game, some very nasty forms of the virus are encountered, one of which can actually destroy the souls of Darwinians.The game was praised for its retro-inspired graphics and unique-but-intuitive control scheme, but sold terribly due to its retro-inspired graphics and unique-but-intuitive control scheme.Introversion Software has since made a multi-player sequel called Multiwinia. It has also been released on Xbox Live Arcade as Darwinia+, combining the basic game, the rocket level that served as the second game demo (now considered an epilogue), and Multiwinia.
This game provides examples of:
All There in the Manual: The official website for the game has a collection of fictional articles "written" by people from Dr. Sepulveda's universe. They explain the Backstory in greater detail and also explore various ramifications Darwinia could have on society.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can only control 3 programs (controllable units) at the start of the game, and can upgrade it to a maximum of 5.
Artificial Stupidity: Programs only attempt to move in straight lines. They will happily run up an unclimbable slope (and stay there forever), or right into a wall of instant death. Justified by the fact that you're supposed to treat your programs like action game protagonists, not like RTS units.
Darwinians can climb slopes, no matter how steep, but will often get stuck on bodies of water and occasionally get stuck on buildings.
Badass Normal: The Darwinians themselves, once they get weapons, can hold their ground with quite ease and blow minor viruses out of the system. That is, until the computer starts rolling in jumping spiders.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: Infected Darwinians can take over Armor (in battle cannon mode) the player has set up for the regular Darwinians.
Big Creepy-Crawlies: Most of The Virus could count as a digital version. Do not zoom in if you're arachnophobic.
Bug War: The plot can basically be seen as this in a computer. Played straight to the point where you can't feel any sympathy for The Virus.
Cameo: The nuclear submarines from DEFCON appear in Multiwinia.
Cannon Fodder: In Biosphere, you need to use the Darwinians to punch through the enemy waves of infected Darwinians.
Crapsack World: In Multiwinia especially. Four tribes of mutated Darwinians are in a constant state of war. No side really knows why the fight even started. Meteor showers and nuclear strikes are commonly used, to the point where "WMD" refers to something other than nukes. To top it all off, Death Is Cheap and souls come back all the time to just keep fighting, unless of course the dark forests get to them, in which case they haunt the ruins of battlefields for all of eternity.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Programs can simply be rerun for free, and getting back to where you were before is usually just an inconvenience, since any building you've reprogrammed can be used as a starting point. Dead Darwinians can be reconstituted at an incubator as long as the souls can be collected in time.
Demonic Spiders: In the form of - of course - giant spiders. They are so tough that the only way to kill them quickly is by using explosive weapons, but their favorite combat maneuver is jumping into close combat, so you have a hard time killing them without losing some of your own units to friendly fire. invoked
Due to the Dead: If you see a bunch of Darwinians get killed, chances are pretty good that you'll see a bunch of kites launched as the souls drift upwards off the playing field.
Dummied Out: Tripods. These were intended to be a ground-based version of the Spore Generators (Jellyfish).
Fan Sequel: You're encouraged to make your own once you finish the game, and some fans have made some pretty big ones.
The Fundamentalist: One of the fictional articles on the game's official website is "written" by "Jeremiah Rove", addressed to his congregation. In his passionate rant, he declares Dr. Sepulveda to be a blasphemer since he created "life" from nothing (and without a married white woman), something he believes only God can do. In retaliation, he proposes that his congregation should use Angry Mob tactics against Dr. Sepulveda and his work.
Geo Effects: Forces move slower when climbing hills, faster when going down them, shorter throws when throwing up slope, and longer throws when going downslope. Thanks, physics!
The Goomba: Virii, which are present in large numbers.
Instant-Win Condition: As long as you complete the objectives, regions can remain as infected as you want.
It Runs on Nonsensoleum: The justification for the retraux visuals is that the Darwinian world is the result of a bunch of old, notably crappy computers running in tandem as a parallel processor. Sepulveda didn't anticipate the Darwinians that eventually showed up, and was instead doing research on creating a new type of video game.
Late to the Punchline: One of the intros in the game features a parody of an intro to a cracked Amiga game. It looked so genuine that Valve thought it was real. As a result, the game's Steam release got delayed an hour until Introversion said they put that there deliberately.
Minimalist Cast: Not counting the nameless Darwinians and The Virus, Dr. Sepulveda is the only named character in the game.
Miracle Gro Monster: Viruses can "evolve" into more complex forms if left alone for too long. In addition, some viruses can consume souls and lay eggs, which spawn more viruses.
Mook Maker: Eggs are laid by Spiders and Spore Generators. Triffids are more dangerous, because they launch larger eggs from a distance if it detects any enemy.
Our Souls Are Different: Digital souls. The manual explains what a digital soul is, though the game itself says little. Suffice to say, they're as important to a Darwinian as our souls are to us.
Digital souls are basically Darwinian AI, encoded as a form of computerised DNA. The glowing, physical object is just the way the game represents that chunk of code. It mentions how the most successful souls reincarnate pretty much as-is while the less successful start fresh as a template based on the most successful, leading to a continued evolution of the Darwinian race. One level has you recapturing this template, the Pattern Buffer, from the virus.
Also, one type of virus can destroy the Darwinians' souls, leaving behind ghosts in the world.
Sequel: to Uplink. Various news stories in the first game hint towards the plot of the second, and you're implied to be a hacker, much like the ones featured in Uplink, at the beginning of Darwinia.
Some Dexterity Required: Earlier versions of the game had a complex gesture system which was replaced with a simpler menu by default.
Thank the Maker: The Darwinians consider Dr Sepulveda to be a God. They've even made statues of him after he accidentally sent his webcam video data to the Darwinia sky rendering system.
The Lifestream: The Soul Repository, which also acts as the world's power source (it provides solar energy).
The Virus: Darwinia, being a computer, has been infected by a particularly nasty one, which is responsible for all the enemies you face.
Futurwinians from Multiwinia, too. Opening a box will occasionally call in a Flying Saucer (theorized by fans to be an Uplink hacker's connection) that will abduct any Darwinians nearby and convert them into a new, silver-colored faction on the game board. These Futuwinians are created with the Mind Control Ray Mk. 2, which converts their opponents into new Futurwinians...who thanks to the mechanics of the game, also possess Mind Control Ray Mk. 2. Not fun. Curiously, the actual remnants of the Virus, while annoying if you trigger it, are just a little more powerful then beginning players.
Video Game Caring Potential: Darwinians act very eerily human-like. They explore when they're bored, they jump in the air when they're excited, they run away and scream when they're scared, and they even have funerals (specifically, if they see a soul ascending because you didn't collect it, they'll release a kite to guard it on it's way to heaven, as Dr. Sepulveda explains). It's really hard not to become attached to them.
You Require More Vespene Gas: Notably (for an RTS) averted. Digital souls act as a kind of resource, but they're only useful for creating more Darwinians. Beyond that, the only real resource is program space.