Published on October 16th, 2013 | by Ari Nellen2
Primordia – Ari Review
So I friggen love point and click adventure games. Seriously, being raised on the bread and butter of Lucas Arts was surely the best of times to be alive. (Though I tried to play Loom, and I was terrible at discerning sounds, maybe I’ll try it again and get someone who’s musically savvy to help). But you might have heard that the hey-day is over. Our years of enlightenment are gone, and we’re now in the dwindling twilight, where adventure P&Cs attempt to wear their cap backwards in hopes the new kids will find them ‘hip’. The phrase, “don’t fix what ‘aint broke” usually leaves the taste of non-innovaters in the mouth, but in this case traditional P&Cs I find best allow for the story, and puzzles to remain centre stage (and not annoying awful movement, or a stupid item management system or no system at all which makes for simple boring puzzles).
So when I booted up Primordia I wasn’t disappointed.
Where I clicked, Horatio moved. The left and right buttons did “interact” and “look” (do you remember the interact wheel with three options in The Curse of Monkey Island, didn’t you think it was just too fussy?). While the graphics are pixelated, and the movement awkward the game is as traditional as you could get (while still including voice acting). A simple inventory, a map to fast travel with, and finally a really cool ‘Data Pad’. The latter saves all the important bits of information. This way you don’t have to jot down that set of numbers you’ll need to plug in later, it’s handily there for you. There’s no awkward dialogue print-out for you to read through and it’s a really natural way about the game pointing you in the right direction. Primordia even throws in a few red herrings in-order to hold off meta-gaming.
The game takes place in a post apocalyptic world, humans are now gone and the sentient robots they created roam the earth trying to understand enact their programming when all the conditions have changed. The concept isn’t 100% new, but the story is compelling. Humour definitely goes hand in hand with P&Cs, and while it’s not required (read: The Walking Dead is fucking amazing) when it’s done well the game becomes hugely more enjoyable. Though often game humour isn’t directed at you, Primordia fills my geeky nerdy pun loving heart. Crispin, the adorably embittered pun filled hovering robot without arms, follows the likes of Morte (Planescape Torment) and Boney (The Curse of, Escape from and Tales of Monkey Island) in a tradition of the funny side-kick (without arms). The humour might not floor you with it’s deep witticism, but I enjoyed many chuckles and some flat out bursts of laughter. The other characters are also endearing (following my custom of falling in love with the gravelly voice of the enigmatic protagonist), enough that I ‘just had something in my eye’ towards the end. The finalé is adequately epic, with one outstanding scene where the pacing had me entirely immersed.
I wouldn’t call Primordia challenging, and it’s relatively short; clocking in at 9.3 hours played without hints. But the story is engrossing, I found myself deliberately skipping through exploring in order to uncover the plot. There’s more than one way to solve some puzzles, allowing you to feel less restricted than you might in other P&C games. The multiple endings are a nice touch, though you just need to have a recent save point in order to take advantage of most of them. Hints are automatically enabled (which I immediately turned off) and they’re enacted quite naturally. Unfortunately this means that attempting to talk to Crispin wont give you character interaction but rather a hint on what to try next. Most of the puzzles are quite straight forward, yet due to the complexity of the possible solutions I found almost all satisfying. Here’s a fair warning though, there is a language logic puzzle which is worded AWFULLY. I’ve done university study into turning language statements into logical ones and they were quite unclear and required meta-thinking in order to resolve the puzzle. But as it goes it was the only throw-my-keyboard-across-the-room yell-about-it-a-lot-on-Twitter moments.
The only complaints I have for Primordia (other than tightening up their stupid language puzzles) is that the game would bug out a lot when I went into the Steam menu, and you can’t set the game to windowed mode. Also Alt-Tabbing really put pressure on the game, but didn’t actually crash just took ages to come back up. Finally in some cases I found integral plot peices a bit difficult to discern against the pixelated backgrounds, but most were solved after looking a little harder or clicking a little more.
Primordia is a great traditional P&C. I really suggest it if you’re a fan of P&C and it’s worth the $10.50. Otherwise stick it on your wishlist and wait for it to go on sale.