DreamHack Montreal 2k17 has come and gone, along with my crippling bout of food poisoning, but thankfully enough on Sunday I was able to make my way around the event floor to get my hands on an absolute gem of an Indie game, The Darwin Project. The Darwin project is currently being developed by Scavengers Studios and we were lucky enough to get a chance to play the pre pre-Alpha version of the game and chat with Simon, one of the co-founders over at Scavenger Studios, who is currently working on the game. We have an exclusive interview with some of the minds from Scavenger Studios and it will most likely be posted in one of the upcoming episodes of Not Another Gaming Podcast, so make sure you subscribe on literally any podcast medium out there.
I’ll jump right into my experience with The Darwin Project, some of my main takeaways, and what I look forward to in the finished product. Shuffling sickly in a light headed woozy state of mind, I found myself chatting with Simon about the conversations he had with Dom the day prior and how everyone was telling me The Darwin Project was right up my alley. I take my seat and within just a few minutes all 8 spots are filled up and the match is about the begin. Not for nothing but I was kind of out of it at the time and didn’t read too much into the control manual put right in front of me so I just learned on the go and had to wing it. I start cutting down trees, make some arrows, set up a fire for warmth and see another fire off in the distance. I crouch my way up the hill behind to try to get the drop on whoever may have started the fire and when I turn the corner…..they’re gone. I drop down a nearby ledge to hack up a chair to gather some leather and see an arrow fly by my face, immediately turn, fire back and
The devs and some of the nearby convention goers start OOOOOOOING and at that point I realized my gameplay was being displayed on the larger screen for others to view. I smashed a few glass nip bottles, taped them to my knuckles and actually became Liam Neeson. I tried to climb the ledge and chase my prey down, but ultimately they got away. I continued to scavenge resources to craft more arrows, occasional fires and equip fur clothing to stay warm until finally coming in contact with two other players duking it out under a ledge I was perched upon. Strategically, I decided to let one kill the other and swoop in to finish off the last one and loot both of the bodies. Minutes passed as I continued to gather resources and people began to drop left and right, zones became closed off until it was just two of us left in the middle sector of the map. A flurry of arrows were sent back and forth with a few hitting each of us here and there. Whenever one of us was withing range, axes were heaved until finally I landed a cheeky finishing blow arrow body shot. VICTORY! I stood up and flexed in front of everyone at the booth, and honestly I’m pretty sure a few more passerby’s stopped to soak in my glory. I was then invited back to the Victor’s Showdown later on the day where I got my shit pushed in by people who I can only assume were playing the game the entire weekend, because they were pulling off shit I have never seen before.
The graphics are a beautiful mixture of brightly pixelated cell shadings flowing with glowing oranges of the sun against crisp white snowy landscapes. The gameplay is simplistic in the sense that it is easy to pick up and play, but there are so many more elements to survival and ultimately being the last man standing that makes the experience worth playing. Resource management is just as key to triumph as being able to think quickly on your toes and hit a mid air arrow at a charging enemy. The combat is smooth, and the level design and overall aesthetic is gorgeous. We only got a chance to play one of the characters of the Darwin Project, but from further research and just general gaming knowledge, I figured out there will be more playable characters, which hopefully can vary with weapons, abilities or even health and speed statuses. It also seems like the crew over at Scavenger Studios seems to be going by a, “customization is king”, mindset with what seems to be a ton of way to gear your character aesthetically. From what I saw, outfits could be changed along with your weapons…in my second playthrough I was running around with a snow shovel for an axe.
Before I get into what I will be hoping for in the more updated versions of The Darwin Project, let me again reiterate, THIS WAS PRE PRE ALPHA GAMEPLAY, so these could have literally been fixed in between Saturday and today. The wildlife seemed pretty sparse, I only happened upon 3 deer to kill and gather fur from, so ideally in the finished product the environments seem a little more lively. I mean hell, it would be incredible if they threw in say a pack of wolves to one zone and a grizzly to another that if encountered and killed could give a crazy time sensitive buff. Also, I think the crafting wheel is a good application in principle for the current state of the game when it comes to quickly choosing something to make and doing it, but if at any point they want to add new items that are craftable, that wheel may get pretty clustered pretty quickly. It may be beneficial to give players the option of personalizing a Craft Items bar that could be moved around the screen to best fit their playstyle, possibly horizontally for the bottom of the screen, or vertically for the left or right side. Other than that, I cannot wait to continue playing The Darwin Project and look forward to the tentative release date of Spring 2018. [Keep This Game On Your Radar]