Indie Review: Primordia
I’ve sort of become the apparently the go-to adventure game guy here at Gamers Schmamers. So about a month ago when GOG had a big sale on indie adventure games, I was willing to drop $18 to pick up about 6 games. (PSA: GOG is currently having a gigantic “No DRM” sale through July 5th, there’s over 500 games on sale, and new deals each day that put games at 50-75% off, or even more).
I knew nothing about the games at the time I purchased them, I just looked for which ones had the highest amount of good reviews on GOG, checked out the screenshots, and then looked at the prices to see what combination got me the maximum number of games for under $20.
So far, I haven’t beaten any of them, time restrictions being what they are and all. What I did, though, was put in a decent amount of time into the opening stages of each of them. I wanted to see if there was one game out of the bunch that really grabbed my attention so I’d know which one to see through to completion first. Turns out there was one.
So fair warning: I can’t vouch for the end of the game, because I haven’t beaten it. Maybe halfway through the game it begins to get tedious and boring. But I seriously doubt it will, because Primordia is old-school adventure done right.
The game opens up with you, a robot in a post-apocalyptic world without humans, on top of an old ship you’ve re-purposed as your home. You walk downstairs and find a huge robot crashing into your home. It proceeds to steal your power-core, shock you and run off into the desert. This leaves you and your small, floating companion in quite a predicament: the power-core of the abandoned ship was your source of energy, meaning you have only hours before running out of power and ceasing to exist. The game gives you two very broad goals – find a temporary source of power to save yourself, then figure out where Big Ugly took your core. Things get deeper from there.
Gameplay is your typical point-and-click adventure puzzle scenarios. You find different things, can combine them in your inventory and try to interact with the world around you to move past whatever your current problem is. While not revolutionary in style, it is executed very well. Everything is laid out fairly logical, and even when I’ve been stumped for a longer period of time when I finally find the solution I’ve always found it to be reasonable. I haven’t had to make a cat fur mustache and deface a photo so far.
There’s a good amount of humor in the game, primarily in the dialogue between you and your companion. Most of it is extremely cheesy, but what is an adventure game without a little schmaltz in it? All the classics had some corny bits, and corny can work just fine if you can land them, which Primordia does.
The settings are beautifully done, with most of the backdrops being hand-drawn scenes (though you will get sick of seeing shades of brown eventually). The graphics are made up to be from the Kings Quest VI-ian era. The one complaint I have about the game so far is that (unless I’m just a blind idiot) you have to play the game in full screen mode. On my wide-screen laptop monitor, the old-school graphics get a little distorted. The simple option (is it simple? I know nothing about programming) to play in a window rather than full-screen would have helped.
The most compelling thing to me was the setting Primordia builds. Again, this isn’t anything revolutionary: the world has been taken over by machines that man built, and man is nowhere in sight. Unlike most sci-fi stories of this ilk, though, the robots are not here victorious after an uprising. Instead, the robots (or at least some of them) have elevated man to deity status, constructing mythologies around them, including actual books describing man’s creation of the machines (Amazon/Barnes & Noble/etc. will be sad to see that e-readers are not ubiquitous writing storage in the dystopian robot future).
Honestly, if you liked the old Sierra adventure games you have no reason not to be playing Primorida. Plus, with the no-DRM summer sale you can grab it for $5. What have you got to lose? Other than $5. You’ve got $5 to lose. But that’s not a lot, you cheap bastard.