Darwinia is one of my favorite games of all time. So it gets an obvious reccomendation from me. There is a lot going on with Darwinia and I've never played anything like it. It's one of those types of games that is really hard to describe, and you can only really understand after playing it for a bit. It's a weird game to get into at first. But once you get past the first two or so levels and understand what's going on it really takes off.
So basically what's going on with this game is your thrown into a level, and your given a few goals to complete the level. There are a lot of different objectives in the game, but most of the time your goal is to kill all the enemies on the map, and move your little Darwinians to key locations. What's really nice about the levels is all tools the game gives you tie in together in really clear ways. You make soilders to kill enemies and create souls, the engineers retrieve the souls and bring them to the soul collector to generate new darwininans, and the Darwinians interact with the map and you don't have direct control over them. It all comes together really well.
My favorite part about the game though is how much freedom you get. It sounds weird but let me explain. Darwinia perfectly lets you experience it at your own pace, and in your own way. There's so many ways to handle each situation in the game, and you're encouraged to handle it any way you want to. You can be super effiecient and try to carefully mine every enemies' soul, or you can do things more crazy and charge in with air strikes. Both are valid strategies in Darwinia. You can try spam engineers to take over a semi-hostile base and raise hell from inside the enemy territory, or you can enter from the shores and work your way in. The game doesn't care which way you do it. Nothings timed, nothings scored. And I love that. Because if you had a score, or a time limit it means you'd have to play the game in the most effient way, but without those things I felt more encouraged to try out crazier ideas, or ideas that I knew were just stupid, but its ok because it's fun. And that's what Darwinia encourages. It's all free. But it's more than just that. The game let's you jump into and out of levels at anytime and it you'll be able to jump right back into exactly where you left off instantly. You can acess more than one level at once so if you get bored or stuck on one level, you can jump out and start working on another level. It's great! Probably my absolute favorite part about Darwinia is how free the camera is, and that's a really weird thing to say, but lemme explain. The camera in Darwinia is very free. You can move it to any location, and look at anything from almost any angle. It's almost like a camera you'd see in an editor of some sort. But it really really works in Darwinia. Because the camera is so free it really makes the game feel like a world that's actively happening, and you're just interacting with it. Almost like a little toybox world, or at least that's how it makes me feel anyway.
With the camera, and entire game giving you so much freedom, and a lot of the units do things on their own in this game, ontop of the very simple art style(which is perfect for this game), and the great ambience the sounds create, I felt like I could get really immersed into game. I liked to put the camera at dramatic angles and imagine all sorts of adventures and stories as things were happening. I've taken more screenshots in this game than any other. So basically what I'm getting at, is if you like to imagine weird stuff or like to get really immersed into a game both strategically and artistically, then this game does the trick.
And the game has a level editor and mod creator. Yeah. ♥♥♥♥in sweet. This is one of those games that I have NO idea why this isn't more popular. And the story is really weird and cool. And it's really existential and you are an active part of the story... like you the person sitting at their computer, not you the player in the game. It's a bit weird, and I didnt really understand what was going on for awhile. But I really like that kind of stuff so the plot I really really liked.
So final reccomendations: Definity get this game. It's amazing. It really really appeals to what I like personally, so you probably wont think it's the most amazing thing like I do, but I think you'll definitly have fun. Don't get it if you don't think you'll be able to handle the controls. Darwinia can also be really weird difficult to understand at first so if you're not willing to do that, then you probably wont enjoy it either.
Anyway, love this game. Personal favorite. And it's $10. So no excuses. That's less than a movie, or dinner at a nice restaurant.