Developer: Wormwood Studios
Release Date: 05 December, 2012
Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux / iOS
Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure
By Chris Picone, 13 January 2017
Primordia is developer Wormwood Studios’ only commercial release to date. It is a retro-style point-and-click adventure, deeply reminiscent of King’s Quest, Space Quest, et al. If you haven’t played these sort of games before, they’re basically a series of interactive puzzles that pull you through an immersive story.
Primordia is set in a dystopian future where mankind (and other living organisms) are no more. Only machines have survived, but without man to guide them they only have two directives to guide them; that is, maintain the planet and continue producing more robots. Although only a very small part of the world is explored in-game, it is very well developed and gives you the sense of a very deep history. For instance, there are two mythologies that persist; humanism, where it is believed that man was the perfect machine and that robots are but poor copies made in his image; and progressionism, where it is believed that man was but the first machine, inferior, and that each new generation of robots brings them closer to perfection. These conflicting mythoi form the background to the world, and the story.
You play as Horatio NullBuilt Version 5, a robot who lives in a derelict spaceship in the middle of a desert miles from anywhere, with Crispin HoratioBuilt Version 1; a robot that he built to be his companion. Horatio is a hermit, and a scavenger who likes to build and repair things out of the parts he finds. When the game starts, a robot attacks the ship and steals the power core. Without it, Horatio and Crispin are unable to recharge, meaning they will eventually run out of power and die. However, the power core also powered everything on the ship so without it, Horatio lacks the tools he might normally rely upon, and so he reluctantly embarks on a journey through the wasteland and eventually to Metropol, a supposedly grand city that Horatio has been programmed to hate, but can’t remember why.
Primordia’s graphics are heavily stylised, and designed to mimic the painted-backdrop style of retro point-and-click games. They are gorgeous to look at, and do an excellent job of making you feel the desolate atmosphere of the setting. I purchased the game in the first place purely for the artwork.
The music does its job helping to create atmosphere and tension. The voice acting, however, is notable. The characters sound robotic but in an inspired manner where each voice portrays the individual personality of the robot it belongs to, a reminder that they have been built in the image of man.
The game plays almost identically to those that inspired it; “hot spots” are labelled as your mouse passes over them. You then right click on one of these hot spots (or an item in your inventory) to examine it – left click on something, and your character interacts with it in whatever manner is contextually logical. You can sometimes walk a little to the left or right to pan the screen but generally they’re fairly set how they are. You simply click on doors or edges of the screen to move to the next area.
The puzzles are a little more logic-based than its antecedents, which fits the robotic setting. The only major deviation from its retro inspirations is the streamlining of the interface and the incorporation of a few user-friendly features such as a fast-travel map that takes you to known locations and a datapadd that acts as a diary, automatically taking note of any clues you come across so you don’t have to physically write them down yourself or have to click through screen after screen after screen just to get from a to b like you used to.
Fun Factor / Replayability
The game was a wonderful trip down memory lane – I grew up with first text-based and then point-and-click adventures, and thoroughly enjoy them. Despite its simplicity, the story is very immersive. You start off doing gopher jobs – find items a,b,c,d,e to fix broken machine, but before you know it you’re off and exploring, meeting some really quirky characters, and discovering just how deep the world’s history is. Every time you solve a challenge leaves you a clue or a tool toward another, following one story twist after another, and the next thing you know the game’s over. It’s a little short at around 6-7 hours but it’s enough for a jaunt and it makes you feel the pressure of the situation the character is facing. A little longer might have been nicer; maybe a little more to explore around the dunes, but much more than that and the story would have felt diluted and lost its impact.
If you’re a fan of the old point-and-click adventures and like the look of the setting, definitely give this one a go. It does the genre justice, and if it was brought out in the day, it would have been one of the classics. If you’ve never played point-and-click, definitely give this one a go. It’s one of the better ones out there, and you’ve got all the modern conveniences of fast travel, an automatic diary, and easy-to-find online walkthroughs to fall back on if you get stuck, and it’s a short game - all of which should make your first experience into this sort of gaming that little bit easier.