Darwin Project is one of the latest battle royale games to arrive on the scene. At first thought, it would seem the genre is becoming over saturated and yet each game I have played has been different, bringing forth their own unique characteristics and features. The same can be said for Darwin Project, it’s a cross of some of the titles that came before it whilst also delivering fresh mechanics and feeling somewhat like The Hunger Games.

What plays out is effectively a reality tv show in which ten people will be trapped inside a controlled area and be forced to kill their opposing participants in hopes to be the last one standing. This show has come about because of an overpopulation issue in the Northern Canadian Rockies in a post-apocalyptic setting.

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Currently there are two ways to experience the Darwin Project, either as one of the ten players who face off against each other or play as the Show Director. The former is straight forward, spawn in with a melee weapon and a bow with few arrows. Scavenge, craft and survive. Nothing new there, it’s the same basic formula at its core but has then been expanded upon.

Once a game commences the strategy is to gain as much resources as possible which can then be used to either craft armour, equipment or powers. It feels like a mad rush and there’s a looming sense of threat at all times. Your mind is forced to think consciously about not only enemies, but your health, warmth, armour levels, weapon sharpness, boots, cloaks and more. It’s all a balancing act and it really is fun to experiment with different “builds” and figure out what to use and what to upgrade and when.

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From there, it’s kill or be killed and just a note, I often got killed, I’m just not good for whatever reason. I could just blame myself, but I honestly feel melee combat is hit and miss, being a complete mess of players jumping around each other swinging their axe and hoping a hit lands. This style just doesn’t agree with me in that I find it too chaotic and luck based, fights lack structure and a sense of rules.

There are seven zones in a game, all of which can be subject to either being nuked or closed permanently, forcing the combatants to vacate the zone and reduce the available play space. The game will automatically start closing zones at certain points but the show director also has this ability. Leading to unpredictable matches time and time again. I never found myself getting bored because of this random aspect of how games can turn out.

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Being the show director is by far my favourite way to play. As the director you can try and sway the outcome of any match, controlling events and assisting players as you see fit. Think of it like you’re the scientist and the players taking part in your game are lab rats. It’s so fun to watch and listen to how the participants react to your decisions. You can close a zone, spawn electronics, replenish someone’s health and even mess with gravity. It’s a smart inclusion that not only provides another way to play but it completely changes the game in an enjoyable way, if you aren’t the greatest at PVP gaming you can still get involved.

For those looking for a different style of battle royale game, you will find it here, not as grounded as PUBG but not as complex and out there in terms of gameplay as Fortnite. Instead it plays a cool in between and allows varying types of players to get in on the action. I would prefer more maps and character customisation stuff but all in due time. It’s nice to see the evolution of the genre and this is a nice step.

Previewed by Rhys Baldwin.

(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a preview copy of Darwin Project, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)

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