Primordia is a must for anyone who is a fan of old-school point & click adventures.
The tale follows robot Horatio and his floating companion Crispin as they try to retrieve a power core stolen from them by a boxy robot with lasers in a post-apocalyptic style world - however, the story is much more than this basic premise. One of the central questions the player wants answered is what exactly happened to the humans who presumably once inhabited this Earth and created the robots left behind. Added to this is a tapestry of moral and philosopical themes such as the meaning and existence of free will, individuality, progress, and what constitutes the ‘greater good’. These sometimes rather heavy themes are pulled off through excellent writing, and are offset by a quirky humour that runs through the whole game. This off-beat humour and occasional breaking of the fourth wall are reminiscent of some of my favourite, genuinely old-school games such as Simon the Sorcerer, and I think anyone who was playing this kind of thing in the early 90’s will appreciate it. The worldbuilding and background detail is fantastic - my one gripe is that the game just doesn’t go far enough. There are hints of exciting other locations that we don’t get to visit, and the larger philosophical themes are never fully explored.
As this is a game and not just a visual novel, I should probably mention a bit about the gameplay - it’s pretty much standard of point & click games, and uses the traditional inventory system. Nothing stood out as unique, but equally nothing was inconvenient or jarring. The puzzles are not particularly challenging, and there’s plenty of hints on hand from Crispin if one chooses to press him for them (it’s also pretty fun to hear him getting annoyed and snarky when you try and use him too many times). I prefer simpler puzzles so the flow of the story doesn’t stall, but others might find this game too easy.
In terms of visuals, the pixel art is gorgeous, and the colour palette of browns, rusts and muted golds perfectly realizes the dusty, disued world. The audio content is also great, from the music to the voice acting. Even minor characters are voiced, and the robot voice effects are pretty cool.
Overall a 9/10 for this game. The presentation is beautiful both visually and aurally, and beneath this is a solid story rooted in a world that feels like it really could be our future. Horatio and Crispin are likeable and memorable characters to journey through this tale with, and their easy banter creates the emotional anchor to this crumbling planet. Points are lost for the sense that the game could have been bigger both in terms of the number of locations, and the philosophical ideas that never seem to be explored quite as far as you hope. Regardless, ‘Primordia’ is highly recommended!
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Time Played: 5-10 hours
Difficulty: Just Right