Christmas! The first preview version of Multiwinia arrived in the office today, making us all aquiver. I ripped into it with childish haste, by which I mean to say that I slowly installed it and then carefully typed in my 27-digit authentication key exactly as it appeared in the covering letter. And inside, a surprise! My dear old friend, immortalised in polygonal gold.
This is the Capture-the-Statue game mode, in which you have to direct your tribe of Multiwinians to painstakingly drag enormous gold figurines all the way back to your base, while defending them from enemy tribes. Each time a statue is captured or breaks (don't carry them off cliffs), a different one spawns. The first I nabbed was the Utah Teapot, a classic test object for 3D rendering engines. Next, a scale replica of the entire Darwinian world from the first game. Then a giant weightlifting trophy. Then a big cube with very familiar corner-bevels.
Multiwinia's beautiful tribute to the unspeaking box features a little Darwinian in place of the heart on some of the sides, just to leave its stamp. And, of course, it has a ridiculous psychological influence on you: even if it means losing control of another statue, sacrificing two spawn points and using up all your power-ups, God damn it you've got to have the Companion Cube. Bring it to me, my pretties! Run as fast as your inanimate stick-legs will carry you!
Of those I've talked to about it, the guys at Valve are just as big fans of Darwinia as I know Introversion are of Half-Life and Portal. And Multiwinia is of course going to be released on Steam. So this is not going to be a case of "Call the lawyers!" as much as "Get a room, you two."