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Beloved for its unique graphical style, strong indie game vibe and excellent playability, Darwinia was an instant hit when it released back in 2005. Nearly a decade later and the games simple but striking visuals haven’t aged at all, making this an excellent classic title to revisit on your PC. In the game, you will direct the normally peace loving AI entities known as the Darwinians as they fight back against the insidious computer viruses that have started overrunning their newly created digital homeland.
Darwinia should install on modern systems without any problems. If you purchased the game on CD, simply insert the CD-ROM into your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If the installation process does not start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the SETUP.EXE file manually. If you purchased a download copy of the game, simply download it and run (open) it to start the installation process.
Before you start playing you should install the latest patch for the game. Patch 1.5.11 can be downloaded directly from Introversion Software here. If you have a copy of the game on CD-ROM you will definitely need to download and install this patch before playing. Users who purchased the game as a digital download may find their copy of the game is already pre-patched to the latest version. To check which version you have, start the game and then press the Escape (Esc) key. On the menu that now appears, click on Options, then Other Options. The version number will be displayed in the options panel. If it reads 1.5.11 you already have the latest version. If not, download and install the patch from the link given above.
Tweaking visual quality
There are several options you can change in the game to increase the quality of the games graphics. Darwinia was not an overly demanding game when it was originally released and most modern PCs should have no problems running the game in full quality. To get started, let’s take a look at the Screen Options menu first. Start the game and watch or skip the introduction. Now, press the Escape (Esc) key and from the menu that appears, choose “Options” and then “Screen Options”. The menu shown below will then appear.
Darwinia will detect these settings for you, so you shouldn’t normally need to change anything here. Resolution should be set to the same resolution as your desktop. For the vast majority of PC users this will be correct. You can improve the games performance by reducing the resolution but this shouldn’t be necessary on a modern PC. Check that “Colour Depth” is set to 32 bit and “Z Buffer Depth” is set to 24 bit, all other options can be left at the defaults. Click on “Apply” if you made any changes and then “Close” to exit the menu.
On the main options menu you can also access the Graphics Options menu. On this menu, simply check that everything is set to “High” or “Full”. Again, you can turn these settings down if you find the game doesn’t run well, but that’s unlikely to be necessary.
Tweaking sound quality
There are a few options you can tweak to make sure you are getting the very best sound from the game. Open the options menu (by pressing Esscape) and this time select “Options” and then “Sound Options”. The sound options are configured for high quality by default, but you can turn “Mix Frequency” up to “44khz high quality” and “Number of channels” to “64” to make sure you’re getting the absolute best sound quality the game can offer.
You will notice on this window that the option for Hardware accelerated sound is unavailable. That’s normal for any game running on Windows Vista or later, as these operating systems simply don’t support the required DirectSound components. For some games, you can use software like Creative ALchemy to restore the hardware accelerated 3D sound but this doesn’t work with Darwinia. When we tried the game with ALchemy it simply crashed back to the desktop with a Directsound error.
With the latest patch, the game fully supports both Xbox 360 controllers and keyboard and mouse, so use whichever control method you prefer.
If you want to chat to your friends or take screenshots or videos while you play Darwinia, you could use the popular Xfire utility. Unfortunately the latest patch for Darwinia breaks compatibility with Xfire. Since Xfire no longer gets updates this is unlikely to be fixed. We briefly tested The Raptr in-game overlay and although the game is not officially supported we didn’t encounter any issues.
Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.