Wot I Think: Darkspore

By Jim Rossignol on May 2nd, 2011 at 10:26 pm.


A strange beast shambles this way: Darkspore! ‘Tis the progeny of Maxis, sim-creators, and it is… an action RPG? A bold genetic strangeness, then – but is it a virile cross-breed or an inbred abomination? Let me take some time you tell you wot I think.

Having carefully poured my tea, leaned back in my luxurious recliner/desk chair, and raised my gaze to the ceiling to think about the best way of phrasing this, I can state that it’s, well, just a bit odd.

This is one of those games where two ideas were forced to mate and the resulting offspring came out with one eye bigger than the other. Moreover, its meat tastes a bit like an earlier era, when familiar systems (in this case action RPG whacking of stuff for loot) were more readily mixed with something a bit unusual (a character editor derived from that of Will Wright’s grand sim-everything life-sim, Spore). What I mean is that Darkspore feels like it was meant to be a game in the spirit of one of those brave offshoot experiments that were so much more common in the home computer eras of Spectrum and Amiga. It’s a game that’s reaching for something, something that isn’t there. What isn’t there is a soul. The thing was born without that vital spark that made it really live.


Darkspore works like this: you are a “Crogenitor”, an alien genetics wizard, who has conjured up a number of “genetic heroes” – aka monsters from Spore on with with lots of weapons, powers, and RPG-style levels – to fight the Darkspore, which are various alien fauna gone bad. Your kind – the Crogenitor – has previously been dramatically defeated by the Darkspore (a story explained via undramatic robotic voice and fantasy art montage) and now they are back for their revenge turn. So far, so xenomongous.

And I suppose the creatures are actually rather charming, for the most part. They retain Spore’s cuteness, while also managing to look vaguely like X-Men in fancy dress and/or a range of Transformers toys based on crustaceans. The story is badly told, but not damnable so. It’s an offbeat sci-fi blather that manages to make a reasonable excuse for the hitting of swarms of monsters that you are about to do. Before the hitting, however, there is the planning. You are aboard a space-ship (which sadly looks a bit like the default “Hey, This Could Be A Spaceship” type demos you might get for a new CAD program or something) and that’s where you find the editing and planning aspect of the game.

There are three screens to look at on board the spaceship, including one of your team, which is framed by a menu of monsters you can choose to have come with you for space-biff. Then there’s the editor, which is a version of the lovely Spore monster editor, only with added to “loot” to be attached to your “heroes”. As these heroic monsters are adorned with spikes, extra eyes, and techno-axes, they level up. The higher the levels of the parts of your monsters, the better equipped they will be to harm Darkspore when you head into the wider world. It’s a neat system.


Then, with battle-legs adjusted and carapaces dyed shocking pink, you’re off to save the universe. That sounds like a videogame to me! And, for the first hour or two I maintained a bright-eyed optimism. Against all the odds of its ugly and complicated birth, Darkspore was probably going to be okay

The universe that requires saving consists in a series of linear levels that are, for the most part, fairly pretty places to visit and make a fight in. They’re not randomly generated, as Diablo-alikes have so often been, and there are a fair few of them. Having chosen a team and decked out the individuals to the best of their fiddly-tentacle potential, you can launch a mission into jungle worlds and bi-luminescent caves. Intriguingly, the game is permanently attached to a lobby system (yes, this amounts to always-on DRM) which allows you to grab someone to play co-op with, or do some PvP fighting against (once you’ve unlocked that PvP portion of the game). I’m not sure how many people will grab randoms from the void to play co-op with, but the option is there, and it also makes it fairly easy to find real world chums, too. Convenient for me, because I had to test this with a couple of real humans. I’ll come to that in a moment.

Once in the game proper you find yourself in a familiar top-down action-RPG role, pointing and clicking to move or attack the Darkspore. Occasionally you’ll let off the fireworks of your supplementary abilities to deal extra damage, AoE damage, or to heal up the character you are controlling. It’s solid dude-whacking, and the powers are varied, solid, and often imaginative. What’s fairly unusual about this within the realm of action RPGs is that really your character is three characters, because the team you select do not fight together, but can rather be swapped in and out of the fight at will. In certain situations they share abilities, too, so while you might be controlling claw-dude, you also get insect-tree dude’s healing AoE thorns to help you out. It’s a peculiar setup (like much of the game) but it works rather well, especially since you can swap out monsters to take on specific challenges as required.


It works even better in co-op, because the fact that you have three monsters in your pocket means that you can be the damage, or the tank, or the healer at any time. Need two damage dudes and one healer in your group? No problem! More tank, sir? It’s instant, and easy. It’s a splendid take on the MMO notion, but totally versatile and dynamic. This, I would argue, is one of a number of instances of superb design in Darkspore. This is a game that has had some serious work poured into it. Sadly, the icing is cracked, weird, and a little tasteless.

As pretty as the environments are, they’re really without an essential character, and sort of collapse into a puddle of generic space-fantasy art. The same is true of both the Darkspore and your genetic heroes. While they all look fairly “alien” none look particularly engaging or exciting. Nor do they look particularly distinct. The Darkspore, on the field, seldom actually look evil or intimidating, and there really seems little to distinguish them from your own monsters, aside from the fact that you have a health and energy bar visible over you all the time.

The first hour of Darkspore gave me hope, but it slowly spiralled out from there into disillusionment. There is no acceleration into awesomeness beyond unlocking a few new powers, and the collection of bits and pieces of look might feed our collecting and loot-hoovering hunger, but the endemic characterlessness of the game means it’s hard to engage for long without feeling the grind.


Oh, and finally, that DRM lobby system. It seems to be a little confused about what it wants. Or I do. Something is confused, anyway. I pulled out my network cable to see if it would boot me mid game. It didn’t. But then later it simply crashed out to a “check your network settings” sort of error screen for no apparent reason. Clearly the utility of being able to jump into co-op with strangers – as I did – or do a bit of PvP when the fancy takes you, does not outweigh the annoyance of having this kind of DRM lurking in your cables, waiting to catch you out. It’s trouble. It’s unnecessary. EXCITING INSTANT UPDATE: DarkSpore’s official Twitter says that there is no DRM here, and that it is “a client/server multiplayer game, like an MMO (or LoL, TF2, Guild Wars, etc).” So that clears that up, eh readers? (You can’t play offline, basically, even if you choose to play alone.)

There are some reasons to celebrate the arrival of Darkspore, but they are few. There are other reasons to be indifferent to it, and they are numerous. There are reasons to avoid it entirely, and those are few too, but potent. As I sit here in the research crater – it’s dark now, and I’ve moved onto the brandy – I recall that I rather favoured the idea of Darkspore. There will be so many unwanted progeny spawned from the loins of the gaming industry this year, and this did not deserve to be neglected among them. Yes, I wanted to like it, precisely because it’s an outlier, and because it’s a spin-off from a game that most people dislike, and because it’s an experiment from a developer who usually doesn’t dabble in This Sort Of Thing. That said, my leftfield underdog love isn’t enough for me to recommend this strange crossbreed. That’s not to say someone won’t connect with it, just that there are better things out there to connect with, and spend money on.

I think, now that it’s night time, we should take Darkspore to the woods and let it go. You’re free now, boy! That’s it, go find a new home. Someone out there will love you.

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151 Comments »

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  1. Icarus says:

    Yeah, I tried the beta of this for maybe half an hour until I got kicked out of the single player game when my internet connection went a little wonky. Uninstalled it there and then and went back to Torchlight. I feel sorry for the poor sod on the official forums who has to defend this sort of thing as their job.

    • Mac says:

      To be fair, the single player portion of the game is pretty dull – the game only really comes alive in coop (especially in the tough boss mob encounters).

      I managed to pre-order this from the EA Store at Christmas for £15.74 – certainly worth that level of investment, and i’m sure I will get a good few hours of fun out of it. I’ve played around 8 hours so far, and i’m still having fun trying out the different characters and combinations …

      The lack of focus on one character takes some getting used to, and having to micro manage the equip on 9 characters (3 characters in 3 squads which you open up as you progress) does get laborious – espeically as the editior lists all characters you have opened up, and there is no option to only see the ones in your squad.

      Overall, this game does more things right than wrong for me – and its giving me a good ARPG fix. Roll on Diablo 3 :)

      I love Action RPG games,

  2. Jeremy says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like a loadout screen like that in XCOM would be pretty amazing.

  3. Odiorne Point says:

    Huh. I very much enjoyed the beta – moreso than I’d imagined that I would. I thought the combat was satisfying and clean, the art design was solid and interesting, and that matchmaking and general latency issues were, well, non-issues. The game actually got better as I went, as I unlocked new characters and a greater variety of skills (the more you play, the more you actually use your abilities and switch between characters, as energy isn’t as scarce). I also recommend *only* playing with other people, even if it’s PUGs, because the pace of the game increases dramatically when you add more people. At it’s best, this is a great way to kill 20 minutes here, 45 minutes there, all the while having a treasure chest of goofy characters to endlessly fiddle with.

    • Wulf says:

      I completely agree. But I think I know full well the reason why some aren’t compatible with this game…

    • dadioflex says:

      So you’re one of the people who likes it, and the longer you play it the less you’ll need PUGs as I’m sure you’ll find regular friends to play with. Then you’ll get hit with the four micro-expansions a year a la The Sims franchise, and what they wanted to do with the original Spore except it bombed, relatively speaking, but now they’re aiming to snare MMO players who’re conditioned to pay money to game.

      Meanwhile Guild Wars 2 will be coming out soon-ish….

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Yes, but where was its soul? I’ll bet you didn’t find its soul. Whatever you enjoyed was just its body… its knobby, appendage-filled body. But its soul? That was not there for you to plunder, for it has none, or else Jom would have noticed.

  4. Nomaki says:

    Totally agree with you.
    My experience of Darkspore both single-player and co-op can be summarised with a resounding “meh”.

    It’s not good or bad, it’s just.. entirely unremarkable.

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      Diziet Sma says:

      Exactly how I felt. It’s all a tad corporate and soulless.

      I did have a couple of missions during beta with some people (god knows who they were) which were a lot of fun. We seemed to have some good tactics going but still the experience left me a tad cold. I don’t really know what I was expecting however. I know a lot of kids out there will love it though. My nephews (6 & 4) would adore this game, especially if it was on a PS3.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m seeing soulless but not why. And every time I see ‘soulless’, my brain switches it with ‘alien’, and suddenly things start making more sense.

    • JackShandy says:

      Looks like you caught us red-handed. Everyone’s uninterested in this game because we’re all horribly afraid of aliens. That’s why I can’t stand this diablo-like: anything this different just brings me out in a cold sweat!

      We would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for you damn kids and your meddling Wulf.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Wulf is someone who honestly believes a “xenophobe” tries and enjoys new things, yet believes “alien”-ness is enough to send gamers running. You cannot call him out on his points, or he’ll fill the thread with a thick haze of Wulfbabble, like a squid fills the water with ink.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      I think it’s okay to remark on the “soul” of a game from time to time. But I don’t think that saying a game has “no soul” or that its “soul is missing” is any reasonable form of criticism. What does it mean? It means nothing. If it means the game is not fun, then say it’s not fun. If it means the game seems like it’s the result of corporate marketing efforts, then so what?

      I don’t complain that my Nissan Versa has no soul. It drives fairly well, is pretty reliable, and has goes a reasonable distance on a tank of gas.

      I don’t complain that my blender has no soul. It makes a decent pina colada.

      I don’t complain that a science fiction novel has no soul. It may have a contrived plot.

      Not sure why we want to project a soul onto a computer game. If there is a soul, its our own. It’s what we do when we play, how we behave within the game, our continued presence there. Taken that way, it could be very hard to judge the soul of a game before it’s really had time to attract or lose a base of players.

      Anyway, the soul that Jom is searching for may just be his own.

    • Chris D says:

      Dude, there are these things we call metaphors. They’re quite useful for conveying information which would be hard to describe in a list of bullet points.

      You may not descrbe your Nissan Versa as having a soul or not. Jeremy Clarkson probably has an opinion on it, though.

      Of course you don’t care if a blender has a soul. No one has an emotional relationship with a blender.

      Art is different. Games are different. They challenge you to think, you have a relationship with them ( that’s another metaphor unless your tastes are very specialised). You relate to the characters or not. You engage with the story or not. Its a living system (metaphor) all the parts working in harmony to make you think, make you feel, give you a reason to care. At least when they work. Sometimes they’re made by people who don’t love them, who just ape the shape of things that worked before, cargo cult developers if you will. Sometimes the love is there but for some reason it doesn’t survive the creative process, maybe the developers were trying to fly a little too close to the sun. Then a game is just an exercise in button clicking with no reason to care about it. I think soulless is a pretty good metaphor for that, and it’s certainly the kind of information I’d like to see in my reviews.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      I maintain that there is no way to really tell how much love or soul has been put into a game by a developer. I think it’s fine to talk about these things, but I don’t believe it’s fair to render an ultimate judgment such as “it has no soul” when I think it’s quite possible people want to see games released by a company such as EA as soulless. If this game were created by a smaller developer, would it have the same criticism leveled at it for being “corporate?” Or are people transferring what they feel about the game’s publisher onto the game? And is that fair?

      This review lists a lot of positive points. In the end, I think he just didn’t have fun with it although it was technically fine and even had some innovative elements. That statement would be fair to make. A summary judgment on a game’s “soul” doesn’t sit as well to me.

      I don’t particularly care about the game, by the way, so don’t think of me as some Spore fanboy or whatever. I played it two times in closed beta, made a suggestion to allow WASD controls, and never played again. But I did have some fun with it when I played, and were the game not $50 or whatever, I’d be tempted to give it a go. But I don’t pay $50 for any game anymore.

  5. Urthman says:

    What isn’t there is a soul. The thing was born without that vital spark that made it really live.

    This is such a perfect metaphor to use with this build-your-own-Frankenstein’s-monster game that one imagines you’d be sorely tempted to use it even if it weren’t true.

    Fortunately, I trust RPS not to give in to such temptations (it’s not like we’re talking puns here). Unfortunately, that means this game probably isn’t any better than you say.

    • Wulf says:

      Except it’s entirely incorrect. The heroes are already pre-built and every damn one of them has its own backstory, you just customise them, not build them. I feel that people are going out of their way to paint this as soulless just because the characters aren’t human/humanoid. There’s more there in the way of character storyline than Torchlight had, and this game has many characters!

      I do wonder how many played Darkspore without looking at the rather nifty hero profiles…

    • mattjb says:

      Wulf: I chose the blue chick in Mass Effect. With that said, I still find Darkspore to be soulless. Why? Take the menu/interface, for example. It’s overproduced, features a lot of animation and art, and makes it difficult to quickly get into a game. It feels and looks much like the menu/inteface in The Sims 3. Then you enter the maps and they’re pretty generic. The story is generic. Everything starts to feel cut-and-pasted, and thus you have the “soulless” vibe.

    • Negativeland says:

      Except it’s entirely incorrect. The heroes are already pre-built and every damn one of them has its own backstory, you just customise them, not build them. I feel that people are going out of their way to paint this as soulless just because the characters aren’t human/humanoid. There’s more there in the way of character storyline than Torchlight had, and this game has many characters!

      I do wonder how many played Darkspore without looking at the rather nifty hero profiles…

      Ooo, it’s the Fury of the Furries!

      You seem to find the fact, that most sane people can’t relate to creatures too alien to them, offensive. Much like many people find your “hobby” between varying degrees of hilarious and offensive. I’d say that things balance out nicely.

    • Chris D says:

      Most of us have been trying to say there are reasons why you might not like this game other than being a xenophobic moron.

      You’re not helping with that.

    • Negativeland says:

      Most of us have been trying to say there are reasons why you might not like this game other than being a xenophobic moron.
      You’re not helping with that.

      Look. None of what anyone in these comments says is going to distract this guy from his holy mission of spreading love between man and furry four-legged things. The best we can try to do is get some more rise out of him. It’s thankfully rare to find people that clueless about nature.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      I am deeply ashamed to have people like you on my side.

    • Negativeland says:

      I am deeply ashamed to have people like you on my side.

      A far-right, racist, xenophobic, culturally regressive party just took 20% of the parliament seats in my country. Excuse me, if I don’t share much sympathy for a twat who cries xenophobia when people don’t find seemingly randomly assembled collections of rainbow-coloured limbs instantly endearing.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      @mattjb
      Strip down the interface and people would just levy criticisms about it being “shoddy” or “barebones”

    • Urthman says:

      Negativeland, no matter what you think of Wulf’s perspective on games, he’s almost always contributing comments and opinions and ideas about the content of the games we’re discussing.

      You on the other hand are adding nothing worthwhile. Knock it off.

    • Negativeland says:

      Negativeland, no matter what you think of Wulf’s perspective on games, he’s almost always contributing comments and opinions and ideas about the content of the games we’re discussing.

      You on the other hand are adding nothing worthwhile. Knock it off.

      Ah, yes. What a magnificent contribution it is, calling people who can’t (or can’t be arsed to) empathize with the flailing balls of snot in this game “xenophobic”. It trivializes the very real suffering of people who face xenophobia in their everyday lives, and reeks of a personal cause of trying to legitimize his hobby of crypto-zoophilia. You personally can go juggle coyote dicks with him for all I care.

  6. Thule says:

    “@rockpapershot Guys, Darkspore has no DRM of any kind. It is a client/server multiplayer game, like an MMO (or LoL, TF2, Guild Wars, etc).”

    Yeah, sure guys, keep telling yourselves that. Anytime you’re required to be online for a game that’s essentially a single player game, it’s DRM. You can spin it anyway you want to, but you need to come up with something better if you want to fool people.

    Not that I had any interest in Darkspore anyway, but this definitely means I won’t be picking it up even if it goes on sale.

    • Mike Perry says:

      We understand this is confusing @thule, but Darkspore was designed as multiplayer online game from the start. It uses a true client/server architecture, where the client handles the graphics and controls, and the servers handle everything else, including storage of your progress, unlocks, loot, friends lists, etc. The servers are quite elaborate, and this made development very challenging for us. But we felt this architecture was required in order for us to deliver a solid, and importantly, fair multiplayer gameplay experience. If you’ve ever played an online game where another player has hacked their client to cheat, you’ll know what a poor experience that is. We did not want that to happen to players of Darkspore.

      Yes, we support solo play using the exact same architecture, though the game really comes to life when playing in multiplayer. And even though this is an online-only game, we do not charge a subscription fee. In fact, we still have a team of developers assigned to support the game with patches for the foreseeable future.

      No, Darkspore has no DRM. You can install as many copies as you want.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It uses a true client/server architecture

      So does Quake. Fortunately, they’re nice enough to also build the server into the game, so single player is single player.

      And even though this is an online-only game, we do not charge a subscription fee.

      How kind. You might want to make that clear to all the stupid idiots who expected something like every other action RPG, though. Y’know, that a single player game would be single player.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Battle.net managed to save ladder stats for Diablo 2 while still allowing a single player game. Its such a shame a decade later technology has regressed so this is no longer possible :(

    • Thants says:

      You guys must understand how saying basically “It’s not always-on-DRM for single player, it’s just something that amounts to exactly the same thing as always-on-DRM for single player” come across as a bit disingenuous.

    • malkav11 says:

      Diablo II, a fundamentally similar game, offered fundamentally fair, cheat-resistant multiplayer via the -optional- measure of creating and storing your character data on the ranked Battle.net servers. Yet you could still play entirely offline or run in the wild woods of LAN or open Battle.net servers if you chose to. This was over ten years ago. The idea that you could not do this technically is absurd, and the idea that removing consumer choice in the matter should be taken as a positive for the consumer is also absurd.

    • Beebop says:

      You guys are misunderstanding the term “DRM”, as made clear in (what must be) the developer’s comment above.

      Yes you always have to be online to play, that’s a shame, but it isn’t DRM.

      You could, theoretically (and to my mind immorally) hand off your copy to 30 friends and all play simultaneously. Digital Rights Management would prevent this by logging your serial number while you’re online and preventing someone else using it at the same time, or whatever.

      A pain it is, DRM it certainly is not.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      You can call it what you like Mike, if a game requires always on internet for the single player then it’s a big turn-off for me as my internet connection frequently goes down and needs resetting (and it’s from a large national provider that is notorious for this during peak outage, so I know I’m not the only one).

      I am a TF2 player, which also requires internet as a multiplayer only game, but because it is a multiplayer game I accept that always on is nessecary. The thing that really grates about darkspore is that it can be played perfectly well single player and always-on internet is unnessecary. I’ll accept some frustration with the net going down during TF2 because if I’m playing it it’s because I want to play a multiplayer game, with the net-based annoyances that come with it. If it goes down during darkspore I’m going to be hugely pissed off because I’ll have wanted to play it as single player and this will be felt as an unnessecary frustration.

      I don’t want to support always-on single player gaming, but let’s face it, if Deus-Ex 3 required it I’d buy it anyway. But when choosing whether to buy what’s being reviewed as a rather average little title, not buying single player games requiring an always-on connection is an easier decision

      By the way, telling us that we should be grateful we’re not paying a subscription charge is a bit desperate, this isn’t an MMO, it isn’t going to be supported like one, and you are very aware that you couldn’t charge a subscription because nobody would buy it if you did.

    • Mike Perry says:

      Well, we do have quite a different client/server architecture than Quake. We’re much more like WoW actually, with big databases and server farms in Europe, East US, West US, and Asia. In fact, we think we’re the first persistent Action RPG, and we love the benefits that gives players. I personally love playing the game at Maxis, then heading home to log back in and pick up right where I left off. And wait until we reveal more web-based features which use this persistent data… :-)

      (I’m “MaxisMikeP” in the game, BTW, a lowly Crogenitor level 9. I wiped my account along with everyone else when we launched the game last week. Wanna co-op with me?)

      Believe me, we chose a very challenging development path by going client/server, but we were not willing to give players a poor gameplay experience otherwise. And we love multiplayer games, so this enables us to make the game that we wanted. Does a client/server setup help us in terms of piracy? Of course. But that was not the goal for this architecture. As you’ve all mentioned, there are plenty of other, more evil solutions to prevent piracy, but we’re not willing to use any. DRM was forced upon us on Spore, and we will not allow that to happen again.

    • Mike Perry says:

      @Eddy9000, we are absolutely supporting this like an MMO. We launched on April 26 in the US, and April 28 everywhere else, and we’ve pushed 4 client patches and numerous server hotfixes since then. We’ll slow the patch schedule a bit as launch settles down, but we have a team dedicted to Darkspore for both patches and features.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Mike, you are not charging a supscription fee because you know that people would not pay it, because this is a game with a beginning and end not an ongoing game in the syle of WoW (although I might be mistaken?). Stop pretending that we are lucky not to have to pay subscription. This is a single player game that can be played multiplayer as well, not an MMO.

      Most other games can be played single player without connection and multiplayer with one, but your team have chosen unnessecarily to go always-on.

      Bug fixes and patches are something a company should do anyway if they have released their game incomplete, not a form of support that justifies subscription.

    • smartalco says:

      @Mike: Whether the intent was to make it DRM or not, it basically is. And I admire your dedication to creating an environment where it is hard to cheat, I’m just not sure the cost of not allowing people to play offline is worth it.

      That being said, it is always nice to see a developer try to interact with the community, so you get props for that. How’s Sim City 5 coming? :P

    • Belmondo says:

      The comparisons to Diablo are perhaps distracting people. This game is more like Guild Wars, Spiral Knights, Vindictus, whatever genre this is. (Many people DON’T think of these games as MMOs.) Darkspore just has an old-fashioned lobby, where these other games have lobbies that you can run around in. All these games allow you to solo or play with other people.

    • Thants says:

      It would be helpful to know how this differs exactly from just being Diablo 2 with the offline part missing.

    • Mike Perry says:

      Sorry @Eddy9000, on the lack of subscription fee, I didn’t mean to imply that you should pay more or anything. I was simply trying to emphasize that, like an MMO, we do incur recurring costs to operate the game servers. MMOs charge fees to support this, but we don’t. But you are correct: as a player, you don’t need to care about this.

      As for patching, sure we’ll keep fixing bugs as they are reported, but Darkspore is a complete game. And we are indeed supporting it like an MMO, with patches, tuning changes, and new features too. We love this game, and we believe in it enough to keep people on the project even though we’ve already launched it.

      And let me be clear: Darkspore is a multiplayer online game that has support for solo play, not the other way around. We’ve done a poor job of communicating that to people, but once you play the game, it becomes pretty clear. I’m sure I won’t convince everyone that our online architecture is not a form of DRM. But it’s sort of like asking to do a solo raid in WoW offline. It isn’t DRM that you can’t do that – the game simply isn’t built that way. We hope to get a demo out there very soon to give everyone a chance to check this out for themselves, like we did with the open beta.

      I’m the Exec Producer, so I might sound a bit corp-speaky at times, but we love the game we made. And if you like multiplayer online games, and like to grind for lootz, and like to do quick co-op runs with friends, you’ll like Darkspore too. If not, that’s cool.

      And @smartalco, I have no idea what other games you might be talking about. ;-)

      Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go have a scotch egg, and play a little Darkspore. If you see me online, hit me up for co-op.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      @Mike Perry
      Are there any technical reasons why offline solo play couldn’t be supported, but be entirely separate from the online mode, so players couldn’t carry on an offline solo game later on online (which would effectively sidestep the issue of hacked clients)?

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      ffordesoon says:

      @Mike Perry:

      By actively engaging with a community outside the safety of your own forums, you’ve convinced me that Darkspore is worth my money, and I’ll be getting it very shortly. Not necessarily because I think it will be a 10 out of 10 game, but because your clear passion for the game and humility in the face of serious complaints make me want to pay for the game. I like to reward creative people who aren’t jerks.

      Kudos for taking criticism with grace and class. It’s a rare gent who keeps his head when people are bashing a thing he helped to create. I salute you.

    • smartalco says:

      I’ll probably also buy it just as a thanks for the community interaction. (Not right now, I already have like 5 games I’m trying to actively play, and finals in two weeks…, but soon.)

      So, about that Sim City 5 :P

    • mattjb says:

      Mike: Since EA are notorious for shutting down servers for games when they think it’s past its time, how do you feel about your game not working when EA decides to shut down your servers and someone, perhaps 5 years down the road, wants to play Darkspore to relive the memories and revisit the characters they quested with?

      That’s another issue with forcing a single player with an always-on connection. From how you presented it, it doesn’t sound like you can patch that feature out of the singleplayer part, either. So if someone were to buy the game 5-10 years later at $20 or whatever, imagine how sorely disappointed they’d be if the game was not functional … at all.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “You guys are misunderstanding the term “DRM””

      No, we’re saying it amounts to the same thing.

    • Rii says:

      I agree with Beebop, and for the same reasons: this isn’t DRM. The problem is that we’ve yet to develop the vocabulary to distinguish between this sort of thing and, y’know, actual DRM.

      The indignation of some players regarding the game’s architecture and its implications for gameplay and consumer sovereignty are understandable, as is Maxis’ indignation over having that architecture described as ‘DRM. You think Blizzard would let that characterisation lie without comment re: SC2? Of course they wouldn’t.

      I’m not really interested in the game – although I do like its title which is both attractive on its own merits with the added bonus of being a creative derivation of its progenitors’ – but this does seem to be a case of a storm in a teacup. And it’s always fun to see devs poke their head in here for a chat. Kudos for that.

    • Baboonanza says:

      The question isn’t whether there is some fine-grained distinction present. The question should be ‘why have they made online a requirement even when playing in single player?’ Do you honestly think it’s for any other reason than implementing DRM on the sly?

      This is the model that EA etc. would like to push now, since it gives them deniability. ‘It’s a client server game’ my ass.

    • Rii says:

      I’m satisfied by Mike Perry’s explanations as to the intent of the system and the motivations driving it, yes. If as Beebop suggests the system allows (in the sense that it is possible) players to distribute their copy of the game to others and for all parties to log-in simultaneously, then it is clearly useless as DRM, which suggests that it was not coded as such. Indeed, once such an architecture is in place, incorporating an account-key tie is such an intuitive step to take that the lack of it can only be deliberate: an attempt to avoid the controversy that we’re seeing now. Which in turn explains Maxis’ indignation at how their architecture has been received. From their POV, they went out of their way to be the good guys in all this.

      And I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the community to note and complain about the ways in which this architecture does not in fact serve their interests. Even to vilify Maxis for it, if that’s your thing. There’s more than one way for devs to screw up, and not all of them go by the name of ‘DRM’. That’s all I’m saying.

      Given the promise of ongoing development, I think it would be an excellent sign of good faith on Maxis’ part to patch in some provisions for offline play, even if limited to something like the Steam system where you have to shift to ‘offline mode’ in advance and thereby forego certain functionality. Clearly the architecture as it stands is of some concern to the community, and addressing such concerns post-launch is the mark of a good developer.

    • Premium User Badge

      dog says:

      @ffordesoon my thoughts exactly … well, except for the bit about buying the game :)

      well done Mr Perry for your mature response to the critics… i still think its more-or-less DRM but you’ve argued your case well…

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Although I still disagree that there is no other option than always on Internet, if the game is a primarily multiplayer game that can be played single player then that goes some way to justify always-on, and it is always welcome to see developers answer criticisms on forums. Dave does seem like an affable chap.

      It does raise the question of how strongly it is being marketed as primarily multiplayer though, or whether Maxis is playing down the diminished single player experience to get sales from people who don’t play online much. Which might account for the confusion of people wondering why what they think is primarily a single player game requires always on Internet.

      Although part of me thinks I should stop whinging, Id love a game that was primarily single player that can have casual multiplayer as well, like an rpg based around a single player campaign but where you can run into other players doing their missions and group up occasionally, and Carmelite does look like a step in the direction of casual multiplayer.

    • Draco18s says:

      @Mike Perry:
      Darkspore is persistent? In what way? The player’s actions can’t effect the world (ok, ok, the world is quite persistent in that regard, but obviously that’s not what we mean here). I suppose the player keeps the benefits they’ve acquired, but this differs from other RPGs how?

      I don’t understand how you can say that Darkspore is “first” at doing anything in the genre.

    • Laephis says:

      Somebody show these comments to Derek Smart. Mr Perry just showed us all how to handle criticism with tact and professionalism.

  7. Qwentle says:

    I completely agree. My main problem with the game was the lack of soul. In an even greater extent than Torchlight (which I also find a bit soulless), the game doesn’t feel like it has any greater meaning, and very little connection to your avatar. Technically it’s pretty good, and the MvC style monster switching is definately a nice idea (though multiple avatars may also add to the lack of connection I feel to the game) but I don’t feel the same jingle up my spine that I do loading up something such as Diablo 1 (though the accoustic guitar may have something to do with that).

    • Wulf says:

      I think that’s because the characters aren’t human/humanoid. It’s a distinctly normal response to it, really. I mean, I’m the opposite of you and I had a stronger connection with this than I did Torchlight, because I found the heroes more compelling than any of the three characters in Torchlight. It’s just going to be what you go for. Some of us will prefer your average human adventuring hero, and some will prefer a bizarre qudropedal cybernetic space-mantis. I’m the latter.

      And I think the quixotic/almost suicidal mission to try to save the universe from a bout of universe-wide corruption had more meaning to me than saving a little village. So there’s that, too.

  8. silverhammermba says:

    I was hoping for more control in the creature editor. But (as many forum fanboys have pointed out to me) such features were not included because I am an idiot and how could that ever work and did I even play the game, asshole.

  9. karry says:

    “Tis the progeny of Maxis, sim-creators, and it is… an action RPG?”
    You know how i know Jim is younger than me ? He’s hever heard about Crucible.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I’m probably not as young as you think. And I have a copy of SimCopter.

      Ref Crucible: one unreleased Diablo clone does not a history of ARPGs make.

    • Mike Perry says:

      Whoa, you have a SimCopter? Did you ever see the infamous “easter egg’?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I haven’t, but I remember someone in the office trying to get to it for a “Greatest Secrets” feature back when I was on PCG.

    • Highstorm says:

      Oh man, SimCopter was brilliant!

    • karry says:

      “one unreleased Diablo clone does not a history of ARPGs make.”

      Maybe so, yet my point stands – the phrase i quoted ealier is 15 years late. THEN it was something to muse about. Maxis ? Making a Diablo-clone ??? Today – eh, anything goes.

  10. westyfield says:

    “spawned from the lions of the gaming industry”
    Typo of the week, right there.
    Edit: I don’t intend to be smug about this – it just gave me an amusing/frightening mental image.

  11. Thants says:

    “Intriguingly, the game is permanently attached to a lobby system (yes, this amounts to always-on DRM)”

    So, the first company to pull this crap gets outrage and boycotts. The second gets a brief mention in the review. I wish RPS had taken a stand and not reviewed this.

    “To be clear: Maxis hates DRM, and wants nothing to do with DRM of any kind, ever again. Darkspore has no DRM.”
    -@DarksporeGame

    This isn’t always-online DRM like Assassin’s Creed 2, where you had to be connected to their servers just to play the single-player game. It’s an “online architecture”, where you have to be connected to their servers just to play the single-player game.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I mention it twice, which I think is fair. It’s bad design, in our book, and we’ll continue to say so.

    • Thants says:

      Fair enough, I think all that “We hate DRM, this is just something exactly like DRM” from them got me riled up.

    • Wulf says:

      It does have a matchmaking system involved there which is always on, so you could get invited to a team at any moment. I’ve taken it up on that and… well, actually had a good experience there. The Darkspore community is unusually kind and helpful, perhaps because it’s a small community of odd people. I don’t know.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Probably just that it’s the fanatics who want it to be awesome who have dived in so far, so you’re not going to run into many griefing dicks.

      In my experience, with all but the really big AAA titles, the starting communities for most games are pretty nice. It’s rare that someone will go to all the effort of pre-ordering a game, first day install it, and then devote themselves to being an ass in multiplayer straight away.

    • Nick says:

      “It’s rare that someone will go to all the effort of pre-ordering a game, first day install it, and then devote themselves to being an ass in multiplayer straight away.”

      Unless its a Blizzard product.

      =)

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I would say Blizzard fall under the “AAA titles” exception that I noted in my post.

  12. Jimbo says:

    There’s a Xenomongoose in this game?

    I haven’t played it, but using the creature creator solely for aesthetics seems like a crazy waste of potential to me. It could have been so much more than a glorified equipment screen.

  13. Bodylotion says:

    I only played the beta but I never felt the game would get better further into the game. Darkspore is not a bad game but it just never excites you it just feels like it drags you along.

    • Wulf says:

      That’s how I felt about the Diablo games, if I’m being honest. But I never felt that way about this. Different strokes.

  14. Premium User Badge

    luminosity says:

    I found the editor actually quite annoying. It was fun the first time or two, but soon you’re wishing you just had slots to swap the various upgrade parts into, because you’re swapping one or two on multiple heroes after every mission, and so when there’s two or thre of you instead of bouncing from mission to mission you have ten minutes + in between each to throw parts onto your creatures.

    I also found that getting upgrades for the heroes I liked seemed rather unlikely. Too many different heroes, not enough loot dropping, so slowlu, gradually, my squads would get weaker and weaker compared to enemies.

    On the plus side I think the squad idea is totally brilliant, and I hope lots of other developers will steal it.

  15. Wulf says:

    I just don’t think Darkspore will be for everyone.

    One sentiment I hear around the Internet a lot is this: It’s hard to care about this game due to the non-human heroes.

    Almost every review I’ve read has said that. And I suppose that’s the way it is for a lot of people, and those people will enjoy Torchlight a lot more.

    For me, this is a much more fun, joyful, and fulfilling version of Torchlight aimed at xenophiliacs, creative people, and extremely visual people. It’s like Spore in a lot of ways. What you get out of it is directly proportionate to what you put into it. If you spend a lot of time customising your heroes and you really like them, then it’s a good reason to come back and keep coming back.

    But again, some people are just going to be happier with Torchlight. Bunch of humans, fantasy setting, can’t go wrong there, right?

    Still, in Darkspore you have areas where you’re walking along a plateau of asteroids that form a ring, surrounded by forcefields that are barely keeping you from being sucked into a singularity, or a world where there are plasma flows, regulated by magnetic fields, or believable bioluminescence (mutated plants that have learned to absorb phosphor-rich minerals). It’s a really engaging science-fantasy romp.

    It’s just not for everyone. I won’t pretend that it is. And I won’t pretend that it’s a brilliant, amazing thing like Portal 2 was. But I liked it, I liked it a lot, and I find it a shame that some won’t like it purely because of its setting and characters, because that’s the only thing that makes it different from Torchlight and other, similar Diablo Lite games, really. And yes, that does make me weep on the inside a bit, but I can’t expect all people to be the same. And I certainly wouldn’t want everyone to be like me.

    Though there are some reviews that were kind to it and put it in a positive light. I particularly liked 1up’s review and Ten Ton Hammer’s review. They both do a good job of explaining how wonderfully alien it all is, but sadly even the latter points out that the reviewer simply cannot connect with the characters because they’re too alien for him.

    If you liked Torchlight but felt that it was missing something because of a boring tried and tested setting, then this might be for you. But keep in mind… this is one for the xenophiliacs. This is strange and wonderful. And… I like it.

    • Wulf says:

      One thing I will add to that is that the loneliness of it worked for me. It’s akin to many games of the past where we’ve been alone, and that’s because it’s the player against insurmountable odds. That’s what it is here, too. It’s the player, on board one ship, with a few squads of heroes, versus a Universe turned dark (literally, by reducing all intelligent life to base predator-prey relationships again) and filled with mutated, twisted creatures. It’s a hopeless, quixotic mission to set everything right.

    • Xocrates says:

      I don’t care any more for the heroes of Torchlight than I did for the ones of Darkspore during the beta. The problem is neither setting or characters, simply the fact that the game never gives you a reason why you should care.

      You’re fighting faceless generic enemies using blank characters for ill-defined reasons. At least Diablo and Torchlight gave you a villain at the start and a handful of NPCs you’re supposed to be saving.

      On a pure gameplay sense, Darkspore is fine, and even has plenty of good ideas and enviroments, but lacks sense of progression and purpose.

    • Wulf says:

      The characters aren’t blank, they all have their own backstory in their profile and that’s more than Diablo gave us. Again, I see people being hard on this just because it’s strange. That’s the vibe I keep getting.

      And the reason is perfectly well explained in the storyline, which is there if you listen to it.

    • Xocrates says:

      Let me put it this way then: Darkspore presents its plot and backstory poorly. Which for gameplay purposes is the equivalent of not having one at all.

    • FD says:

      I don’t know where you are getting this xenophobia thing from. The term lacking a soul doesn’t just mean the characters aren’t identifiable but also that the game lacks the right kind of spark to make something we’ve all seen before interesting again.

      There are only so many times you can play a Diablo style game or any other game style. For me to excited enough about a game to buy it at near full price it needs to offer me something that is novel and interesting gameplay-wise or it needs to do the game style as well as it can be done. In the case of Darkspore I see some interesting ideas like the active character swapping but not enough to liven up another Diablo style game.

      Note that all the above applies to Torchlight as well, its only real leg up on Darkspore in my mind is, it came out earlier so there was less genre fatigue.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Wulf: You’re free to love this game as much as you like for whatever reason you like, but I believe you’re mischaracterising the reasons other people dislike it.

      I don’t think people look at grotesque things and just say they hate it because they are inhuman. I myself find the designs of the Darkspore aliens very interesting and unique. I still couldn’t get into the game because I thought like Jim does that while there are some very neat ideas surrounding the gameplay, the core gameplay itself wasn’t compelling enough and felt like ceaseless grind after a while.

      Then again, maybe I’m the wrong person to ask. None of these aRPGs have ever captured my attention for long enough to complete them despite wanting so badly to enjoy them. The furthest I’ve gotten in one was the last act of Titan Quest I think. But at least I can say that I enjoyed TQ. I enjoyed Diablo 2. Didn’t enjoy Torchwood that much and I didn’t really enjoy the Darkspore beta.

      The problem is Darkspore might have a lot of backstory and history to tell but it’s like the Codex in Mass Effect. Not everybody will be interested enough to read through it all. And those of us who don’t won’t see the difference between the multitude of creatures except the obvious mechanical ones, and that’s not going to be interesting enough for everyone.

      My point is it’s a game. If a game has something interesting to say, it needs to say it in game terms. A little prose is ok, but tucking it away and making it slabs of text won’t grab people like recording some lines for the creatures to utter while they pull off some particularly badass moves. The repeated environments are also off-putting for me.

      But the biggest problem for me is a lack of purpose, or a distance from purpose. The very first thing that happens as you’re dropped into the world of Titan Quest is that someone asks you to save their horses from satyrs. Your character is directly asked to intervene in a crisis. And the result is a safe horse and a little reward.

      In comparison each mission in Darkspore has some purpose, but I felt like I was never shown what it is. Your space ship drops you in to some location and you hack and slash your way through it till you reach a boss event and when you’re past that the mission is over. I never got a sense that I was accomplishing anything besides the destruction of Darkspores. It’s made worse by the fact that the voiceover likes to point out interesting things that you can’t interact with. “Go past the pretty waterfall, turn left at the downed spaceship, go under the giant alien skeleton and you’ll be at the arena ready to kill yet another boss.” Then you kill the boss aaaand… nothing happens. A teleporter returns you to the ship, ready to go another round. I never got a sense that I had fixed anything or changed anything. Matters hadn’t been improved by my intervention.

      I feel like this is a large part of what people mean when they describe this game as soulless. It’s all empty hack and slash calories, very little substance. If only we could talk to the Darkspores, etc etc.

    • Flint says:

      Maybe they’ve just been socially engineered to dislike it.

  16. Severian says:

    I had somewhat high (and probably optimistic) hopes for this game, and am generally forgiving of aRPG’s, just because I love games where I can sink 30-60 min into them at a time and feel like I got a little dopamine action, so I’ll probably pick this up when its price dips below the magic 20.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, I’d advise waiting for a price drop so that you don’t plunge too much money into it in case you are disappointed. But from my perspective, it’s everything Torchlight was and so much more – more in terms of combat, customisation, content, setting, storyline, and everything. Torchlight was pretty shot and cheerful, this has a lot more depth to it by comparison. I loved the hell out of Torchlight, but the more I play this, the more I’m finding that I’m loving it even more than I loved Torchlight.

  17. jack4cc says:

    Diablo 2 had random maps with stuff that made them stand out and lots of loot and a huge skill tree, darkspore has 5 maps, no randomness, and a ‘3+1 buttons’ skill tree. meh. Too little, too late.

  18. Hunam says:

    The original Spore was a massive failure in my books. The fact it was some weird adventure space sim thing was massively wrong and I really hated it for it. Possibly the most disappointing game in existence. Darkspore seems to follow this trend. I think it’s safe to say at this point that the Spore brand is toast and Maxis should move onto something else. Maybe a proper sim game.

    • Xocrates says:

      Do not confuse not liking something with it being bad. If you expected Spore to be different that’s not the game’s fault. Quite frankly the game delivered pretty much what I expected it to, but that was because I knew the odds of it living up to the hype were slim to none.

      Spore might not have lived to its full potential, but it didn’t fail.

      And honestly it’s too soon to say if Darkspore will fail, but again I’ll note the game is pretty much what I expected it to be.

  19. Wulf says:

    Okay, I’m just going to leave this be I think. I’m going to get depressed again by rampant xenophobia, like I always do. All I’m saying is that I hope some will give this a go, there’s an enjoyable game there if you have the sort of open mind and creative bent that it does require.

    • Xocrates says:

      Xenophobia? No one other than you named the alien setting as the reason the game doesn’t seem interesting.

    • Qwentle says:

      I don’t think it’s xenophobia. Ignoring the fact that two out of three of the characters I played were bipedal (and thus both about as human as half the RPG cast I usually play, at least once they get the rediculous armour all over them), for me it was more about the lack of interaction with anything other than your AI and no real overarching goal to work towards that did me in with it. On top of this, the levels felt like random game spaces than real environments. As I mentioned earlier, I had similar issues with Torchlight for the same reasons. Despite being earthbound, it lacked a lot of the soul I’d come to expect from the genre (and by that I don’t mean depth).

      Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought both games due to them having some amazingly polished mechanics, though to me it just makes them feel mechanical. With both titles I feel that too much polishing has rubbed down any definition beneath.

    • Nick says:

      Honestly, its you seeing it where it isn’t. Again.

    • Tetragrammaton says:

      Zenoclash, Sacrifice & Oddworld are three of my favorite gameworlds.
      They have character, they have soul, they are weird, they are inhuman. Darkspore is clinical, generic and most importantly: It has no soul.
      Honestly wulf, this xenophobia thing is starting to get a little tiresome – mostly because it is a delusion which involves you actively insulting the majority of RPSs readership in almost every article you post under.
      Accusing people of something which exists solely in your own mush may be a very gamerly trait – but it is not very conducive to a pleasant atmosphere. Please stop it.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Give it a rest, Wulf, you’re not making much sense with this one. We’re *gamers* ffs, we all love aliens.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Wulf, I only played the beta, and I think I can understand some of what your arguing. Rather than focus on xenophobia I think you should argue against the highly subjective notion of a game’s soul.

      To be fair, Jom made a number of criticisms that were valid to him. These had to do with the pacing and the environments, or the lobby system, I dunno. He says he wanted to like the game because he liked the idea, but does his best to immediately negate every bit of praise with a criticism rather than let them stand.

      And he puts a warning up front that the game has no “soul.” To me, this says, “I’m right not to like it even though there are good things about it, but I can’t really find the words to express why not.”

      That’s the sign to me of someone that does not want to let himself like a game, despite having said the opposite in the review. Maybe it’s a sign of being a bit jaded, or of having too many other games available to play.

      In the end, though, Jom doubts the universality of his judgment. He may have cast down Darkspore from his personal paradise for not having a soul, but he seems to realize that his own qualms, whatever they may be, may not be valid for others: “Someone out there will love you,” he says.

      And I think they will. Why? Because of the “charming creatures,” “offbeat sci-fi,”neat system,” “solid dude-whacking,” and “splendid take on the MMO notion.” This review is why God created review blurbs. Liberated from the rest of the article, Jom’s praises really do sound like praises. And I think it’s fair to do that in this case.

    • Thants says:

      Why do you keep calling him Jom? I’m confused.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      A magician never reveals his tricks, but this is nothing like that, so here you go.

      Because of an obscure forum post from last October:

      http://rockpapershotgun.com/rpsforum/topic.php?id=3476#post-136077

      Here is photographic evidence that someone else, at least at one time, also used the name:

      http://www.big-robot.com/?p=15#comments

      Why do I alone continue? There’s something wrong with me, probably. But the stakes are low.

  20. rocketman71 says:

    So, @DarksporeGame says “@rockpapershot To be clear: Maxis hates DRM, and wants nothing to do with DRM of any kind, ever again. Darkspore has no DRM.”, and then FORCE YOU to be connected to the net to play single player. Fucking great. Go look hypocrisy in your dictionary, please.

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s an odd thing to say, really. What do they think flagrantly lying is going to get them?

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I can’t see any lying, merely a misapprehension of what the game actually is.

      It’s not a singleplayer game at all. Ever. It’s a persistent world multiplayer aRPG, that happens to be playable without playing directly with anyone else.

      In those circumstances, I’m willing to forgive it them DRMalike features.

      I’m still not going to buy it until it hits the magic price point, though. I’ll pay higher prices for games from developers with a strong track record of titles I like but, alas, Maxis lost that track record a long time ago. So I’ll give this a chance when it’s under $10. If I like it, I might pay more for the next one.

    • malkav11 says:

      If it is possible to play the game start to finish without ever involving another player, then that is pretty much the definition of a singleplayer game. A multiplayer game that you can play alone would be something like Guild Wars or soloing in MMOs – the other players are there, interacting with the same world at the same time (albeit only in certain parts of Guild Wars). You may not ever actually quest with them or participate in raids or whatever, but they will be competing with you for quest resources, driving a player economy, etc etc. Nothing I have heard about Darkspore suggests this level of player involvement. Everything suggests that it is very much a Diablo or Torchlight sort of action RPG that has arbitrarily decided it must happen on servers.

    • Draco18s says:

      @drewski:
      Darkspore is a “persistent world RPG”? Well shucks, it must be nothing ever changes. :-|

  21. Dachannien says:

    My review on this game: it’s a $20 game that costs $50. The end.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      It’s interesting that although it’s what a purchase ultimately boils down to, people don’t talk about price much. Instead of Eurogamer commenters saying ‘this reads like a 6/10″, perhaps they should be saying “this reads like a £23″.

      Ideally they should just use the descriptive power of words to discuss a game, but I think that’s a little past them, I bloody hate the eurogamer forums.

    • Rii says:

      Man Rossignol’s review was better.

    • pandora says:

      Numerical marks expressed as currency could actually support game journalists’ transparency. Think of all the “they would need to pay me exactly that much to finish it before giving review” reviews, marked in negative numbers.

  22. Vinraith says:

    Pity about the DRM, I’d have given this a try otherwise.

  23. Wulf says:

    Okay, just one last quick reply, and this one’s about Spore, since it’s been out longer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUy5KGpcOs8

    When I say that with a game like that, you get out of it what you put into it, and your character has as much personality as you’re able to give it? Well.. that’s what I mean. Every time I go back to the original Spore I see the most amazing shit that people have made, it’s incredible, and there’s nothing else out there like it in that regard.

    I’m expecting to see this with the heroes of the folks I end up playing with, since it seems like high levels of uniqueness are possible with Darkspore, too.

    • ComradePenguin says:

      Thing is Spore is a different kettle of fish. It has no real story other than the one you create allowing you to put more in, invest in characters etc. It was in many ways a sandbox with which to play.
      The problem with Darkspore is it does have a story and it tells it badly. Providing me with a box text biography of a character is a poor and lazy solution in an interactive and largely visual medium. Plus the voiceover during the game resembles an open top bus tour. Commenting on crashed spaced ships in the background and giving you interesting historical tit-bits. The effect is very distancing.
      I disagree that it is “weirdness” of the game that doesn’t let some relate to the characters. I think it’s the very mechanics. Whilst Diablo or Torchlight give you little to go on, what you’re playing as is you, you’re the one wandering round the world. In Darkspore you’re more the god-like general in a strategy game. The very fact you can swap in and out creatures both between and during missions reduces any sense of connection you might have with the characters. They become like inventory objects. Swapping out your bio character for your necro ends up feeling much like switching your weapons in any other aRPG.
      I actually invested a fair bit of time in the beta (10-15 hours) and I will pick it up when it is cheap. Those same mechanics that hurt the story help make the gameplay interesting and balancing out a squad is fun. This combined with solid mechanics make it enjoyable to play but it lacks any feeling of a world or atmosphere.
      I have no doubt you can generate great things with the creature creator and this will add a certain level of uniqueness to the game but ultimately its more a nice add on then anything. Spore never reached greatness because it lacked good gameplay. It maybe worked as a creativity tool, a sort of second life for artists, but those of us looking for game to flourish out of it were left disappointed. I fear Darkspore has got gameplay but by cramming in a half baked story to justify it it has nullified the player’s feeling they’re involved in the world.
      Also to counteract any accusations of me being a xenophobe I always quite fancied the volus in Mass Effect.

  24. bluebogle says:

    DRM is bad enough. Calling it by another name and asking us to go along is just insulting.

  25. Joof says:

    Is there a demo for this game? I’m interested, but worried it might be a bit shallow for my tastes.

  26. Wulf says:

    I keep thinking I won’t come back here, but I keep finding awesome stuff. I blame the Darkspore forums for this.

    http://davoonline.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=88&t=2153

    With Darkspore and Spore, you can do that. And yes, I’m now installing Spore again.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      OK, that’s pretty damned cool. Yeah, I saw that Mr. Biscuit likes it too, and it looks like great fun in co-op. I can’t foot the price at the moment, so I’ll wait until it’s on sale to pick it up.

      It looks like something that’ll become a cult classic, to be honest.

  27. Wulf says:

    Okay, this too. >8|

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp1A7MRSyvs

    Why?

    TotalBiscuit likes it too! I did not see that coming. Holy crap. And he likes Maldri! Maldri, of course, being my favourite hero (the aforementioned quadrupedal cybernetic space-mantis).

    I’m stunned, to be honest.

    Didn’t see that coming.

    What next, Yahtzee giving Darkspore a glowing review?

    Anyway, I’m pleased with that, I don’t feel quite so depressed about the reception of this game, now. I really was stunned at the reactions of some, because, you know, it’s Diablo/Torchlight, but more visually interesting, and that’s it. And… well, people freaked out at that. :P

    I suppose the reason a really negative reception to this would bother me is because A) it’s actually really good, damn it(!), and B) Maxis might abandon the Spore license. And I like Spore. Admittedly, Spore comes into its own really with Galactic Adventures, but with that it’s amazing.

    So… yeah.

    Wow.

    Didn’t… see that coming. Genuinely surprised, quite happy, and nice to feel validated by someone who’s more cynical than I am.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think you have a problem wulf. You enjoy the game, thats great. Why does it matter what other people think?

    • Wulf says:

      I think you have a problem, DrGonzo. You don’t like what I have to say, that’s great. Why does it matter to you that I feel that there’s something worth defending, here?

      The point is is that anyone can attack a person instead of their view, and that’s what you’re doing, you’re attacking me instead of what I think. It’s as cheap as hell. The same thing happened when I disliked Dragon Age. Where were you to tell that to the 20 or so people who replied to me to tell me I was completely clinically insane for disliking that game?

      I see that a lot on RPS. Hey, whether I like or dislike something, I’m a horrible person!

      But yeah, I think it’s a game worth defending, and those people who attacked me over Dragon Age did a lot, lot worse than I’ve done, here. Go and have a look! I even had one person attack my character and try to make me look like a terrible person just to make the game look better. Not joking.

      Some people just think that some things are worth defending. I get that because I think that this is. And it would be a crying shame if people were turned off by this because of the xenophobia of some. I mean, TotalBiscuit’s review is a perfect example of someone not being bothered by the peculiar nature of this game, and even actually enjoying it.

      I’ve just been trying to provide counter-points and opposing views, because RPS tends to make this game look far worse than it is.

      But yes. If you think this is bad, go take a look at the Dragon Age Wot I Think. Seriously. I’ve been… well, shockingly nice. :P I’ve disagreed with people but I haven’t been outright horrible about it, I’ve not tried to make anyone seem like a terrible person for not liking the game. And yet… because it was Dragon Age, folks like you weren’t there to say things like this.

      Imagine that.

      I’ll finish up by saying that it bothers me that people seem to dislike what I like but purely based on non-human elements. Example? Kadayi in the Guild Wars 2 thread attacks the non-human characters for being ‘cartoonish’, but I don’t see anything cartoonish about this. Do you? Of course not. It’s xenophobia raising its ugly head again.

      I think that people might be getting upset in some cases because I’m getting very close to the truth of things here. That some people are xenophobic, as a personal limitation. I know that I have my own limitations, but that isn’t one of them.

      But I’m tired of seeing games slated just because of some people being xenophobic because I’m worried that eventually developers will stop trying to make strange and wonderful things. They’ll just give up. And as soon as 2014 we’ll be seeing games filled with only boring settings and human characters, to appease the frothingly xenophobic gamer-mass.

      Right there, that’s what bothers me.

      It just worries me that because of xenophobia, all the sorts of things that I love in entertainment will become extinct.

    • Wulf says:

      I’d be honestly disappointed, really disappointed, if no one saw where I was coming from here and why it really worries me. I think that we were less xenophobic as a whole in the ’90s and things were more interesting then because of it. But on the other hand, I think that Japan had a large hand in that because they, themselves are less xenophobic when it comes to alien creatures/environments. They always have been.

      I really do worry that what we’re going to teach developers is that they should go back to the drawing board and redesign their games to have average human characters and boring settings otherwise their game will flummox the majority of gamers and not sell. Shouldn’t that worry me? Shouldn’t it bother me that so many people are essentially saying that? And perhaps, if I love this sort of thing, shouldn’t it break me to a degree? People are saying that this game is worse than Diablo/Torchlight but providing no valid reasons. TotalBiscuit points out that it’s every bit as good. Now what I keep getting the hint of is that it’s actually more like “Well, this is as good as Diablo/Torchlight, but it’s worse for me because I’m more than a bit xenophobic. If this were more normal and something I could understand, then I’d be okay with it.” and yes, that bothers me. :|

      I feel like all the time things are getting less and less fantastic as developers are trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. And yes, the lowest common denominator is as xenophobic as all hell. Apparently this shouldn’t bother me.

      I’m sorry, but it does.

      Hopefully someone will understand why.

    • Baka says:

      Wuuuuuuulf!
      Stop!

    • Chris D says:

      As I understand it, Wulf,( correct me if I’m wrong) for you having non-human characters is a positive selling point, something that outweighs a lot of other deficiencies a game might have. That’s fine,we all have different priorities. Personally I’ll cut a game a lot of slack if it shows me something I haven’t seen done before.

      I think that for most of us, having non-human characters is something relatively neutral. We don’t mind very much either way, it doesn’t put us off but it’s not going to redeem a game that we weren’t interested on other grounds either.

      What I think people are objecting to is that you seem to be implying that non-human characters are something that actively puts us off a game we’d otherwise quite like. While that may be true for some people I don’t think there’s any evidence that’s the case for most people. It’s also worth noting that a game doesn’t have to actually bad for us not to buy it, not quite good enough will also do it.

      I don’t think there’s really any evidence for assuming the population as a whole objects to non-human characters. The popularity of Bambi, Lassie, Bugs Bunny, Wall-E, Rango and a whole lot of others would seem to point in the opposite direction.

      As for comparisons with Diablo/Torchlight, lack of offline single player seems pretty significant to me.

    • Wulf says:

      @Baka

      Can’t.

      I will talk and talk when something matters to me, and this matters to me, as one of the few things related to gaming does. I know I’m fighting the tide here, I feel like my position is as quixotic as that of the crogenitors themselves, but I have to say something. I don’t care whether people think I’m nuts, or whether my words are pointless, but gods damn it… I have to say something.

      I’m just really afraid of the day that all creativity will be wrung out of gaming, and there’ll be no escapism left, just because people are afraid of it really, and they want a little escapism, maybe near future space operas with just human characters, very reality-based fantasy, or just fast cars and rich people, and it’s going to be nothing more. Nothing more than that. All the vibrancy that gaming used to have will be dead. It’s getting to me because I can see it dying off right now, and I know why.

      I can’t stop that from happening, but when it happens I want to be able to point back and say that I bloody well told you all so. By reacting this way to everything that’s a bit strange, we’re just drumming it into the heads of people to play it safe, play it safe, play it MORE safely. How do you play it safe? Be boring, be MORE boring. And then all the clever little curiosities will be no more.

      :|

      I’m sorry that Maxis experiment failed. I actually feel genuinely sorry for them. Gamers aren’t ready for this, and I think it’ll take everything getting mind-numbingly boring before everyone else snaps out of it and starts craving bizarre things. But by the time that happens, I’ll probably be too old to appreciate it.

    • Wulf says:

      @Chris D

      I’d believe that if I didn’t keep seeing people say it.

      “No connection to the characters.”
      “Want us to hate the characters.”
      “The characters are soulless.”
      “These are blank characters.”

      And so on.

      I mean, there’s a hell of a lot more there than there was in Diablo, but did I see people saying that the characters were dead-eyed ghouls in Diablo and Diablo II (which they were, there was absolutely nothing to them at all, they were just a walking, fighting excuse for a class)? No, I didn’t. And it’s what bothers me here.

      Talk about problems with the game, fine! But if anyone cites the characters/settings as a negative point then I’m going to call xenophobia! Because we weren’t saying this about Diablo. We weren’t saying this about Torchlight. So why are we, then, saying this about Darkspore? I just don’t think it’s something that can be defended.

      If I wasn’t seeing it, I wouldn’t complain about it. But a lot of the complaints do seem to be more about the characters and setting rather than anything else. Why didn’t we complain about those with every other Diablo-like game ever? Honestly.

      My point is is that if we were talking purely about the mechanics of the game then I’d find a lot more to agree with, but when I see people talk about it… the characters and settings almost always come up. And I keep thinking to myself how different the opinions would have been if they were average, human characters (a la Diablo) in boring, medieval settings.

      People tend to be more forgiving if things are boring.

    • Wulf says:

      I want to believe that people are better than base xenophobia, I really do. Honestly I do. But I’m just not seeing that. And that I’m not seeing people rise above it… it’s getting on top of me and yes, it is breaking me. I suppose I’m just constantly being disappointed by people for not seeing wonder in anything unusual, and only seeing a barrier to entry. You just have to look at the reviews (including this one), and all the comments to see that I’m not being insane about this, I’m telling the truth.

      And since I feel the opposite, since I see wonder there, I don’t know how I’m supposed to react. But I am tired of it. I’ll say again that if it was all about the mechanics or even the DRM, then fine, but it’s not.

      I’ll get over it and I’ll be back to normal for other articles, and I’m sorry to anyone I’ve offended. But this is such an important matter to me in regards to entertainment stuffs, perhaps even the most important matter. And I’d go crazy if I didn’t say anything. I’ll get over it though and once this article is gone and dead, I’ll try to keep it to myself until it comes up in a big way again.

      Still… disappointing.

    • JackShandy says:

      I-I surrender, I surrender! I-I’ll love every alien I see! Goddamnit, you’ve won, do you hear me? You’ve won. *breaks down weeping*.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “quixotic”

      Mm, now that you mention it, remember that bit in book 1 where the Don believes herds of sheep to be opposing armies?

    • KikiJiki says:

      Wulf you seem to be digging your own grave here.
      You don’t like ad hominem attacks, yet you brand people that dislike darkspore as xenophobic.
      Perhaps if you didn’t spam replies to almost everyone giving fairly reasonable opinions, constantly using the same insulting generalisation and words-putting-in-mouth you’d have more support for your counterbalancing opinion here.
      As it is, you just come off very badly.

      Also your entire premise is ridiculous. Since you seem to take issue with the characters from Diablo, I’ll just lightly mock you by suggesting that since the Sorcerer in D1 and the Paladin in D2 are black, that you must be racist if you have a problem with them being ‘soulless’.

    • Thants says:

      Wulf, no one here has said they don’t like the game because it’s too weird and alien. I’m happy for you that you like the characters here, but that fact that other people think they’re dull doesn’t make this a referendum on the failings of human kind.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Wulf is entirely correct. I have been playing fantasy RPGs all my life and now have a phobia of girls with small boobies.

  28. Zogtee says:

    I admit that I expected this to be poor, but looking back, I think it was my lingering disappointment over Spore that caused this. I didn’t think anything good would come from it.

    It’s not at all bad, though. It is in fact surprisingly good. Definately lacking in personality, though, and when Diablo 3 hits, few will remember this.

  29. mattjb says:

    Like you, I wanted to like Darkspore, as I tend to be addicted to action RPG’s and grabbing lots of loot. However, after trying the beta for about 30 minutes, I knew pretty much what you’ve surmised after that hour. That there’s very little soul, that it’d get grindy and generic very quickly, and that lobby system was an unnecessary DRM. Sure, they can say it isn’t DRM, but that’s like food manufacturers claiming there’s no MSG by simply renaming it to “modified yeast extract”. It’s fine if it had DRM, but don’t treat people like idiots when they realize the lobby system is a form of DRM they wanted in place. I figure since it was a beta, I’d read reviews just to confirm it, and your review pretty much summed up what I already knew. Bummer. :(

  30. zaphod42 says:

    @MikePerry I really wanted to like DarkSpore, I really loved the idea of it. I have ONE HUGE problem though, one that nobody seems to have brought up yet.
    Why on earth do I have to play with premade heroes, if you’ve got the spore editor?!? The whole fun thing in spore was to create and slowly evolve my own creatures. I got really excited about darkspore, got into the beta, installed it, and then found out that I had to pick from a few premade heroes, and make minor cosmetic changes to them. WHAT? Why not let me build a hero? I understand you can’t program a billion types of abilities, but even if I was restricted to ONLY the abilities of the heroes you guys already made, I’d still like to be able to make my own bodies, design my own heroes from scratch. Even if I have to pick from a hero and as far as gameplay is concerned they’re identical, I want to start from scratch. Your heroes were already very polished, I felt like they were complete and I shouldn’t bother them too much.
    Also, No, this is not like WoW. MMOs charge monthly fees, yes, partially to cover server maintenance and upkeep. But you also get patches. You talked about how you guys will continue to patch the game after release; but thats not the same as MMO patches. MMO patches have NEW CONTENT. Thats part of what you’re paying the monthly fee for, a constantly new experience with a team of developers working around the clock to add in new levels, items, etc. (although, Valve have been supporting TF2 with new content for free). You guys are just doing balance patches; these days thats expected from all multiplayer videogames for free. Starcraft had free patches. Diablo had free patches. Torchlight, Age of Empires, Crysis, … I could list every PC game in the world. Sorry, that doesn’t make you an MMO. Its nice that you went through the effort to store saves online and have the leaderboards. But I’m a game developer myself; don’t feed us this hogwash about how a client / server architecture is SO MUCH more complex to design, and makes it so you couldn’t or it would be infeasible to run a local server. Yeah, I know you do the gameplay on the server, and the clients are programmed to be very thin, to avoid hacking. Great, thats actually standard business practice now. That doesn’t exclude you from also having a single player option.
    I’m not necessarily saying you even should have done single player, just explaining the difference, why people are getting upset when you say “there’s no DRM!” and you don’t seem to understand why they don’t buy what you’re saying.

  31. Tetragrammaton says:

    (reply fail)

  32. Rii says:

    I think it’s fair to say that, all else being equal, it’s more difficult to have empathy for, identify with, or otherwise develop an attachment to a non-humanoid character than a humanoid one. But appearance is hardly an insurmountable barrier: Portal 2 demonstrates that quite handily. It just means that there’s more work to be done in establishing and developing the character. And from what I’ve read here, Darkspore has a number of factors besides the ‘alien’ thing working against it in this respect: character-switching, the whole ‘mix n’ match parts’ thing, and what characterisation there is being limited to text bios in a classic case of telling rather than showing.

    Mind you I do like the lil’ fella headlining this article. But his in-game manifestation? Who knows.

    • Wulf says:

      I disagree with the first point. I have more empathy for my dog than I do for any living human.

      I’m not disagreeing with your post as a whole, I’m just pointing out that it’s not the same for everyone, and that generally I find that it’s easier to sympathise with my dog than it is with any person I know of. And perhaps that’s why it comes easier for me to link with non-humanoid characters in games.

  33. KikYu0 says:

    I like the game and I spend already a lot of Hours with..
    Every “Stage” get Harder, and you got to Optimize your Group(s) and their Equipment – Try it alone or with some friends does not change the Difficult much so i think its well balanced.
    I would not use the word “Grind” but for some ppls maybe it’s just Grinding, you Chain 6-1 to 6-4 and hope for some Good Gear to Solve 7-1, maybe in a row then you go for 7-2 and 7-3 (that’s the point I am actually) and it is still fun to Run through the Levels. You can Waste 15 Minuets for one Level and if you like you can even waste Three Hours and Chain a lot of Levels.
    Whatever, it was worth the 28€. (Check Key Shops)
    Sorry for my Horrible English.

  34. Bobtree says:

    Alec Meer’s 5/10 review on Eurogamer: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-05-03-darkspore-review

    • Mac says:

      That’s a bit harsh – 7/10 for me. Certainly playable, but nothing to write home about.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah. There have certainly been some total bullshit reviews about this game, and all because it’s just a little bit different. This is going to send a nice old noisy “MAKE US THE USUAL OLD CRAP!” message to all developers out there. Good job, journalists! I admit that this wasn’t the greatest game ever, but I like it because it is a bit unusual. But with bullshit reviews you tend to have them being afraid of trying anything new, since it’s all based on Metacritic scores.

      And honestly, I can’t call anything like a 5/10 score as anything other than barrel-scraping sensationalism, it’s just a click grabber, it’s being exceptionally hard on a game just to garner extra clicks. Even Eurogamer Italy is more reputable than that. (They gave it 7/10.)

    • DeepSleeper says:

      I’m gonna get banned today or something, I know, but I have to try.
      IT’S CALLED.
      A DIFFERENT OPINION.
      YOU NARROW-MINDED ASS.
      How can you hold yourself up as the GRAND CHAMPION of the open-minded free-thinkers when the moment, the very INSTANT someone expresses an opinion that dissents from yours, you’re there to ascribe them a motive (quite independent of their own statements) and then vigorously AGREE WITH YOURSELF so hard you’re patting yourself on the back with both hands at once?
      How can you do this? How does it not register as hypocritical? How are you not filled with so much irony that Minecraft players attack you with pickaxes?
      I’ve seen you in action enough places to know that you’re not kidding, you’re not trolling, it’s not a joke, dream, or imaginary story. It’s like it genuinely is impossible for you to believe that someone can hold a differing opinion and NOT be some kind of sub-fungus lifeform. It’s not that you’re TOO RIGHT and our tiny minds can’t handle your AMAZING CORRECTNESS. It’s that you come off as a
      TREMENDOUS
      CONDESCENDING
      ASSHOLE.
      I realize you think you’re right. You ALWAYS think you’re right. It’s WHAT YOU DO. But -stop-. Consider that maybe, just maybe, some people don’t like the game for VALID reasons. Not made up ones, that you have carried from your Fantasy Realm on Planet Wulf, but reasons that make inherent sense to them the way yours do to you. Is there room for that, in your perception? Is there room for dissent? Can you handle not having your opinions be Universal Truth 100% Of The Time?
      I don’t believe you can.

      …with that I’m off the net for the rest of the day, if I have to look at one more post on this subject blood is gonna shoot out of my nose and eyes and ears. RPS staff, email me if I’m banned or anything, I can take it. It was worth it.

    • Jimbo says:

      Ha! You’re going to talk about people writing bullshit? You are so full of shit it’s unbelievable. Half of your posts are passive-aggressive bullshit, and the other half are needlessly verbose, scroll-wheel-finger-RSI-inducing, self-aggrandising bullshit which read like extracts from an angsty teenager’s diary. Having to scoll past the mountain of shit you keep posting is hands down the worst thing about using RPS. The sooner this site has an ‘Ignore Wulf’ function the better.

      Is that a bit harsh? Whoopsy daisy. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it I guess.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Yeesh. You didn’t have to make him know how Iraq feels.

    • svge says:

      I would say Wulf accounts for at least 30% of all the comments in this thread. He has written more in one thread than I wrote in the whole first year of my degree (granted it was only my first year but it was still kind of important…ish). Imagine if that energy was put to something that actually mattered.

    • Spectre-7 says:

      I <3 you, DeepSleeper. :)

      Honestly, the comments around here have become difficult to read over the past few months, and I find myself not posting for fear of saying something nasty that I'll later regret. I'm not looking to quash anyone's self-expression or anything, but when their excessive logorrhea and constant condescension are forcing everyone else out of conversations, it’s time for something to be done.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      That is an amazing rant, DeepSleeper. Kudos!

    • Jake says:

      Hear, hear Deepsleeper.

      In Guild Wars I am going to play the blandest, most generic human I can possibly make, and I’ll just flaunt my mediocrity and lack of imagination in front of all the bloody Charr.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      I intend to go Sylvari Thief, because I enjoy the idea of a neophile plant person with no sense of personal possession. I could go full-on Spite Mode, but I’m not.

      I’m also buying Darkspore the second it goes on sale because I liked the beta, so there’s that.

  35. Draco18s says:

    Nothing anyone has said so far has made me want to play Darkspore. Anything that’s been said in its favor has either been a lie, or blatant misconception or misunderstanding (“There’s no grinding, hero level is based on the items you have.” And how do you get the items? Grinding)

    I’ve even had someone tell me that the game is neigh-unbeatable as a single player. Namely mission 6-4 is “hard to beat, even as a group.” But there we hit a problem: I buy a coop game to play with friends. My friends are not always available at the same time I am, and playing a multiplayer game (with NO voice chat capability built in, where it desperately needs it–you try fighting when your fighters are typing chat messages) with random people is not as enjoyable.

  36. BobsLawnService says:

    I think the whole issue about the DRM/Always Online MMO could have easily been solved if EA had just marketed it as an MMO lite with the option of single player from the beginning rather than the other way around. There really is nothing wrong with this client/server model. Peoples expectations are just all muddled up.

    • malkav11 says:

      There absolutely is something wrong with it. Anytime you don’t absolutely have to tie a game to external servers for core game functionality (and, again, I’ve yet to see anything suggesting Darkspore does need this), doing so anyway IS WRONG. It cripples the longevity of the game, it shrinks the potential audience, and it limits the options of those people who do pick it up.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Tell that to WoW.

  37. James Murff says:

    I could’ve sworn the levels were randomly generated. Each time I played a level again in the beta I got a new layout. Granted, there were a few elements that were static, but every ARPG does that. Did they change it for the final release?

  38. Josh W says:

    This feels to me like a game I’d want to split screen, if only you could play with two mice on the same computer, or maybe having a friend over with their laptop to play it with. It’s got that boardgame/beat-em-up feeling of a really nice set of mechanics wrapped around a basic theme, with a tinge of mtg.
    It’s probably true that a bit more coherence and depth in the art direction could have helped the game (that’s my take on the “soulless” complaint), so there’s more in-built narrative to your conflict, maybe some tinges of consideration of the moral stances implicit in the approach of the enemy faction:
    “Someone has been turning the genetic engineering we did against us, better turn it back against them again” doesn’t have as much teeth as “That guy made zombies from descecrated corpses, how rude, guess I’m fine to kill them again”
    So you’d build the background of the story into details of enemies and stuff, as a story pass after the large scale balancing has been done, adding significance to the stuff now it’s been fixed in place. You could then build up atmosphere while helping people to learn enemy types and their weaknesses etc.
    But with all that in mind, it’s still a game apparently based around soft counters, timing and synergy, like marvel vs capcom, and starcraft/diablo-ish spacial micro, with added customisation/risk reward stuff on top. I think I heard something about an AI director at one point too. As a mechanical stew, that sounds pretty interesting, but for it to engage me, I’ll need to find a way to play it with someone in person.