Darkspore has recently been made available for download via Steam as an open beta, allowing folks to try it out prior to a proper release. As an aside, this is pretty smart since fans will get a chance to play the game before its release.
Note however that a beta is not a ‘finished’ game, rather it is one near completion and may still contain bugs. Sometimes this gets used as a way of marketing a game, other times the game is in open beta for good reason. Fortunately in this case the beta is quite stable and feels complete.
The game centers around a race or organization called the Crogenitors, who manipulated DNA to create defenders for the galaxy. Unfortunately, some particularly ambitious Crogenitors created a new form of life called Darkspore which turned on their masters and drove them out of the galaxy. Years later, you return as one of those Crogenitors with an intent to undo the mistakes of the past.
The game can be played single player or cooperatively, and plays in a manner similar to the Diablo series of games. There’s a birds eye view camera and you click on the map, objects and enemies in order to move around and interact with the game world. Each of the available warriors you can call into battle have a primary attack and a selection of special or power attacks which unlock as you progress through the game.
There’s a really strong sense of a universe on the brink of collapse, your only contact and deliverer of information being a shipboard AI (There’s also the other players but that’s separate from the games inbuilt aesthetic) that relays details about the settings, creatures and locations that you visit during the game.
Combat is pretty typical for a game fitting the Diablo mould, items will drop from enemies and certain other objects such as obelisks with which you upgrade the equipment of your soldiers you go into battle with. There are 5 types of creatures at your command – Plasma, Quantum, Bio(logical), Cyber and Necro. Enemies that are the same type as your current warrior will do double damage to you.
Fortunately you can simply warp in a different member of your three creature squad to compensate, a lot of the gameplay revolves around switching between the creatures to deal with different situations. There are a large number of additional warriors you can unlock as you complete missions each with a back-story to go with them.
I’d recommend playing the game cooperatively with friends or other random players, as the game can be oddly lonely when you play it by yourself. This is partly due to the end of the universe aesthetics of the game, a little banter between players is always nice to liven things up a bit.
The game is due out 26th April in North America & 28th April in the EU on PC.