If you turned up at our house today wearing dark glasses and a sharp suit, strapped us to a chair and demanded we single out one brilliant thing about Introversion Software's Uplink, we'd probably have to point to the game's timeless quality. Unlike, for example, all the other games we play, it wasn't reliant on hefty poly counts, bump mapping and other technical words we pretend to understand, instead offering a conspiratorial hacking game set on the internet of 2010, and a fairly enjoyable one to (re)boot.
Darwinia, which we discovered flicking through PC Gamer UK this morning, looks to be similarly timeless, and similarly imaginative. The idea is that you play a gamer inserted into a network of retro games consoles, and your job is to fight off a virus. Taken at face value it's perhaps not the most original idea (Virus and Rez certainly worked along similar lines), but once again it's the manner of execution that sets it apart.
Here, instead of fighting against "rogue circuits" or whatever, you're battling against sprites and stick-men and calling in airstrikes from squadrons of space invaders as you lead troops on a path to bringing down the virus. And instead of running around basic 3D worlds with circuit board textures in etch-a-sketch overdrive, instead you're delving in to worlds of stripped down polygons and base game elements, in battles which fall somewhere between real-time strategy and shoot-'em-up.
Frankly, you'd be doing well to keep an eye on it. It's bound to prove more interesting than the ranks of platform game ports clogging up the PC shelves in our local GAME, and any title that features an audio emulator built to translate 80s arcade sounds into Dolby-equipped environments is clearly the work of a higher being. Watch out for a big preview in the next PC Gamer (May 13th) and in the meantime Darwinia Warfront seems to be one of the most complete fan sites we've seen, with slightly more info and some snippets from the developer.
Darwinia is due out this autumn.