Reminiscent of the 1994 science fiction adventurer Beneath a Steel Sky, Primordia is the result of collaboration between indie developer Wormwood Studios and Wadjet Eye Games. Wormwood Studios, a team of three experienced developers, spent three years developing the highly anticipated indie game which has gone on to become one of the fastest titles greenlit for Steam’s Greenlight service.
Set in a Wall-E movie gone bad, Primordia’s world is as rich and gripping as it is bleak. The main story takes place at two main locations: the deserted dunes Horatio and Crispin call home, and the bustling city of Metropol, the city of glass and light. While the first half of the game involves rummaging for items, once at Metropol the story becomes murky as conspiracies and a larger plot are slowly unearthed.
Primordia doesn’t stray from the point-and-click genre, players can click the screen discovering objectives, picking up items, or talking to characters. The idea is simple enough and puzzles are rarely difficult. Many of the puzzles just have you search for helpful objects or combine items to advance the plot. Although slow at times, the game introduces you to a multitude of interesting characters and remarkable scenery. And if you ever get lost, you can always turn to Crispin for helpful hints—or mocking quips. Unfortunately, puzzles can get a little repetitive and consist only of clicking on items in your inventory until something happens. Pixel hunting is also often required to find elusive items or small hotspots that can easily be missed. That being said, these examples are usually the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, Primordia’s plot is engaging and completing puzzles makes it worth the trouble. Primordia’s biggest drawback though, is its interface. A failed attempt at retro charm, the pop-up interface is cumbersome and if anything, detracts players from the otherwise immersive experience in Primordia.
CharactersIronically enough, it is Primordia’s robotic inhabitants that provide the game its humanity. Nowhere is this more evident than with the game’s main protagonists, Horatio and Crispin. The pair is straight out of a Star Wars movie: two bickering robots wandering the desert, one the cynic and the other as a cheery companion. Their relationship appears authentically human, and despite the quarrels you can tell that they genuinely care for each other. It is ever-talkative Crispin, however, that steals the show. In a game easily bogged down with its own somber backdrop and muddy palette, Crispin provides much-needed comic relief. Routinely offering sarcastic remarks while occasionally breaking the 4th wall, Crispin will provide humorous observations while joining you on your solemn adventure.
It’s Primordia’s retro graphics that really lets the game stand on its own two feet. Visually stunning, the use of muted colors perfectly lends itself to the game’s serious tone and apocalyptic setting. Everything from the dilapidated scrap heaps to the characters themselves are given the utmost detail and fitted perfectly into the larger setting. At times you can almost feel the gritty sand of the immense desert or the cold machinery of Metropol. Although appropriate—especially considering the world is destroyed and run by robots—the color scheme of grays, browns, and oranges is somewhat tiresome and could use a splash of color.
Fans of retro point-and-click adventures will surely appreciate Wormwood Studios’ indie throwback, Primordia. The game is lucky enough to include bizarrely magnetic characters that will allow gamers to occasionally overlook design errors. Although it is hampered by its unwieldy interface and at times obtuse puzzles, Primordia delivers charming experiences gamers will surely remember.