Wadjet Eye Games has had a pretty spectacular year. It started in January with the Blackwell Deception, then came Da New Guys (Icebox Studios), and Resonance (xii Games). Since Wadjet Eye has become synonymous with quality releases whether developed by outsiders, or home-grown, it should come as no surprise that Primordia is an outstanding title that should not be missed.
Wormwood Studios tale of two robots (Horatio Nullbuilt and Crispin Horatiobuilt) surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland is amazingly told on all fronts. Victor Pflug’s art is simply stunning. While primarily working in varying shades of brown to depict the lifeless world, splashes of both muted and vibrant color give this world an incredible sense of depth that is difficult to put into words. His character designs are instantly memorable, and provide enormous insight into the personalities of every robot our intrepid heroes encounter as the game progresses. The city of Metropol and its outlying areas are fascinating locations, showing glimpses into a rich history of the world that was. The animation makes the robots appropriately mechanical, but with enough of a fluid quality to reinforce the idea that they were indeed created by organic beings (The concept of Man as creator is a major plot element).
Mark Yohalem’s writing is sublime. He breathes the most (ahem) life into characters that I’ve seen since the Blackwell series. Even the most ancillary characters have true personality, pulling the player even further into this world. The dialog switches from thought provoking, to humorous, to moving without missing a beat. The plot discusses issues such as religion, free will, and social contracts at a profound level without feeling heavy handed. The plot twists and turns admirably, although the ultimate fate of the characters and the world is left up to the player. There are multiple endings to Primordia, and each is determined by conscious choice of action (or inaction), leaving even the bleakest of the outcomes more satisfying than any of the “red, green, or blue” Mass Effect 3 finales.
Yohalem’s writing is brought to life by an amazing voice cast. This is hardly surprising, being a Wadjet Eye published title. Horatio and Crispin are deftly brought to life by Logan Cunningham and Abe Goldfarb, showing a chemistry that is lacking in even some AAA titles. While their interactions are clearly the main attraction, the rest of the voice cast makes every dialog a treat rather than something to be skipped over. First rate work all around.
Gameplay utilizes a simple and effective point and click interface. I liked the idea of the map and data pouch buttons on the menu bar storing locations and useful information (such as keycode numbers discovered) respectively. The map function prevented some of the awful backtracking common in point and click adventures, since I could click a location rather than walking through multiple screens to get back to something I’d missed. It’s a feature I’d like to see expanded in future titles.
Puzzles were generally clever, with only one or two devolving into a simple pixel hunt. Overall, solutions followed the internal logic established. The problem with Primordia (if you can truly call it a problem) is that you need REALLY need to pay attention to every detail in order to progress. Seemingly trivial pieces of conversations can have significant impact on future events. I recommend playing when you have plenty of time, and no distractions. I also recommend the old point and click standby of writing things down. You DO have the data pouch, but I know I kept forgetting to check it, leaving me directionless at times. Make sure to take advantage of the internal hint system as well. Clicking on Crispin usually provides you with the nudge you need. I also encountered a few sections where the answer made sense in hindsight, but certainly seemed out of left field when I was actually solving the puzzle. There were also a few cases where it seemed like it was possible to accidentally solve puzzles “out of order” which may have led to issues down the road. If I felt I made a mistake, I simply reloaded, rather than playing through to a potential King’s Quest V mouse scenario, so I don’t know if these were potential game breakers.
I ran into a few technical glitches as well. Since I was playing a per-release version, I was prepared for a few typos with subtitles and missing sound effects, which should all be fixed with the final release. I experienced a few crashes to my desktop during my play through, usually involving a character or inventory item that was supposed to have disappeared still being available, causing the script to freeze if I accidentally clicked on them. These were minor inconveniences, and otherwise the game is stable.
Primordia is a must have for all adventure game enthusiasts, and for anyone wishing to experience a truly compelling story along with superb art design. It is well crafted and a joy to play as long as you’re up for the challenge. Wormwood Studios has created another instant classic for Wadjet Eye, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next. B’sod it, this gets my highest recommendation.