‘Evolution: The Video Game’ Celebrates Charles Darwin’s Birthday

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Evolution Digital banner

If Charles Darwin were alive today, he’d be celebrating his 210th birthday (and probably marveling at his own survival). So it seems fitting that Evolution: The Video Game officially launches today. What’s more, North Star Games is giving away 1,000 copies of the Evolution board game to celebrate!

I’ve written a lot about Evolution already, but in case you’re new to it, it’s a tabletop game that blends science and play—you’ll get to see evolutionary biology and survival of the fittest in action, and you’ll have fun doing it. The digital version of the game, which has been in development for about four years now, is gorgeous. (I’ve been able to play a few beta versions along the way.)

Here’s a trailer for the game:

I love that it’s not just a literal translation of board game to digital, but that it actually uses the digital medium to add visuals that enhance the game and aren’t just bells and whistles. For instance, while you still use “cards” to add traits to your species and food to the watering hole, the species boards do away with the wooden cubes and just show the numerical values. When a species becomes a carnivore, the paw print grows claws and the illustration changes to an aggressive version of the creature—it’s easy to look around and see which species you need to look out for. When various traits activate, the card illustration pops up and animates so you know which trait is linked to the effect.

Evolution game campaign
The campaign takes you on a journey across the map. Image: North Star Games Digital

The tutorial walks you through the game so that you learn all the basics by playing. If you’re playing alone, you can tackle the campaign, which pits you against various bosses in various environments. I like the way that the campaign introduces the trait cards, so that you start from a limited number of traits available and learn how they interact. For instance, the “Warning Call” trait protects adjacent species from attack, but “Ambush” overcomes it; these two traits are introduced together in one scenario.

Evolution Digital - quick match
Play with your friends, or use Quick Match to find an open seat. Image: North Star Games Digital

The digital version will also allow you to play multiplayer with people all over the world: create an account to play games with your friends, or use the Quick Match feature to find other players! There’s a ranking system so that as you play, you’ll be paired up with people who match your skill level.

Evolution Game rank up
“Discoveries” are achievements that help you rank up. Image: North Star Games Digital

Earn “discoveries” to rank up by playing against specific types of players, winning, and maintaining a winning streak.

One of the nice things about digital tabletop games is that the game manages all the rules lawyering. You don’t have to worry about somebody forgetting to put in a food card for the watering hole, or incorrectly interpreting a trait card. The games also play a little more quickly than the tabletop game, because the app takes care of dealing out cards, moving cubes and boards around, and so on—you get to focus on the play.

I’ve been a fan of Evolution ever since I first played the prototype nearly five years ago, and I love the way that the game has continued to develop new traits, adapting to the marketplace. Only time will tell for sure, but I think this latest evolution into a digital form will have a pretty good chance of survival.

Evolution: The Video Game is available on Steam ($14.99), iOS ($9.99), and Android ($9.99), with a 20% discount until February 18. The iOS and Android versions are both free to try: you’ll get the tutorial, the first 9 levels of the campaign, easy AI opponents, and one free multiplayer game per day, with an in-app purchase to unlock the full game.

Evolution board game

And now, about that giveaway: North Star Games will be giving away 10 copies of the Evolution board game per day for the next 100 days (winner pays shipping costs). You can enter by downloading the Free to Try version of Evolution: The Video Game and playing a multiplayer game.

Visit the website for download links, more about the game, and information about the giveaway!

Disclosure: I received a beta key to try out the digital version for review purposes.

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