Wadjet Eye Games are back with Wormwood Studio’s Primordia. Is this another fine addition to their ever-bulging point-and-click adventure catalogue?
Many have said that Double Fine’s Kickstarter brought the point-and-click adventure genre back to life, but that’s ignoring some fine contributions from others in the intervening years. One of those at the forefront of that movement has been Wadjet Eye Games, and they’re back with Primordia, developed by Wormwood Studios, to remind everyone just how good a job they’ve been doing.
Like other Wadjet games, Primordia feels like it could have easily existed during the heyday of adventure games, and this is as good as most of the stuff that came out of LucasArts, Sierra or Revolution. And actually, Revolution is quite apt, as one of their early titles, Beneath a Steel Sky, has a lot in common with Primordia – not just the long trenchcoat-wearing protagonist, but its post-apocalyptic setting, sarcastic little robot sidekick and the hilarious back and forth your main character Horatio has with him.
Crispin, your little floating buddy, is one of the highlights of the game. Not only is he a good comedy sidekick, but he’s a great companion and a handy hint system all rolled into one. In fact, the writing for Primordia is some of the best I’ve seen in a while. The world is full of little nuances that spring out just as much as some of the puzzle solutions, pulling you deeper into the setting. Wormwood aren’t scared to just drop a hint of something and let you figure out the greater plot too.
The art is an important part of that world-building as well. The backdrops are beautiful, which seems odd since it’s all browns and reds – a palette usually moaned about in games. But here it’s fitting. Not only is it a post-apocalyptic world, but it’s a post-apocalyptic world full of robots. Browns and reds give a deep, rusting feel to Horatio and Crispin’s adventures.
There is the oddity of Horatio’s animation, though. He’s a little stiff, but then again he’s meant to be a robot so maybe it’s completely on purpose. But as he’s one of two humanoid robots in the entire game I can’t help feel it’s a little off-putting. There’s also no collision detection on the roaming robots too, so in busy areas it’s quite common to see them passing through one another. These are minor gripes alongside everything else though.
Of course, great art and story would be almost pointless if Primordia’s puzzles weren’t up to much. Thankfully they are. The vast majority follow pretty decent logic, and Crispin is always there to give you a nudge if you need it. These hints will never do anything so heinous as spell a solution out for you as some games do, but simply point you in the right direction. They get you talking to the right person or on the right screen, but the heavy lifting is still left to you.
One or two puzzles will have you scratching your head in total bewilderment. One early puzzle involving a door I had to leave completely, let it shift about in the back of my mind for a few hours before a potential solution popped up out of nowhere, then I jumped back into the game straight away. Let’s just say I’ve never felt so clever blowing the bloody doors off.
Also, be prepared to have pen and paper handy, as some of the logic needs a bit of working out. There’s also one or two pixel hunting puzzles both fairly early on that had me worried, but thankfully they turned out to be nothing more than a minor slip up and soon forgotten. The important thing is that the puzzles never feel unfair (or if they do it’s only until you realise what you’ve been doing wrong).
The setting and some of the reasoning behind things can languish rather heavily in generic science fiction territory, and I worry that this will put some people off going further with it. However, the story itself is very human, meaning I really can’t recommend Primordia enough.
Primordia, by Wadjet Eye Games and Wormwood Studios, is available now for PC.