Combining fast-paced action with strategic battle planning, Darwinia features a novel and intuitive control mechanism, a graphical style ripped from 80's retro classics like Tron and Defender, and a story concerning a tribe of nomadic sprites trapped in a modern 3D world.
User reviews: Very Positive (287 reviews)
Release Date: Jul 14, 2005

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Recommended By Curators

"Its hapless pixel people seem that much more alive than any hyper-detailed space marine, as they totter and wobble and scatter and die."
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About This Game

Combining fast-paced action with strategic battle planning, Darwinia features a novel and intuitive control mechanism, a graphical style ripped from 80's retro classics like Tron and Defender, and a story concerning a tribe of nomadic sprites trapped in a modern 3D world.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux

    Recommended: Windows XP, 600MHz CPU, 128MB RAM, DX7 based video card

    • OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later.
    • Processor: Intel Core Duo 1.66GHz+
    • Memory: 1GB of RAM
    • Graphics: 64MB of video memory
    • Hard Drive:
    • Processor: 1.66Ghz
    • Memory: 1Gb
    • Graphics: 64Mb of memory
    • Hard Drive: 60Mb
Helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
It's fun!

The retro, polygonal graphics, (tasteful) chiptune soundtrack, and overall atmosphere are really interesting to experience. The gameplay is fun in a non-frustrating way - it's hard to get into a position where you lose, and even if you aren't employing the optimal strategy for a level, given enough time, you will be able to beat each stage in different ways. I rarely got frustrated with this game and never really felt bored, even though a lot of the gameplay isn't necesarilly that complex. The story doesn't dominate the experience, but the brief sections where you learn more about Darwinia are definitely rewarding.

Overall, all these little details don't really matter in the face of the fact that I constantly was entertained while playing this game and never really felt bad, something that even modern games don't necesarilly provide.

If you're expecting a complex RTS, this is not that game. Think of it as more of "digital weeding", as you slowly and carefully purge the viruses through each stage using a variety of tools.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
17.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 31
I received this game as part of a Humble Bundle and it's a great play at a low price point. If I had a problem with the game, it's the same as many people: it's too short. Otherwise, it's a perfect little arcade-puzzler that will engross and entertain you for a few hours.
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15 of 26 people (58%) found this review helpful
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 30
Have you ever thought "I really like RTS games, but jeez, I really wish I could find one where my units have absolutely no sense of self-preservation, unimaginably bad pathfinding, and need to be micromanaged so hard I'll be able to mention this game when I apply for babysitting jobs"?

Well, Darwinia is the game for you!

With amazing features, like

- Units that, when selected, don't attack enemies!
- The inability to select multiple units!
- Not using the right mouse button at all!
- Resource gathering units that will straight-up run into patches of enemies!
- Units that, when given a move command, will go to that point in a straight line and STOP if they run into any obstacle!
--- Hope you like hunting around the map for those reinforcements that should have been here already!
--- Is that enemy at the top of a mountain? Sorry!
- Units with bizarre controls, like:
--- Left click to select
--- Left click to move
--- Left click and hold to to special action 1
--- Left click and hold near the unit to do special action 2
------ Also, we define any click longer than 2 microseconds as a "Click and Hold"!
- A turret unit that you can deploy that requires 4 of your units to operate!
--- But once you put four units in there, you can't take them back out!
--- Or undeploy the turret!
--- Don't worry, though, because your units will randomly exit and reenter the turret every couple of seconds! Even during battle!
--- Also, you can't control where the turret fires! And it does damage to friendly units!
------ Did we mention resource gatherers will run straight at enemy groups without any regard for their life?
--- And, it's inexplicably easy for enemy units to kick your guys out and take control of the turret!
- Not to mention a research system that is basically just waiting!



Don't buy this game.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 10
Great game that can bring you hours of enjoyment. The controls are a little wonky and there is a slight learning curve but once you get past that, you realize how amazing the game really is. The story is great and the worlds are beautiful and the retro style graphics paired with the old school techno, make it that much better. I do believe for a 9 year old game though, the price is a little steep at $10. If you can find it on sale, I say go for it!

8/10
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
13.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 26
A very strange RTS game, you don´t control any bases instead you control some units to manipulate agents in the map and killing threats , the A.I sometimes is very dumb and can be sligtly frustrating but the plot is very interesting. At firts it´s hard to grasp on it, but once you understand it it becomes easy and manegable, Recomended only if you are pacient and looking for a non-conventional RTS. / Un RTS muy extraño, no controlas bases, en vez de eso controlas unidades para manipular ag entes en el mapa y matar amenzas, la I.A puede ser muy tonta lo que resulta algo frustrante pero la trama es bastante interesante. Al principio es dificil entenderle, pero ya que le entiendes es sencillo y manejable. Recomendado si eres paciente y quieres una experiencia distinta a un RTS convencional
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
14.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 30
If you like the retro-graphics, don't mind micromanaging dumb units in RTS as the primary gameplay, and get this on sale (I got it for like $1.45 with Multiwinia during the 2014 Exploration sale) then you'll probably like it fine. Otherwise you probably won't.

The game definitely pays tribute to Tron and other such digital-grid visual experiences.
Regarding Tron, anybody else notice the bombers for airstrikes in this game are called "Invaders"? Heh.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
13.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 18
A minimalist world but engaging. I felt very protective of my little green icons. There were times that I would restart a level if I had unacceptable losses.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 19
Played a really old demo back in 2005 and still remember the amazement I had playing this. Surprised it was still being develpoed. It is a simple game with an engaging story. The retro design depends on the players taste but for the game, it represents the birthplace of the Darwinians. Even bought it on Steam Sale. Woohoo! Merry Christmas.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
10.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 9
It could have been much more, but it still is really good. What I mean is, it lacks complexity that I wish there was in the game.

If you like what it looks like you will probably like how it plays.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: September 22
Even though it is an RTS game, it reminds me of god-games.
It might be the setting or the 'story', I'm not sure.
It doesn't have a multiplayer mode (however, a separate multiplayer game called "Multiwinia" exists).

What it does do, however, is mixing genres into something both unique and enjoyable.
It doesn't fail to create an interesting atmosphere, mainly due to the soundtrack, which reminds me of Introversion's later title "DEFCON".
Not having humans but rather "abstract virtual digital lifeforms" who can't speak and who don't have any emotions (or do they?) probably adds to that fact, along with the "cyber-world" that you play on/in, which does have water, hills et al, but, after all, also has a digitalized and abstract look-and-feel.

The featured game mechanics were not surprising, but overall very enjoyable.
Along with an intuitive control mechanism the game was easy to handle.

The included "loaders" (intro animations) are a nice gimmick.
One of them parodies a typical 80s crack intro that looked so authentic, a steam employee believed there had been a compromise and thus delayed the game's Steam release.

In the end, I hope you have realized how this isn't your normal off-the-shelf strategy game.
You might want to go watch some gameplay videos on your favourite video platform to check if you can cope with the game's style.
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 21
Pros!
  • Lovely graphics and colours
  • A good idea
  • Nice camera controls

Cons!
  • The tutorial is not a tutorial! More like 10 minutes of pressing 'H' and reading lines and lines of help suggestions
  • Really annoying sound effects
  • Unable to select more than one unit at once?!?!
  • Clunky controls for moving units
  • Units struggle to path-find along a straight line, nevermind corners and obstacles!
  • Units don't fire by themselves, yet randomly play the shooting sound when you're not looking?
  • Bullets bouncing on uneven terrain makes shooting very awkward given most of the map is mountainous
  • First level is very very boring, and doesn't really explain anything about the troops themselves.
    For instance, what happens when the engineers collect 10 orbs? They just sit around like potatoes being useless?

If these issues are fixed, I will happily recommend this game. Until then, nope!
Also minor quarrel is that if you go near the ground, the texture is very blurry. Considering that the texture is just triangles, it would be nice if they were more crisp!
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2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
9.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 12
ну ребята тута даже сказать нечего, такие гранаты, такие пикселы тут, тут такой касперский бля, такие полигоны торчат, всё ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ взрывается, дарвинианцы орут, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ец, короче
Релизд бэк ин 2005 еар зис гейм кипс вайбс оф лонг лост эйдж, вен геймерс хэд нью хау ту плей нот онли прити мач айдентикал бурые паркурные дристосы все эти с какими-нибудь рпг элементами, бат реал тайм стратеджи геймс! Ивин бэк зен, ит лукс аутстендинг, соу итс тотал оусомнес тудэй из гоуз визаут сэйнинг. Дарвиния из абсолютли юник - бэд сингс мейк ит онли бетер. Плей ит энд ю вил андерстенд!
Еще тут можно вызвать авиаудар на голову какающего осьминога.
Короче покупайте играйте, ну, вы-то полюбому играли все уже на ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥е, но надо больше покупать игры интровершн, чтобы они скорее перестали свою новую игру эту, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ аршитект, из бумажки, клеить, чтобы им снова денег на полигоны хватило и свои нормальные начали бы игры мутить. Ну или если кто не играл тоже обязательно сыграйте.
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34 of 36 people (94%) found this review helpful
24.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 19
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.
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18 of 18 people (100%) found this review helpful
Posted: August 17, 2013
Hard to describe this game, apart from it being so damn good and unique.

It has a lemmings feel to it. Great hacker vibe. Challenging. Great style. Amazingly fun mechanics that you just have to try to convince yourself.

Try to survive and evolve.

pixels/10
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13 of 14 people (93%) found this review helpful
10.9 hrs on record
Posted: September 26, 2013
The lackluster trailer, uninspiring description, and graphically deficient screenshots for Darwinia made me gloss over this game for years. And for whatever reason, I decided to give it a test drive. The game does not disappoint. It's a really fun, simplistic RTS. The developers have stripped out all the typical complexities of a traditional RTS and provide extremely intuitive controls making it manageable fun that does not overwhelm. The story is quite good as well--a creative evolution of a digital species. Very enjoyable.
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13 of 14 people (93%) found this review helpful
21.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 22
Darwinia is hard to describe. It's part RTS, part god game one could say. You are in charge of protecting and restoring the Darwinian population, however you can't directly control them, although the officer tool does make up for that fact. Instead you spawn in several programs to assist the little guys in order to destroy the red virus that has infected their world.

The gameplay is pretty solid, and becomes massively fun during the fights where you get to utilize your Darwinians. Having two massive forces collide and duke it out while you influence the battle field with your programs is something not many games capture too well.

Speaking of the Darwinians, they are the stars of this game. They are important for manning buildings, turrets, and eventually the main fighting force at your disposal. They have a few things they do that adds a nice little touch, such as jumping into the air when a mission is complete, or mourning over the loss of a fallen comrade. The story brags about how smart these guys are, but they don't do much that isn't scripted. They really come to life in battle however, their digital screams, panic, and blaring war trumpets and marching tunes give them character.

The story is servicable, although nothing groundbreaking. They thankfully allow you to skip through it if you aren't that interested, although I soaked in as much as I could. If your a sap like me, you'll grow fond of the little guys, otherwise the gameplay should suffice.

All in all, the game is great fun and a blast to play. It took me around 6 hours to beat on one playthrough. Beating it will give you a level editor to muck around in and another profile with all locations enabled, so you can edit to your heart's content. Some would argue it's a little short, and I feel like it could have a few more levels, but what it does offer is more than worth it's price tag.
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13 of 14 people (93%) found this review helpful
12.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 19
An absolutely wonderful casual game. You dont need the latest and greatest hardware to play this one on the road. It doesn't eat your laptop's battery for breakfast. The 8-bit sound track is awesome, gives it that retro feel, it only enhances the game play. As for the graphics, love the volumetric effects and the old looking shadow effects. Very engaging, on the edge of your seat as you get attacted from all sides just trying to keep ahead of the battle.

Bought this originally on CD-ROM when it came out. I'm glad Steam released it on OS X. Brings back the early 2000's.

10/10
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11 of 11 people (100%) found this review helpful
51.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 18
I don't know what compelled me to even buy this since I can't stand RTS games generally, but it didn't take long before Darwinia became one of my all-time favorites. Something in the way it's presented just made sense to me, and I found the context to be especially endearing.

Part of what really appealed to me was how simple and straightforward everything was: soldiers shoot stuff, engineers build stuff, etc. Even the upgrade options, in the context of file updates (v2.0), made everything feel more accessible. The game code is mercifully stable for an "indie" game and I found myself wasting hours defeating every last enemy and making sure that every uninhabited piece of land was repopulated. I frequently found myself rooting for individual scouts and soldiers that bravely out-maneuvered their enemies. It really says something about a game that can make you feel so attached to its literal pixels.

The excellent score and sound effects coupled with the game's relaxingly retro aesthetic have proven great for replayability, making Darwinia a world I'm happy to revisit often. 9/10.
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8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
20.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 22
"Fascinatingly charming" is how I'd describe this game. The retro graphics are vaguely evocative of Tron, and the enemies and characters are all subtle references/homages to video games and video game culture of the mid-to-late 80s and early 90s. There are Spiders and Centipedes reminiscent of Centipede, the Engineers which are evocative of Recognizers from Tron, even the Bombers that respond to Air Strike beacons look like they're right out of Space Invaders.

The Darwinians themselves are adorable. Though they have no animations and are simple 2D sprites in a 3D world, they manage to demonstrate a lot of personality. From the little mourning kites they release when souls ascend to the Central Repository, to the way Officer Darwinians chant out a marching cadence when issuing a "Follow Me" order, to the screams of horror and pain Darwinians have when terrorized with explosive weaponry and laser fire, you can't help but feel a little for the little guys.

As far as gameplay goes, it's very intuitive and usually pretty solid, some camera wonkiness aside. Managing a Squad is simple (Everything you can do aside from secondary-weapon switching is handled with two buttons) and intelligent use of Squads forms the cornerstone of gameplay. The game doesn't punish you for failure - replacing Squads is as easy as hitting F1, then clicking within a valid spawning area. You're encouraged to replace your Squaddies often and try out different tactics to accomplish your goals. All of the other units you can control are similarly uncomplicated, and the game gives you plenty of room to learn without holding your hand and beating you over the head with forced tutorials.

Darwinia encourages freedom of choice and lateral thinking in ways I haven't seen a lot of games do - stages are frequently nonlinear and the objectives can be accomplsihed in any order. Often times, you're simply thrown into a stage and challenged to figure out your own method for victory. Do you burmush your objectives or methodically wipe out the virus infestation between you and your target? Do you take your foes head-on, or can you sneak an Engineer around to a different comm port and use it as a second beachhead? Do you carefully avoid enemies in order to get a shot on a particularly annoying foe unopposed, or do you just carve your way in?

All in all, Darwinia's one of the most refreshing tactical games I've had the pleasure of playing, and I heartily recommend it for anyone who enjoys a little old school nostalgia, adorable faux-retro graphical charm, and solid gameplay.
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7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 25, 2013
Let me start off by saying that this is in my top ten favorite games of all time. Darwinia's a cool retro-style game about a digital world populated by little people called Darwinians, who are under siege by a dangerous computer virus. Under the instructions of Darwinia's creator, you have to help get rid of the virus and restore Darwinia to it's fully-funtional self.
The whole time playing I thought I had the ending figured out, I thought it was going to end on some lame twist where Darwinia's actually Earth or something. But no, it actually ended very originally, and on an extremely bitter-sweet note.
My only complaint, and it's really a minor one, is that for a game called "Darwinia" it's not very Darwinian. I was expecting a lot of heavy symbolism reflecting Charles Darwin's Theories of Evolution, but there's only a few, very subtle, nods to evolution where you can upgrade the troops of Darwinia. In fact the game's sequel "Multiwinia" is more Darwinian, since the Darwinians are battling eachother for supremacy.
There's actually more symbolism for religion than anything else. But don't be alarmed by that, the symbols are very subtle. And even then the symbolism is actually really good, the symbolism helps the message it tries to convey, which I won't tell you, because it would spoil the ending. Just trust me it's a really good and interesting message.
I can't recommend this game or the team behind it enough. I've never seen anything like Darwinia, and I'd say you should check it out too.
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