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Assemble an army of living weapons!
According to the story, a race known as the Crogenitors were a space-faring race that was really good at altering DNA. To that end, they created a bunch of 'Genetic Heroes'. Eventually, they discovered E-DNA (E being short for Exponential-DNA) , an amino acid that could bring about evolutionary changes in hours that had previously taken millennia.
As experiments of this sort are known to do, the E-DNA project went pear-shaped quickly, causing the birth of a virus-like Hive Mind known as the Darkspore. Assimilating some Crogenitors and killing most of them (taking the Genetic Heros with them), the few surviving Crogenitors were put onto sleeper ships, to be awakened when their on-board computers had figured out how to use E-DNA without the whole Making-Darkspore result.
You take the role of one such Crogenitor, awakened after your onboard CPU has solved the corruptive properties of E-DNA. Rebuilding the Genetic Heroes of old, you're tasked with destroying all Darkspore.
- Abusive Precursors: Crogenitor Ingto, the creator of Necrogenesis and overseer of Nocturna was a very nasty piece of work if the results of his manipulation are any indication. For starters, he somehow managed to shatter the membrane separating the world of the living and the world of the dead, which caused horrible mutations in the various species of Nocturna. Mutations that included most Nocturni children being born agonizingly crippled and dying shortly after birth. Then, of course, is the fact he created people like Arakna, who's almost as pleasant as he is.
- As You Know: The game starts out with one. Justifiable, since the player's character has been in cryosleep forever.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: While you never are directly rewarded with cosmetic rewards, every item that drops can be turned into a Detail Item (items without stats) that can be added to characters.
- After the End: The Crogenitor civilization is gone, overrun by the Darkspore. The best you can do is get even.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Compared to Spore, which barely had any blood or gore (if you can even call it that, i.e. in the Cell and Creature Stages). Defeated enemies leave nice big blood stains on the environment, and critical-killed enemies explode into a shower of blood and guts. For cybergenetic enemies, the blood is replaced with oil.
- Boss Battle: At the end of every stage. It's usually a Giant Mook and a small army of Darkspore...unless you're on the X-4 levels, in which case your opponent is a Darkspore known as a Destructor, with their own attacks and patterns.
- Combination Attack: Each member of your squad lends one of their four abilities to the other two, for a total of six. Half the fun is finding the best combinations.
- Color-Coded Elements: Plasmagenetic creatures are red/orange, Quantumgenetics are blue, Biogenetics are green, Cybergenetics are gray and yellow, and Necrogenetics are purple/black. This makes the ability to customize your Hero's colors somewhat counterproductive, although you can still add different-colored body patterns to make them reasonably distinct.
- Like in World of Warcraft, loot is also color-coded by quality. In ascending order of potency, White items are standard, Green are uncommon, Blue are "rarified" and Purple are "purified". There's also Yellow, Orange and Red, which are the uncommon, rarified and purified versions of special reward loot found only at the end of a mission.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Necrogenetic creatures are damned dark, with soul-sucking abilities. However, they aren't really evil, compared to the Darkspore.
- Darker and Edgier: Yeah, Darkspore. No 'social' creatures here.
- Disc One Nuke: Sage is pretty strong compared to the other heroes in the beginning. He has massive healing, passively spawns two adds that fight with him, has a decent AoE that also snares enemies, and most importantly, is the first Tempest (caster-style unit) that you get, and his blaster shots also heal himself, his pets, and nearby allies for a portion of the damage dealt. He can easily handle anything while the two ravagers you start with take a lot more damage and have to be in close range. As the game progresses, other heroes end up catching up to him, particularly Viper and Arborus.
- This is assuming that you're playing with friends, because most of his abilities involve healing and supporting allies. In Single-player, he's very lackluster, with his only gimmick being the two pets that he summons. The same is true for Meditron.
- In fact, this is true for most of the first few heroes that you have access to. Blitz becomes somewhat outclassed by Krel, Arakna has better attacks than Wraith, and Maldri is mostly superior to Vex.
- Elemental Powers: All five genetic types, to an extent:
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Of a limited sort. There are five "genesis types", which are never super effective against each other; rather, heroes are weak to attacks of their own genesis type. Note that this only applies in the PvE campaign- nothing of this sort happens in PvP.
- Elite Mook: "Elite" Darkspore, which can randomly appear throughout the stages or be mutated from a standard Darkspore by a Mutation Agent. They're bigger and stronger variations of normal Darkspore that have their names written in red; below the health bar, they have a few words of descriptive text that modifies their attributes (for example, an Elite with the "tough" modifier has double the health). To a lesser extent, the "Lieutenant" Darkspore are also this, being larger, more powerful, and rarer than the standard "minion" Darkspore. Both Lieutenants and Minions can become Elites.
- Enemy Mine: Many of the Necrogenetic heroes fought on opposite sides of the same war before the Darkspore showed up.
- Final Exam Boss: The Corruptor. He can shift his genetic type at will and create portals that summon any Minion-level Darkspore that matches his current genesis type.
- Fridge Horror: Exactly how much of the flora and fauna on the planets you've visited have been corrupted by E-DNA?
- Good Is Not Nice: Going by the Genetic Hero profiles, roughly half of the Heroes you resurrect were not good people; an assortment of scoundrels, burglars and living weapons of mass destruction before being turned on the Darkspore. Sometimes before augmentation, even.
- Necrogenetic Heroes are the worst of the lot. Arakna, Skar and Revenant are all super-soldiers working for the Nocturni Legion, a military force trying to enslave all of Nocturna. Arakna is by far the worst of these three, given she tears out the souls of her victims and feeds them to her children. Jinx, on the other hand, backstabbed her own people to join the Nocturni Legion, and then after ascending to their highest ranks backstabbed the Legion as well for good measure.
- Seraph-XS is implied to have killed the entire rest of her species and/or assembly line due to competition for resources and survival.
- Tork was a gigantic prick who used his spore powers (being a mushroom creature) to put people to sleep and steal all their stuff, before he was captured by Crogenitor Astra and experimented on until he went insane enough to use his powers for good.
- Maldri was nothing more than a common burglar who happened to break into Zelem's laboratory after he was killed and zap himself with a device that gave him his powers.
- Zrin was rotting in jail for some undisclosed crime (though he is described as having been a gangster) when the Darkspore showed up and one of the Crogenitors gave him his powers out of sheer desperation.
- It Got Worse: If you posit that Darkspore takes place in, and after Spore, it makes things really depressing. Those lovable races you made in Spore? They all worked on E-DNA, were practically wiped out, and the few remaining Spore Creatures are essentially weapons only.
- Kill It with Fire: Krel's, Char's, and Zrin's attacks involve this. The other Plasma heroes can do this too, if they use the Flame Surge (A huge wave of fire which burns everything in its path) or Meteor Strike (A large, flaming meteor that stuns enemies) variant abilties.
- Lego Genetics: Given that it's based on Spore, this should be obvious. Works with non-organic weapons and armor, too.
- Lightning Bruiser: Heroes in the "Ravager" class. They're low-health and go down quickly, but they're quick as the wind and hit like a truck. Maldri is perhaps the best example, because he has an amazing attack that involves rapidly jumping between enemies 6 times, at lightning speed, dealing impressive amounts of damage.
- Blitz is a literal example of a Lightning Bruiser. He's of the Plasma genesis type, which involves manipulation of hot elements like fire and electricity. And one of his attacks, called "Ride the Lightning", involves shooting across the screen to hit a cursor-targeted enemy.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Killing an enemy with a critical hit causes them to explode into an impressive shower of gore, unless they're Cybergenetic in which case they burst into a huge spray of oil or something else vaguely olive-colored. This can get flat out silly when dealing with large hordes - it can result in your triumphant heroes walking away from a newly created gigantic pool of blood. If the blood is turned off, however, the enemies explode in a cloud of E-DNA.
- Mighty Glacier: Heroes in the "Sentinel" class. They have high health and can take a lot of hits, but they're no pushovers when it comes to dealing damage, either. The best example is probably Titan, who has a forcefield that absorbs a certain amount of damage depending on his resist rating. He has a nice short-ranged machine gun that hits all enemies around him, dealing a nice amount of damage, and all of his attacks involve clearing away large amounts of enemies. In fact, he's so well-equipped that he can even face up against enemies of his own Genesis type. Sentinels are generally able to muscle their way through stages using their sheer bulk and persistent attacking power, whereas Ravagers get struck down pretty quickly and Tempests get worn out eventually. This probably explains why there are only seven Sentinel heroes.
- Mini Boss: A gigantic version of a Lieutenant Darkspore species, called a "Captain" appears at the second-to-last wave of an end-level horde. Similar to Elites, they have descriptive modifiers under their names that change their attributes.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Some of the genetic heroes, especially Necro Heroes. Arakna the Soul Collector? Skar the Shadow of Death? Krel the Living Firestorm?
- Some of the bosses are into this in a big way. Contagion the Deadly Epidemic, anyone? How about Zain the Hellfire Death? Nashira, the Shadow Void?
- Neglectful Precursors: According to a lot of the profiles for the Heroes, the Crogenitors that 'created' each Hero pretty much came along, genetically improved them, and vanished. Averted with a few of the Crogenitors who tried to help out the planets they came to.
- It's likely that most of them were wiped out in the Corruptor's massacre. At the very least, Zelem is known to have died for sure.
- Our Souls Are Different: Arakna can rip out the souls of enemies when she kills them. They increase her attack power, and she uses them for her special abilities. They are explained ingame as being "neuro-intellectual identities", whatever that means. Arakna essentially rips that out, then psychically interrogates it to gain knowledge of her foes' weaknesses. If they hold out too much, she either shoots people with them or feeds them to her children. Nice lady.
- Palette Swap: Used, and slightly averted. Each hero has four different variants with different abilities, base stats, and appearances, each variant having a different use than the others (for example, Sage Alpha(Enrage) is more supportive and better for multiplayer, while Sage Beta(Virulent Vines) is more damage focused and better for singleplayer). However, the variants tend to have rather different appearances beyond the basic skeleton of the character, not just changed color (which the player can change at will anyway).
- Random Effect Spell: Maldri's squad ability, Probability Assault, which inflicts random Quantum debuffs every time he damages or is damaged by an enemy. Effects include slows, time stops, banishes, knockbacks, and a special Ao E attack. His basic attack is similar; it has the absolute largest damage range in the game, meaning it can alternate from dealing vast amounts of damage to ridiculously pitiful Critical Hits in the blink of an eye.
- Red Baron: Almost every named character, usually pertaining to what their powers are (For example, Blitz the Storm Striker attacks with lightning).
- Ridiculously Organic Robots: The cybergenetic heroes you can use are actually living creatures that were augmented to the point of barely even looking biological anymore. The same goes for Cyber Darkspore, because obviously robots cannot be affected by DNA.
- Scenery Porn: Overlaps with Scenery Gorn. The environments in all of the stages are very visually stunning, to the point that players get lost easily if they don't use the minimap. Especially in forest stages, what with all the (beautiful) leaves, fronds and vines obstructing the camera and whatnot.
- Shout-Out: Blitz has a special move called Ride the Lightning.
- Shapeshifter Swan Song: The demise of the Corruptor.
- Schrodinger Fu: A specialty of Quantum Genesis heroes, but especially Maldri: one of his skills abuses quantum physics to attack every enemy he could be attacking at the same time.
- Single Biome Planet: Verdanth is a lush jungle planet, Cryos is an ice world. If Scaldron wasn't a desert planet before the Corruptor ruined it, it is now.
- Squishy Wizard: Heroes in the "Tempest" class. They're not as good as taking hits as Sentinels are, but they have powerful ranged attacks and useful support moves that can give enemies a hard time. They're usually the most difficult to use of the heroes, which probably explains why they are the most common hero class.
- Violation of Common Sense: In-universe example: Xylan, the Crogenitor who discovered Exponential DNA, infuses himself with E-DNA, believing he could be able to control the side-effects. It goes about as well as one expects; he turns into The Corruptor, ruler of the Darkspore and the game's apparent Big Bad.
- Standard RPG Archetypes: Tank (Sentinel), DPS (Ravager), Caster (Tempest). All three types have the ability to deal damage to enemies just fine; how they do it is different.