Charles Darwin is probably best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. Therefore, it seems most befitting that Evolution: The Video Game launched on the 12th of February: the day Charles Darwin was born.
This particular video game is an adaptation of the board game Evolution, released in 2014 by North Star Games. Both the digital and physical version of the game share the same objective; players must create and evolve different species, keep them from starvation, expand the population, and eliminate the competition.
Each game is based around a shared watering hole where every player deposits food before every turn. There is no way of predicting how much food your opponents are going to layout. The trick is to not place too much food as it will help your opponents grow when they snatch it all up, but you also don't want to risk there not being enough food and starving out your own species. If the latter happens, you can start a new species in the next turn, but it will cost you points.
With every turn, each player is provided with a limited set of cards. These can be used to increase either the size of the creature, boost the population, or start an entirely new species. Or you can use the cards to give your species special traits printed on the cards, for ,example a teamwork trait that shares food amongst your species, a hard shell to discourage attacks, or the ability to climb. There are a limited number of traits you can add to each species, and you can not add the same trait twice. There is also a limit to population and body size for each species.
Every species is a herbivore by default. There are cards available that turn your species into a carnivore - you no longer need food from the watering hole, instead, you prey on the creatures around it. However, you can only attack creatures with a body size smaller than yours, and if opponents have traits such as 'warning call', it becomes impossible to attack them. You may even end up having to feed on one of your own species if you wish to keep your carnivorous species alive.
You can see which traits and sizes your opponents add to their species, which means you can strategically counter them. Are your opponents snatching up all the food? Evolve a long neck to get to the food first. Are your opponents evolving a few carnivores? Better increase the body size of all your species. Your opponent has a warning call to deter your carnivores? Evolve an 'ambush' trait to cancel it out.
At the end of the game, all points are counted. The more food, species and traits you have gathered in the game, the more points you earn. Needless to say, the player with the most points wins. In order to get the most points, you should try to keep your own species well-fed whilst starving out the competition by either snatching up all the food before they do or feast on their species by evolving some carnivores.
Evolution: The Video Game is accessible for players of all skill levels; to learn the game, a friendly professor (aptly named Darwin) will show you the ropes and give you handy tips whilst you learn as you play. When you are ready to venture out on your own, you will unlock unique AI bosses and once defeated, they will be available in your single-player menu to play against at any time. Evolution has quite a diverse set of AI players, which means you can't predict your opponent's moves and therefore you get a unique experience in every game.
The rules are clear and you will likely pick them up quickly, and with thousands of different possible trait combinations the game allows for unique personal play-styles - there is no wrong way to play. The benefit of digital tabletop games is that it lets you focus solely on the play: no need to set anything up or manage the rules - the digital version does it all for you. You also don't need to gather anyone around, you can play cross-platform against friends on iOS, Android, and Steam.
You can also join a multiplayer game which has a ranking system so that you will only play against players of your own skill level. You can also keep to the single-player mode as the AI opponents are unpredictive enough to keep you interested. Releasing Evolution: The Video Game on mobile devices makes the replay value especially high - we have found ourselves playing a quick game on the go on more occasions than we thought we would beforehand. The game may cost a bit more than your average app, but you get your money's worth with a fully finished game that offers high replay value - no microtransactions, no pay to win.
Evolution: The Video Game hasn't just copied the board game to a digital medium: they added visuals and sounds to enhance your gameplay. The game works well on both computer, tablet or phone screens. We have played the mobile version, and the game translates well to touchscreen: it's responsive, smooth, and the animations are crisp. The UI is easy to understand, allowing new players to jump in easily. You can adjust how close you want to be to the board and how fast the animations go. However, while you can turn off the music, you can not turn the visuals effects off: if you're after a quick game, you can not quickly skip through.
The board game version of Evolution has evolved into a fun, strategic and streamlined digital game. We are still finding new ways to create the ultimate apex species and seeing as though the board game has gotten a few expansions, it is likely the digital version will also see a few updates in the future.