grumbel's Primordia (PC) review

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Great presentation and atomsphere, but the main plot never really gets going

Primordia is a classic point&click adventure game and comes like most Wadjet Eye games in a old school 320x240 look. It however also comes in a 16:9 aspect ratio in a 4:3 frame, which means you might end up with black bars all around the screen. Aside from that limitation however the graphics look very good, the backgrounds are very detailed and atmospheric and all the characters have a unique look to them. Only the walk cycles look a little stiff, but given that everybody is a robot that's forgivable. The music in the game is also excellent and combined with the graphics creates an eerie atmosphere for the robot wasteland that makes up Primordia. The voice work is very good as well.

Where the game falls apart however is the plot and puzzle design. The driving force behind your quest is to retrieve the powercore of your ship that has been stolen right at the beginning of the game, however retrieving that powercore turns out to be kind of a quest of trial&error, there is no real sense of guidance or progress in the game. You just walk around and do stuff, which might or might not lead you closer to the powercore. The puzzle design is also rather contrived in that it rarely follows a logical progression, far to often you collect stuff that becomes only useful far later in the game. It's not like the puzzles are very difficulty, it's just that they more often then not feel kind of arbitrary and often only become clear after you have solved them.

Crispin, a little floating helper robot, that follows you around through the game is where the strength of the game lies. Not only will he constantly entertain you with funny dialog, he also acts as a build in walkthrough and will give you hints and tips whenever you might be stuck. He does a great job of keeping the game flowing when you otherwise might have run out of ideas and his dialog is always entertaining.

Overall my impression of the game is rather mixed. The presentation is very good and your sidekick Crispin makes the whole trip entertaining, but the main plot never really clicks. It feels to unfocused and while the actual story is interesting, the way it's spread around rather arbitrary acts of adventure gaming just feels unsatisfying. The game could have used more dialog with other characters and less random combining of items. The game also spends to much time in the same locations with lots of back and forth between the same screens. The ability to highlight items and exits on the press of a button is also missing in the game, which means a lot of screen sweeping with the mouse is needed, something other adventure games have learned to avoid. It's not a bad game by any means, but it's missing that certain spark that other adventure games have, to often the game drags you to places without giving you clear enough of a reason as to why you would want to go there. And while Crispin is extremely helpful, he is also far to often the only real clue you have as to where to go next and the feedback you get from combining things that don't work together is often of little use and just the same repeating phrase.


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