The adventure game is one of the first genres I can remember playing when I got my first PC, an old IBM that ran Windows 3.1…a beast of a machine, to be sure. Throughout hours of old King’s Quest games, Space Quest, Sam and Max, and Full Throttle, the adventure game quickly became one of my favorite genres.
Recently, I’ve noticed a resurgence of adventure games. From Yesterday to TellTale’s excellent The Walking Dead, it seems that the genre is making a comeback and offering gamers something other than your typical FPS or MMORPG. More importantly, it signals the gradual acceptance of patient gaming, since adventure titles mostly focus heavily on story. In today’s competitive multiplayer-centric gaming landscape, that’s kind of a big deal.
Primordia came as a huge surprise to me. I hadn’t heard of this game, and when I was approached to review it, I didn’t really hold my breath. I mean let’s face it; for every great adventure title, there are 5 mediocre ones (which I suppose applies to every genre). The odds weren’t exactly in my favor. But I’m glad I gave the game a chance, as it is easily one of the most interesting, well written, and well acted games I have played in a long time.
Primordia takes place in a gritty, steampunk-styled future where mankind has been pretty much wiped out. You play as Horatio Nullbuilt, a robot voiced by the awesome Logan Cunningham of Bastion fame. Along with your trusty sidekick Crispin, you must embark on an adventure in which you need to retrieve a stolen power core from your ship which was stolen in the beginning of the game by an invading enemy robot.
It’s interesting to listen to robots philosophize, but Primordia offers a number of thought provoking story topics. Since man has been wiped out for what appears to be centuries (if not millennia), a good portion of the story involves our heroes discovering the fate of their creators. And, to stay as spoiler free as possible, you’ll be itching to find out why Horatio is so resistant to going to Metropol, a sort of paradise city for the robots.
[quote_right]I would imagine that it’s hard to create a relatable character with emotional elements in something not living like a robot. However, Wadjet Eye Games succeeds in making Horatio a very “human” character.[/quote_right]This presents a number of fairly unique elements right off the bat. It’s one thing to play a game where you’re not a human being; we’ve all played our fair share of titles where we take on the role of an alien or anthropomorphic animal. I rarely play games (especially adventure games) where I play the role of a robot; not cyborg…but robot. With such a story heavy genre, I would imagine that it’s hard to create a relatable character with emotional elements in something not living like a robot. However, Wadjet Eye Games succeeds in making Horatio a very “human” character.
This is mostly due in part to the excellent voice acting and script. After his awesome work in Bastion, Logan Cunningham instantly became a fan favorite. Now that I’ve heard his work in Primordia, it seems that Mr. Cunningham deserves every accolade he gets. He brings a lot of personality to Horatio, and like I mentioned earlier, it is a huge part of why Horatio becomes such a likable and human character.
However, the true star of the show is Horatio’s sidekick Crispin, who joins a long line of memorable, wise-ass, sarcastic, sharp tongued sidekicks. His involvement in the game almost reminds me of a Claptrap relationship from Borderlands, but far less slapstick. I love Crispin’s personality and how he plays off of Horatio.
As far as gameplay goes, there isn’t anything in Primordia that we haven’t seen a million times before in other adventure titles. This is not a knock on Primordia; it’s more a comment on the fact that adventure games are story first and gameplay second….it simply is not a priority. The gameplay is simple, click to move, click to talk, click to interact, etc. Nothing fancy, and it gives players the chance to focus 100% on the plot.
Graphically, the game chooses to adopt a “classic” look. You’ll find no high res textures or models here; instead everything is designed in a heavily pixelated, almost sprite-like manner. This is not to say that the game is lacking on detail; in fact, for such an “older” looking game, the world and characters actually end up being extremely detailed. It’s hard to explain; even though the details are jaggy and pixelated, there’s a lot of it. The wastelands are properly stark and empty, though littered with debris. The overall ambiance of the game is also one of darkness, almost like that of the Real World from the Matrix films.
The only aspect of the game that I would caution against is the pacing, and this is something that I mention in all my reviews for the adventure titles. Unless you’re someone who grew up with the genre or loves story-heavy games, Primordia (or any other story driven adventure game) runs into the danger of being too much of a slow moving chore. There’s a lot of thinking involved with this game; it’s not as simple as just picking up a controller and shooting a bunch of things. You’re forced to stop, examine your surroundings, try a bunch of things, fail at a bunch of things, try a different approach, look for clues, talk to characters, etc. If this is your cup of tea, then great; if it’s not…well, let’s just say you might want to keep all of this in mind.
Primordia is a strong new offering to the adventure genre. I thought the genre was pretty much dead, but recent games like The Walking Dead have reinvigorated the adventure game. A whole new generation of gamers are ready to experience this type of game, and Primordia is an excellent game to whet your point and click appetite.