Bios: Genesis (2nd ed)
As the name suggests, this is a game about the beginnings of life. Its huge scope is made clear in the introduction: it covers the first 4 billion years of our planet's history. The players represent different chemical compounds (no, really!) with the goal of creating, first, a metabolic cycle and, then, Darwinian life, embodied in organisms of different types.
Given the premise, it's no surprise there is a co-operative version of the game. However, the standard game is competitive. At the end of the final Era, players score for the organisms they have and their contributions to other players' critters. The useful solitaire option provides an excellent way of learning the complex rules, by the way.
Along the way, players build chromosomes, construct bacteria and, eventually, work up to macro-organisms. The problem is dealing with a hostile environment, embodied by each turn's event. As with nature, players must be profligate, so that some survive. The introduction warns that this is a brutal game, which means it's really brutal.
If this isn't enough, once you've finished creating life in Genesis, you can transfer the organisms you've created into Bios: Megafauna for the next stages of evolution.
For 1-4 players, aged 12+, playing time 2 hours: £30.00 (£25.00 tax free outside the EU)