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Retrospective: Darwinia

EDGE - Darwinia is obviously a love-letter to videogame culture, but it’s also a part of it. It doesn’t just doff its cap to a catalogue of adored classics, it undertakes to capture what made them great within its own mechanics. So your Death Squads are controlled exactly as your men in Cannon Fodder were, and hurling digital grenades into bleeping knots of the Virus has all the tactile appeal of that game’s gratifyingly simple massacres. The Virus itself bears obvious visual similarities to the antagonists of David Braben’s ’80s groundbreaker of the same name, but more importantly it also poses the same sinister threat: no one part of it is formidable, but the volume and voracity of the whole constantly threatens to overwhelm. And a less visual nod to Lemmings – the mechanic by which you command the otherwise aimless Darwinians by promoting a few to direct the rest – pulls the same miraculous trick of making you care for something simply because it refuses to be your puppet.

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