Published on April 24th, 2011 | by Kyle LeDuch0
Darkspore – Preview
If there’s one universal principle, it really isn’t easy trying to describe what Darkspore ‘is’ to other people, at least, not without drawing comparisons. It was once described to us by a friend as a kind of ‘Diablo meets Spore’ setup, but it’s not until you finally get to grips with the game that you realise how apt that comparison really is. Throw some Halo and generic Sci-fi elements into the gaming mix, and you then have an experience that’s both oddly unique and riddled with déjà vu.
The official Action/RPG label works, although it’s definitely more action than RPG. The way the UI is set up, the way you leisurely plod from A to B, exploring every nook and cranny to make sure you haven’t missed anything, while making sure to blast any fools that get in your way is pure dungeon crawler – even if it is on a scientific platform orbiting a black hole.
The Darkspore themselves are very reminiscent of Halo’s Flood, although they lack that kind of nightmarish quality. And then of course you use the Creature Editor from Spore to upgrade, design and manipulate your genetic heroes.
There is a story to follow, but it’s more of a sideshow than anything else, as the experience is geared more towards loot and evolution. The player represents one of the last of a race of beings who were masters of genetics, however in experimenting with a special type of DNA called E-DNA, they inadvertently gave rise to the Darkspore. These inherently evil mutated beings wiped out most of the Crogenitors and ravaged the Galaxy, and it’s up to you and your squad to stop them.
You start off with a handful of ‘genetic heroes’, and venture from world to world wiping out Darkspore, as well as collecting parts to upgrade your squad. Those creatures have levels associated with them, just like your Crogenitor self, and you level up by collecting ‘DNA’ dropped by the enemies that you defeat. The higher your Crogenitor level, the more genetic heroes you can activate, but also certain unlocks in the Darkspore’s in-game store become available for you to purchase as well. For instance, players aren’t granted access to PvP until you get to level 10 and can purchase the unlock. We can see hero management getting tiresome over time, though.
There are several other elements to the game as well, including easy-to-use co-op facilitation. You can team up with buddies for the harder levels and special challenges dubbed Chaining, where you play several levels in succession – without being allowed to re-equip or re-arm – as a bit of a gamble to get rarer rewards.
Darkspore boasts a refreshingly unique approach, and a good evolution of the Spore engine. It’ll be misunderstood, and will probably only appeal to a niche audience at first, but we suspect there’s a good and solid game here that promises hours of fun in both single-player and online. With the added community support features, as well as a focus on collectables, this will be a neat little title for gamers to sink their teeth into, especially if they want something different.