Review: 'Primordia' (iOS)

An in-game image from 'Primordia'. An in-game image from 'Primordia'. WADJETEYE GAMES

Set in a world where the fate of mankind is largely unknown, Primordia puts players in the role of Horatio Nullbuilt.  Horatio is an android in a world where machines are the only source of "life" left.  He and his companion Crispin are also the protagonists of a story that begins as a simple quest to get back what rightfully belongs to them.  It begins that way, sure, but it soon erupts into something far wider in scope.

Truly, the story is by far the most impressive part of the game.  Players -- that is those that can figure out the game's puzzles and manage through the user interface -- will find that the desire to see not only what happens next but also what happened all those years before the game's story began is a driving force to keep playing.  I won't spoil anything by pointing out anything specific about the story and those Horatio and Crispin meet, but I will say that it's very intriguing and largely original as far as post-apocalyptic stories go.  One other thing I'll say is that there are multiple endings that can be had.  Including minor variations of a couple of them, I want to say I found some seven or eight such endings with at least a third of those being (in my mind) worthwhile.

Like the story, Primordia's art direction is quite captivating.   The game brings with it some implied nostalgia with its 16-bit inspired art direction, which brings back memories of point-and-click adventures from the 1990s such as Loom and those from the Kings Quest series.  Full of browns, reds, and grays, Wadjet Eye Games visually set up a world that just cries "out end of the world." It's quite obvious that the land and its remaining metallic inhabitants have seen better days.  Unfortunately, what isn't quite so obvious are exactly what to do, how to do it, and (for that matter) what there is with which to do said things.

While the story and art direction of Primordia are some of the game's best features, some of it's worst include the UI and unrelatable/unintuitivelogic puzzles.

While the art direction is quite, well, artistic, the color palate and retro-inspired look get in the way of gameplay.  Many of the various items and such that Horatio need to interact with are often times indistinguishable from backdrops and environments.  Quite often, players will need to really dig to even figure out what on-screen things can even be interacted with to begin with.  Thankfully, Wadget Eye Games included a feature where the player taps and holds his/her finger on the screen to bring up a list of what things are on screen and where they can be found.  Players will find that they'll be doing this on most screens.  At least, they will the first few times they visit until they've gotten a pretty good idea of what's where.

As far as what to do with things once they're located, that's a horse of a different color.

While a number of the game's puzzles can be figured out with a little bit of trial and error (with a heavy emphasis on the latter), the science fiction setting simply gets in the way of things.  Where many point-and-click adventures do well with such logical solutions to puzzles like pouring grog into a mug to make a mug o' grog (that one's from The Secret of Monkey Island, by the way, and you're welcome), puzzles in Primordia consist of unrelatable things like using electromagnetic putty on a crystal of some sorts to fix a navigation computer or taking a damaged laser gun arm from a robot and combining it with a broken electrical cable to blow up a reinforced door.  Many of the game's puzzles are just too abstract for their own good and players regardless of how good they may be at these sorts of games will likely find themselves ether resorting to playthrough guides or just giving up on the game altogether.  Sure, Crispin sometimes chimes in with a little hint or nudge here and there, but they're rarely enough to actually make it through the puzzles themselves.

For those who like a challenge, Primordia is a great point-and-click adventure.  For those who don't or those who simply don't have much experience in the genre, the game is going to be a bit too much to handle.  The latter is a shame, though, since the players who decide the game is not worth their time are missing out on an interesting story with equally as interesting endings.

Final score: 7.0 out of 10

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