By: Casey Curran
I am the kind of person who thinks that smaller downloadable games generally get more praise that they deserve. Don’t get me wrong, they can be great for their price, but in general they are games I play and forget about a month later. Not exactly what I’d label as, “classic.” So when I say that the point-and-click adventure Primordia is one of the best games released this year, do not get the idea that this is some hipster wanting to prove that indie games are the best ones out there. This is me saying that this can stand up to games like Mass Effect 3 and Halo 4 while doing something completely different than them.
A problem I often have with point-and-click adventure games is that they end up having too many ideas that are not all explained well. Primordia keeps things simple with a very small number of menus and a user-friendly interface. Still, there are a few nitpicks. The main character, Horatio, moves very slowly; that can get annoying after a while even if it only applies to areas with multiple locations, which are not common. The top menu also jarringly only appears if you move the mouse toward it, even though it is very important to solving many of the game’s puzzles. I would have preferred if it were a constant part of the interface. Other than that, it’s point and click; hard to imagine any problems there.
Primordia’s graphics are a mix of crisp, well detailed character models put into backgrounds that look like they came right out of the 16-bit era. It has a great look to it, but initially I thought that more detailed backgrounds would have suited it better. As I kept playing the game, however, this style of HD contrasted with retro created not only a fantastic atmosphere that would not have worked with more detailed backgrounds, but it fit well with the game’s theme.
New robots that were able to survive have a clean look to them while the old and withered Earth ends up really feeling worn out. It is rare that a game uses graphics to enhance its story or atmosphere as well as this does, which was a pleasant surprise.
The music is fantastic and adds a lot to the atmosphere. The real star, however, is the voice acting. The main characters Horatio and Crispin are both very well acted and have great chemistry: Horatio as a great deadpan character and Crispin the hilarious smartass. I feared initially that Crispin would get annoying, but it proved to be the opposite as his comments were always witty and funny. Combine this with the fantastic voice work of the NPCs and this game nailed every aspect in this regard.
There was one instance of me having trouble with a puzzle only because I could not see that there was an extra area I could access on the screen. Other than that, nearly every puzzle in this game not only required quite a bit of thought to accomplish, but never seemed unreasonable. There is the usual aspect of every point-and-click adventure where it is better to randomly try every possible move in a situation rather than carefully thinking what to do, but compared to the majority of my experiences with the genre, this did not happen often.
The puzzles, though quite good, still end up really just taking a backseat to the atmosphere and world. This is probably the most immersive and interesting world I have seen in a video game since Fallout 3. The world and back story to this game are so rich and, despite the gloom-and-doom look, are acted like it has always been this way creating something very unfamiliar yet fascinating.
My favorite part of this world was without a doubt “The Book of Man.” This book is readable and describes how Man created robots before he died and modern robots are inferior for not being man’s creations. It refers to man the same way Christianity refers to God and makes it one of the most thought provoking games I have ever played. If you’re the kind of person who yearns for better writing in video games, this is undoubtedly a must play.
Primordia is one of the best point-and-click adventures I have ever played and an absolute must for any fan of the genre. It nails everything from a story, visual and gameplay perspective all wrapped around a fascinating and wonderful world. Add in a wonderful sense of humor and you get one of the best games released this year.