Multiwinia: Survival of the Flattest Review
Multiwinia is, at first glance, a relatively simple RTS that employs a Tron-like visual style to depict a world of constantly warring and spawning computerized entities. Multiwinia operates in the shadow of its predecessor, Darwinia. However, where Darwinia provided an interesting take on a certain kind of RTS gameplay, Multiwinia adds nothing great to that formula, and sadly makes some wrong steps in the process.
Multiwinia sets out its basic principles and never changes them. You are the guide and would-be savior of a software program, a network full of other malicious programs and entities. Multiwinia takes this simple plot (carried over from Darwinia) and does nothing with it, besides set it in a multiplayer arena.
As the leader of your Darwinians, you must do constant battle with AI and human opponents. The scenarios you encounter are all pretty simple: from King of the Hill, to variations on attack and defend, there aren't many scenarios you'll be unfamiliar with in this game.
Your Lemming-like minions will spawn from glowing spawn points, which must be controlled by enough of your Darwinians to be productive. This tactic is employed in almost every environmental interaction: if there is a building, item, tool, or magical tree (in one case), the way to interact with it is to crowd it with your followers.
This also applies to all supply drops, which appear from time to time, ala Worms, to aid whoever reaches the drop site first. The items can range from power-ups, like a small group of commandoes, to vehicles, to missiles. All items are either limited by time, amount, or damage taken. It's rare that you'll keep items until the end of a round, and if you do, you're either doing something wrong or very right.
Unfortunately, the situations that I have just described are the entirety of Multiwinia. There's none of the more intimate combat seen in Darwinia, and that game's intriguing command system is completely absent. In Multiwinia, you point and click and repeat.
This wouldn't be a problem if the rest of the game were able to hold your interest. Sadly, the only interesting thing about Multiwinia is its presentation. For a while, it's easy to be distracted by the game's flat, angular landscape, filled with teeming block people. When this all too short period ends, you'll see Multiwinia for what it truly is, a game that is just as simple as it looks, and even in its simplicity, cannot master the tasks it has set before itself.
It's barely worth mentioning the story, as the developers plainly focused on gameplay and setting above all other concenrs. This also means that when you begin to realize that the matches you'll engage in are frustratingly similar and uninteresting, you've reached the end of Multiwinia's appeal. There aren't any complicated or new ideas to be found in the later stages of this game, and its lack of depth stops players from unlocking or discovering more advanced strategies. You throw your armies at each other, play King of the Hill over and over, and it never really strikes you as fun.
It's a shame, because simple RTS's have the capability to provide interesting and rewarding experiences to people (like myself) who might not otherwise dabble in such games. However, if this is what simplicity is, I'll pass on it. Depth doesn't have to go out the window with complexity, as so many games have shown. I'd much rather Introversion had focused their efforts on expanding and refining Darwinia, or creating a different kind of game in that same world. But this isn't an article about what I wish Multiwinia had been. It isn't a bad game, not at first, and surely it will find some fans out there. Before you do, try the demo, and even then it would be best to tread carefully.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 60%.