In what already seems a heavily populated genre lead by Fortnite, thd Battle Royale scene is becoming an extremely vicious cycle for new games as they struggle to compete with Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. So innovation is the now the key to unlocking a gap in the market, something Scavengers Studio hopes it can achieve with Darwin Project.
Set on rocky Canadian soil, Darwin Project pitches 10 players against one another and one Show Director who can spice things up and control the game as a god-like spectator. Initially you enter a waiting lobby similar to both PUBG and Fortnite so you can size up your competitors. The game then launches with players spawned in random quandrants on the map with nothing but an axe and bow without arrows.
You’ll need to gather materials quickly such as wood or the more rarer find of electronics which everyone will be competing for as its a random location shown to everyone on the mini-map. In gaining electronics you’ll gain a permanent boost such as temporary camouflage, invincibility or construct a turret that will fire arrows at nearby players. These are your best drops and will likely aid you being the victor.
So how does this differ to Fortnite and PUBG? Well gameplay wise, matches tend to last about 10-15 minutes as the map size is a lot smaller and draws a lot more close quarter combat into the mix. It also feels more frantic as you can sneak into shacks and see where everyone is, which basically means there’s little way of hiding in a bush to be the last one left. You can try it, but it will result in instant death.
The limitation of 2 weapons: your axe and trusty bow also help to make the game feel like a barebones survival romp, as you either go in close and personal with a long axe or try to hit a pinpoint headshot with the difficult-to-learn bow. Personally, I like the choice of only 2 weapons as it immediately rules off the element of players “getting lucky” on loot pickups.
Another thing I really enjoyed about Darwin Project were the game lengths. Each match is an adrenaline pumping race to victory. Once completed, whether you win or die, you can jump straight into the next one. There’s also unlikely to be any nerves held from your last game as the pace of the game mean it’s quickly forgotten.
If playing isn’t for you then I highly recommend diving into the Show Director’s mode where you can control the game by granting a competitor temporary invincibility or landing an airstrike in a heavily populated quadrant. Sometimes it an feel a little biased when you have a director appearing to team with one player and more often than not they will win because the tools at the Directors disposal is too powerful to repel.
In terms of future, I don’t believe Darwin Project can hold on its own against the two big boys, but it’s still a title worth checking out in the Battle Royale genre. This is one of the good games in the genre amongst many which are trash or copycat clones. It tries to standout with new ideas in a crowded field and I admire that from Scavengers Studio.
We will be revisiting Darwin Project once it emerges from Xbox Game Preview with a full review to read.