One of the most exciting aspects of digital distribution of games is the potential it has to give independent developers an outlet for efforts too innovative, ambitious, or just plain different to get a second glance from entrenched publishers and retailers.
Valve Software's Steam was among the digital distribution services to make a splash in the industry, and the developer is now expanding its offerings to include non-Valve games. Lionhead developer Mark Healey's mouse-driven fighter Rag Doll Kung Fu is already available through Steam, and today the company announced that it will shortly be joined by Introversion's underground UK hit Darwinia.
Darwinia is a genre-bending mix of real-time strategy, arcade action, and puzzle games. The entire game takes place within a virtual theme park, where a computer virus is running rampant and threatening the park's digital denizens with deletion. With a streamlined, mouse-driven interface and unique aesthetic, the UK release of Darwinia has garnered praise not only from critics, but also from developers like Valve.
"After playing the game around the office, there didn't seem to be a reason why a game as great as Darwinia wasn't available to gamers worldwide," said Valve director of marketing Doug Lombardi. "When everyone gets their chance to play it, we think they'll be staying up all night protecting Darwinians, just like us."
Darwinia will begin preloading December 1 and will go live through Valve's Steam service December 14 for $19.95.