Review: Darwin Project
Darwin Project is a survival battle royale game. By now, you should know my love for battle royales, especially when a new entry changes up some core mechanics to make it their own. You can check out my thoughts on battle royales in why I can not get into Fortnite. Darwin Project is free and available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Steam.
Yes this is a battle royale, and the win condition is the same as others: be the last man standing.
This one plays a little differently.
What this does differently is to add a survival mechanic to the game. The world is preparing for a new ice age, so the world is frozen. While out there in the world, you have a meter that shows how cold your character is. If your meter fills all the way then you will die, due to the extreme cold, and be eliminated.
To battle the cold, you have to make a fire and stay near it until the meter comes down. You will need wood to make a fire, which you have to find by cutting down trees. Not all trees can be cut down—its only a certain kind of tree—and sometimes they can feel a little hard to come by when you are in need.
Cut down trees, get wood, make a fire, and keep on going.
Besides having to worry about other players, having to battle the cold makes for some interesting decisions. If you see another player, and want to engage in a battle, you have to make sure your meter has enough time for you to engage in battle, otherwise, you will have to decide if you want to hide and make a fire or risk it.
I have never felt more on an even playing field in any game then I do with Darwin Project. There are no weapons to be found in the game. You have an ax, and a bow and arrow, and that’s it.
That’s it for everyone.
Most of the battles are fought up close and personal with your ax, occasionally getting some distance and shooting some arrows. It’s a big change from every other battle royale, and takes some getting used to, but I welcomed this change.
A big part of this game was tracking players. Whenever you do anything in this game you leave some kind of footprint behind. Whether its crafting or chopping down a tree, if a player sees remnants of what you did they can walk up to it, hit a button, and then see where you are for a small amount of time. The game makes the player aware when they are being tracked. Tracking was fun and really helps later on in the match to get an upper hand.
A good battle royale has a good map to go with it. The map here is a little deceptive. At first, I loved it—it was different from others I've played since it was a snowy atmosphere. After playing for some time, I realized that the map was very familiar no matter where I was, and it lost its magic quickly.
The map is broken up into zones and has a total of seven zones. Instead of a shrinking map like other battle royales, this one has zones that close, forcing players into different zones until there is only one zone left. If you do make it this far, the final zone does have a more traditional shrinking area, but again that’s only if you make it to the final zone.
The design may not be the best but it did have some interesting aspects hidden away in it. As seen in the screenshot above some houses have a map inside it; the map shows all the player’s locations in the game. It’s a helpful thing to stumble upon. Another fun aspect of the map is you can find a portal. There are portals on the edge of the map that will instantly warp you across the map.
Every game has a player controlled game director. After you reach level five, instead of queuing up for a normal match, you can queue up to be the director. This game mode was a big let down to me and I didn’t spend much time in it because of that. The director has a deck of cards that they bring into the match and each card has a different action.
As the director, you are basically just spectating the entire match, while making a few decisions. Over time you earn action points and can spend them on your cards. Even though you have the action points to spend, you have to try to not play all your cards early on. They do not come back as the match goes on, so once you use them, that’s it. The first director match I played, I ran out of cards early and just sat there watching. The biggest decision you get to make as the director is picking which zone to close. If you use all your cards to close a zone, zones will still close, but it will be at random, not your choice.
Darwin Project is a fun take on both a survival game and a battle royale. The map gets old quickly, and the director mode is a miss, but there is still plenty of fun to be had here. This is a free-to-play game so there is no reason to not give it a try. I recommend this one and give it a thumbs up. Jump in there and survive the cold.