Short Attention Span Review™
I spent (and still spend) a lot of time immersed in books and storytelling during the late 1980s and early 1990s, so I naturally migrated to the burgeoning genre of adventure gaming, almost exclusively on the personal computer.
I adored this genre and played most of the mainstream adventure games I could afford at the time. Bioforge, Myst, The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, The 7th Guest, Kings Quest series, The Dig, Full Throttle, Sam & Max Hit the Road, Indiana Jones, Space Quest, Gateway series, Dark Seed, Legend of Kyrandia, Phantasmagoria, The Daedalus Encounter, ahhhhhhhh! . . . okay, you get the idea. LucasArts (RIP), at the time, could do no wrong. Every one of their adventure games was a small little slice of entertainment genius. Unfortunately the genre began to wane (in quality and quantity) in the latter part of the 1990s. Lately though there’s been a nice resurgence in the point and click adventure game market. And if you like your adventure game to feel and look a little retro, possess some smart and nuanced humor, then Primordia will fall squarely in your wheelhouse.
Primordia was release in 2012, and as usual I’m late to the game when it comes to adoption. I picked it up during a Steam sale, after finally taking notice of the game, and jumped right in.
The first thing you notice is the retro feel, as if you’ve just loaded up your favorite 1990s adventure game. Some people may complain about the low resolution of the graphics, but that’s part of its retro charm. It hearkens back to that golden age of adventure gaming and pulls those of us who love it right back in with its nostalgia. Despite those who may decry the level of resolution, the quality of backdrop graphics in this game is perfect for the setting.
Primordia takes place in a far future post-apocalyptic Earth, where humans are extinct and have become a symbol of religion and legend. Robots, machines, and computers have taken our place, and value is placed on power and compute power. In the midst of the bleak setting Horatio Nullbuilt and his whitty companion Cripsin Horatiobuilt survive by living in a crashed ship named UNNIIC, nursing its power core in order to keep them alive. Horatio is stodgily independent and really wants nothing to do with his other robot brethren. Out of the wasteland comes SCRAPER (Subway Construction, Repair, And Precision Excavation Robot) who steals Horatio’s power core and disappears back into the desert.
This is the beginning of Horatio’s and Crispin’s adventure as they abandoned the UNNIIC and set off in search of SCRAPER and the life giving power core. Their adventure takes them to remote corners of the desert and eventually to Metropol, the city of glass and light, the cradle of robot civilization.
Along the way they must interact with a company of eccentric artificial intelligences, solve logical problems, and eventually unravel Horatio’s mysterious past and who’s controlling the energy and computer power in Metropol. During Horatio and Crispin’s journey we’re also treated to some veiled elements of philosophy. What is life? In a robotic world where surnames are based on who built who . . . is there ownership implied, or freedom? Were humans ever real, or only a created origin belief? All interesting elements to contemplate if the player so chooses.
Here’s what makes Primordia magical, at least from a retro-gamer point of view. It captures the genre perfectly. It has the exact mix of story, art, music, dialogue, and ambiance to make it the near perfect experience for those longing for that feel of nostalgia. The game isn’t perfect though. While being similar to LucasArts’ SCUMM interface (and its iterations), Primordia‘s point and click interface is a bit clunky at times. The resolution of the game’s graphics are retro-fine, but the limited ability to adjust the size of the game in windowed mode will be frustrating to many players. These negative are mere niggles.
On another positive note, the game has seven endings depending on the choices you make during the final encounters. By using save game mechanics it’s very simple to experience all of these endings . . . so save often!
I ran across Primordia on happenstance, and instantly knew I had to have it. I wasn’t disappointed. The game takes just the right mix of elements and blends them into a rich adventure game that stirred my memories of adventure game nostalgia. Highly recommended!
Below is a trailer for the game, and a select gallery of my play through.