Wadjet Eye’s upcoming point-and-click adventure game, Primordia, follows the adventures of Horatio Nullbuilt version 5, a monk-like robo-hermit living in the desert wastes. It’s a harsh life, but he resists the temptation of moving to Metropol, a city of glass and light where power flows freely to all it’s inhabitants. That last part is important because the world of Primordia is populated entirely by robots so having access to power is, naturally, very big deal. That said, when a large, lumbering, not-very-loquacious robot breaks into Horatio’s home and steals his power-core, recovering it becomes priority number one.
Horatio’s not alone in the task. He’s accompanied by a wise-cracking sidekick named Crispin Horatiobuilt because he was built by Horatio. This begs the question: if Horatio built Crispin, who built Horatio? Not even our hero knows the answer to that, but I suspect he’ll learn all about it in the final game. I’d really like to be less coy about it, but the events that take place in the preview copy are much to enthralling for me to spoil. Suffice it to say: Primordia is a game that lures you in with a superficial problem—finding a new power core—then hooks you by offering up some suggestive questions during the hour or so it takes to accomplish that.
While I won’t talk about the story, I will talk more about the characters, all of whom are memorable in some way or other. Horatio is stoic and silent, ever professional. Crispin, his comical compatriot, is a perfect foil who rarely, if ever, veers into annoying sidekick territory. Ever-Faithful, a religious zealot you meet early on, speaks in the calm tone of a person of unshakeable faith. Even the Neanderthal-like thug who steals Horatio’s power-core sticks out in my mind, a single-minded personality perfectly portrayed by a few uttered words. The writing behind these characters is sharp, but it’s the voice-work that make them come to life. Every actor feels perfectly cast for their role. Again Ever-Faithful is the standout here, trumping even the work of Logan Cunningham (famed as the narrator from Bastion) who voices Horatio.
Mechanically, Primordia’s gameplay is standard point-and-click adventure stuff. Left-clicking interacts with a thing while right-clicking gives you a description of it. You can direct Crispin to carry out tasks by clicking his icon in the menu bar then clicking something on-screen, and using inventory items follows a similar process. There’s a datapod that stores important information you come across and a map you’ll use to travel between locations. Refreshingly there’s no tutorial for any of this, at least in the preview copy; you’ll just have to figure it out by poking around, which doesn’t take too long because it’s all intuitive enough.
The puzzles I encountered are less “puzzle-like” and more along the line of obstacles to be overcome. Find the pieces to repair the backup-power generator, find the pieces you need to build a scanner, figure out how to reboot the giant robot brain, and so forth. Some are trickier than others, but none are particularly difficult because all the solutions make sense. Hopefully the final game maintains this because nothing is more frustrating than being pulled out of a wonderful adventure by an obtuse puzzle.
Overall, the preview copy of Primordia has left me excited to play the final product. It promises to be a well-written adventure with lots of memorable moments, and we’ll find out if it delivers on the expected release date of December 5th.