If you’ve ever imagined the anxiety of trying to keep warm, well nourished, craft weapons, dominate zones, and face off against online opponents all betting on being the last player standing – you’ve come to the right place. In Darwin Project you’ll experience a game-show style, early access battle royale game based on nature and unlike any other.
Graphically the game matches well with its themes, and manages to look different from other BR titles we’ve been seeing. There’s still the non-realistic art theme which is endearing and also provides better hardware performance while waiting for development optimizations to take place.
The game can go up to 4K HDR on PC and Xbox One X, which is definitely a plus. Lag is a non-issue as matchmaking performs very well at putting players together who can maintain a stable connection. Amazingly, you can even play this early build of the title with a weaker computer if you find yourself in a jam. Duos mode was recently added in the latest update as well, meaning now you can pair up with a friend and get into the action together! Controls could use some work, but the dev team has been great about listening to exact player feedback from the community and making lots of timely and substantial updates to the game.
A fairly large community of active players come together regularly for matches in the ever-updated title. There’s no problem jumping in quickly and approaching the nominal scale learning curve. One of the strange twists that can be found in this title is that one player takes a role of director and can give an advantage or disadvantage to each group of players in the match. Loading screens and community boards warn players that they’ll get their director privileges revoked if they use this as a way to cheat and favor one player to the end. Instead, comedic value is meant to be added. Be a funny director, not a lame director. Give the underdog a second chance, give everyone an unexpected challenge every once in a while to keep them on their feet.
The director is what really makes this game different than other crafting games, other than its battle royale rule-set. Directors will be spectating the event and speaking to everyone playing with encouragement. They’ll also be able to hear from the top players in the match who are trying their best, and sometimes ask for help. As long as it’s fair this is not a problem. The director’s role is more about keeping the playing field even and enabling everyone to have fun and make epic plays, rather than simply deny help to the top players. For this reason some discretion is required, and a bad director could likely make or break the match. In our experiences there were incredibly well balanced battles going on with both experienced and new players. Directors took their responsibility seriously and added a lot to the fun of the game.
As more materials are collected and skills are unlocked, items are crafted which can give the edge that makes the difference between suffering and victory. Clues in the environment like footsteps in the snow are used to track other players. One player may dominate a zone at any given time, but then the zone could become uninhabitable. Traps, storms, bombings, and other hazards all cascade into an action-packed battle while ten players must do everything they can to stay alive, prevent frostbite, and of course win.
So far, Steam Early Access has been very positive and the title will be available on Xbox One as well. Scavengers Studio is a close and efficient development team behind Darwin Project and while they reside in Montréal, Québec, Canada (with funding from the Canada Media Fund helping them along) this game is heavily inspired by the Northern Canadian Rockies set of mountain regions. This local flavor adds to the excitement and meaningfulness of the title, but fun factor comes first in the game.