Darkspore, EA’s latest sci-fi roleplaying game, has very little in common with Will Wright’s 2008 evolution simulator, Spore. Darkspore has more in common with epic dungeon crawler Diablo. While Spore shot for the top in terms of innovation, Darkspore largely treads on well worn paths
You take on the role of a Crogenitor, a powerful being who once travelled the cosmos, genetically altering the DNA of creatures. Apparently, a few Crogenitors got a little carried away with the E-DNA (“exponential” DNA), the resulting instability led to reckless mutations called “Darkspore” running amok. You’ve woken up from a deep cryogenic sleep and you’ll have to reassemble an army to take back the universe.
It’s all a little hokey, but for a Diablo-style dungeon crawler I didn’t expect much. I’m even willing to overlook that your customisable characters are given the inherited name of “Genetic Heroes.” all mine where called Finite1, (Come on why could I not call one bobo).
Between each of its six missions, a voiced computer named “Helix move’s the story forward with brief videos and verbal communication. There are no other characters to interact with and very little context to grasp while jumping from level to level.
The story does not really inspire you however it does explain what has happened and what is going on and why you need to do the next mission. If you are looking for much in the way of an objective-based missions, you will find this in Darkspore as it tasks you to hit certain objectives to allow access to special medals these include white, silver and gold which then turn up your chances in getting a rare item from the gambling feature that becomes available after you complete the level.
The hacking and slashing does feel really great, the controls responding as you would expect from this genre, and there’s a wide assortment of loot to keep you replaying the stages. The dungeons themselves come in a variety of flavours, stretching to weird rainforest, space deck or lunar surface. The maps are generally easy to navigate, and the levels flowed very well which encourages you down winding passageways toward your goal.
Your Heroes will accompany you into each of these missions as a squad of three. After each level ends, returning back to your ship provides the opportunity to enter the game’s Arsenal Mode. Here in the ship’s lower belly, it’s possible to unlock new heroes and assign them into a squad. There are over one hundred unlockable characters. That’s not to say you’ll need any more customizable creatures; the large assortment actually becomes a bit of an organizational nightmare which for Pokémon fans they going to love it, however even though there are 100 heroes to unlock there is only four variants to twenty five heroes.
Heroes come in three classes: Sentinels, who occupy traditional tank roles in party-based combat, Tempests, who possess ranged attacks and Ravagers, who act as your typical DPS/rogue warriors. Keeping the three character squads loaded with one of each class is generally an obvious choice, but character “genesis” types can complicate things. The genesis types signify additional creature perks, but once you enter a mission, enemies of the same genesis type will inflict double damage to your funky looking hero. It’s an interesting concept, tactically sorting your squads to ensure maximum defence and offence.
The one element in Darkspore that both connects it to Spore and differentiates it from other roleplaying games of its type is the character customisation.Forget about creating a “from scratch” character, as Darkspore’s customisation boils down to slapping on items, rescaling them and changing skin tones. Characters can be customised with items looted during missions by entering the Editor Mode. Dragging and dropping a pair of spaulders onto its shoulders, for instance, will adjust the creature’s relative stats. The items can be placed nearly anywhere on the hero’s body and scaled to a size that pleases you.
While it’s possible to play solo (inexplicably, online only) or player-vs-player matches the game shines during online co-op matches. Whether playing with friends or using the game’s surprisingly effective matchmaking, cooperative mode is the best reason to check out Darkspore. It’s one thing to grind through a level alone, switching between your three selected heroes, but nothing compares to the pleasure of tackling a hard boss with another player. I was having a particularly difficult time with one stage, but adding a co-op buddy (and his ranged healer) made the challenge much more enjoyable.
Overall this is game is fun, easy to pick up and play with tons of customisable characters, you can unlock bonus squads from the in game shop, which will allow you to have a selection of squads available for your missions. I found with some missions my main squad (Squad one) was not a suitable choice. I found that the game requires you to use tactics as each dungeon will throw at you a variety of enemies and you really need to choose the correct squad of heroes to take them on.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.