I’m finding more and more that some of my favorite video games aren’t first-person shooters or fighting games. While I like good characters and compelling plots, I also enjoy a challenge–a nice puzzle or two.
And on that count, Primordia delivers.
Primordia is a point-and-click adventure game set in a distant future, when the world has become filled with endless wastes and mankind has gone extinct. Only sentient robots and their own creations remain. You play as Horatio Nullbuilt, a scavenger who lives in a crashed airship with his floating helper bot Crispin. When a hostile robot steals their power source, Horatio and Crispin must pursue him across the wastes and into the last great city, Metropol, to get it back. Along the way, they encounter other robots and slowly piece together what happened to Man and Horatio’s mysterious origins.
As far as the cast goes, Horatio is a very simple hero who wants answers and his power source back, with a few deadpan one-liners along the way. His dry personality is nicely balanced against his helper Crispin, who is sarcastic, energetic, childlike, and even a little libidinous; surprisingly, it doesn’t get old hearing him complain about his lack of arms, given all the times he helps collect items on the player’s behalf. MetroMind is an interesting antagonist, omnipresent and controlling in the same vein as GLaDOS, but without her hilarious dialogue and more interest in “the common good.” I also think Clarity is a good contribution to the story, being a gynoid who only cares about justice and upholding the law–and in spite of her gender, never gets set up as a love interest for Horatio (thank God).
I like the style of this game, with its unique texture and eerie soundtrack. The dialogue between Horatio and Crispin is usually hilarious, and they have a very touching friendship that stays true through all the plot twists and turns. I also felt immersed in the world of robots, who think in terms of core logic and spare parts, yet have human-like disputes and even revere Man as divine. I will say, though, that at times the soundtrack can be a bit repetitive, and the game is so drenched in hues of brown that it’s almost easy to miss small details and clues because the screen is just so dark. And there are a few different but no less dark endings based on the player’s final choices, though some of them require a little creativity if you want to get a genuinely happy ending.
The gameplay is interesting, as the challenges are not about fighting robots or taking damage, but going on scavenger hunts to solve problems. This isn’t a quick-paced game like Portal, where you use different surfaces and angles to advance through levels and solve challenges. It’s a deliberate journey where you collect everything you can find and use just about every item to solve quests. Sometimes you have to find a way to fit different pieces together, creating new tools that can be used on your surroundings. And the game rarely offers helpful hints. You just have to keep trying to fit things together until you see what works. It’s very logical and impressive for an indie game.
The nice things about Primordia are the speed at which you can play it, the immersive world in which you play, and the colorful dialogue you get to have along the way. It moves like a well-oiled machine–and lets you play as one, too.
Bibliography: Primordia. Developed by Wormwood Studios. Published by Wadjet Eye Games. Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. Released on December 5, 2012.