Primordia’s story follows Horatio Nullbuilt version 5, a robotic hermit with a past so mysterious not even he is aware of. All he knows is his predecessors chose to delete certain memories and he’s fine with that. Rather than dwell on it, he prefers to spend his days building things—such as his companion Crispin—and studying the Gospel of Man that forms the basis of the religion he follows. Unfortunately, that’s all thrown into chaos when a large, neanderlithic robot steals Horatio’s power core. Horatio and Crispin need power to function, so they embark on a mission to either find or replace the stolen core.
Unlike Wadjet Eye’s previous games, which were built by one or two people, Primordia was developed by a four-person team, including a dedicated writer, and it shows. The writing is the true star of the game, being clean and sharp without even a hint of sloppiness—a testament to what having someone focused solely on that one aspect can do. Not once was I pulled out of the experience by a poorly-worded or nonsensical line, and every word contributed to enhancing the overall story and mood. The acting that supports the script is awesome as well, with a strong cast whose voices perfectly complement the characters they portray. It’s telling that while Logan Cunningham is the cast member with the most star power, his work isn’t the best in the game. That’s not to say he did a bad job—he’s as excellent as always—but to illustrate how wonderful the voicework is in general.
The music is top-notch as well. Wadjet Eye thankfully steered away from any sort of techno or other “futuristic” sounds in favour of a tracklist that supports the emotional mood of the game using traditional instruments. My belief is that the best game soundtrack is one you don’t notice at all, and Primordia’s falls perfectly into that category.
The art may be an issue for some people, however. It’s all very, very brown, which is unavoidable since the game is set in a world ravaged by rust and war, but some might perceive it as being drab. Despite the limited color palette, I had no problems picking out interactive objects from a scene, which is quite the accomplishment on the artist’s part. In keeping with Wadjet Eye’s style, everything is pixelated as well, which may turn off more modern gamers.
That isn’t a bad thing, however, because this is a game aimed squarely at experienced, old-school point-and-clickers. There is no tutorial whatsoever, so you’ll have to figure out how to interact with the world and how to use the various gizmos on your own. Not that it’s very hard—left-clicking interacts while right-clicking gives you a description of things—but there are some items, whose operation aren’t immediately obvious. A portable scanner you acquire early on springs to mind as an example. Using it effectively requires some thought and attention to detail that most modern interfaces try to avoid.
As with most point-and-click adventures, puzzles fall mainly into the “lock-and-key” category. What this means is you’re presented with a series of obstacles and need to find the right item to get past each one. There are, however, some that go beyond this. Notable puzzles include a code-breaking challenge in which you have to assemble pieces of a password into the right order, a logic-based conundrum that has you answering questions based on a hypothetical scenario, and one in which you need to figure out search terms to find hidden data in a parser-driven terminal. These do a great job of breaking up the more simplistic obstacles you’ll face most of the time.
Some of it can get tough and if you get stuck anywhere you’ll have no choice but to bang around until you figure it out. There is a hint system of sorts that will help direct you as to what to do next, but only rarely will it offer you information on how to go about doing so. As an example, there was one point where Crispin kept suggesting I search the Underworks, which I knew I wanted to do but I couldn’t figure out how to unlock the passageway. This led me to shake my head and say, sarcastically: “Thanks for the help, guy.” Then half-an-hour later I figured out what I had to do and slapped myself on the head because it was actually a pretty simple solution. That’s another strength of the game: none of the puzzles require you to think in illogical or obtuse ways. Every solution makes sense, even if they aren’t immediately obvious.
Unlike most point-and-click adventures, Primordia has multiple endings that fall into two broad categories with some variation depending on choices you make near the end. I uncovered eight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more tucked away somewhere. Since they were based on the endgame, it was pretty easy to reload a save and experience each one. Getting the more satisfying conclusions do require a bit of thinking outside the box, which made seeing them more worthwhile as a result.
Conclusion—Is It Worth The Money?
Primordia is a solid adventure with great writing, production values, and gameplay. It’s one of the best adventures I’ve played to date, even better than Wadjet Eye’s Blackwell series. Which is saying a lot because I absolutely adore the Blackwell games. I wouldn’t be surprised if Primordia ended up being on many “Best Adventure Game of the Year” lists. It’s definitely worth the ten dollars.