Humanity is finished. Our robotic creations are all that remains, and our legacy is being gradually phased out. Have we left them with enough knowledge to survive, or will they end up just like us?
Primordia is the newest point and click adventure game by Wormwood Studios, in collaboration with Wadjet Eye Games (of Gemini Rue, and Blackwell series fame). Set against the backdrop of a decimated world, Horatio Nullbuilt v5, and his self-built hovering sidekick Crispin Horatiobuilt v1 set out to retrieve the power core that was recently stolen from their ship. Broken in half in the middle of the desert, their ship ‘The Unniic’ has seen better days. Without a power core there’s very little work that can be done to further it’s repair. With such a simple catalyst prompting their journey, the layers of the world peel away like an onion, revealing a government power struggle, religious conflict, and remnants of a war that no one quite remembers. Horatio mostly just wants his power core back, though.
The story is really rather impressive with all of these huge ideas being tossed around, inviting you to delve deeper into each concept, while the individual actions of the plot stay personal, and reigned in. The storytelling technique is smart, in that they’ve set the game after this huge, world altering event that most robot’s don’t know much about. You latch on to bits and pieces along the way, and form your own idea of what happened through visual cues, and offhand, vague comments. The mystery of it all is fascinating. The integration of the religious aspects, through the worship of the story of Man leads to some incredibly well written, and voiced conversations. None of the characters fall flat. Even incidental ones that you meet in the street have a purpose, and fit within the world.
There are some very clever puzzles in Primordia, often with multiple ways of solving them. One such puzzle involved organizing a long string of numbers, collected from various sources. You could either piece them together yourself, with the information you’ve been given, or have someone else do it for you. It’s been far too long since an adventure game had me pull out a sheet of paper to work out a puzzle. The multiple solutions can lead to different outcomes, which alters how certain things play out throughout the game. While not turning into a wide-branching game about choice, it’s still pretty cool to see the game reward experimentation. It’s all about how much you want to put in. If you want to see all that the game has to offer, you’ll realize that there certain consequences that can occur should you play in a certain way. It all feeds into the layers of complexity within the world.
The rainy-day, synth soundtrack coats the game with additional sense of melancholic, almost mournful purpose. The bombastic war has passed, leaving Horatio, and Crispin to travel through the remnants of battle. Musical influences of Blade Runner, and Vangelis are appropriated masterfully, as the story unfolds. The voice work of each character helps just as much. Abe Goldfarb does a really commendable job as Crispin, offering sarcastic banter in a non-annoying way, while also having strong character moments. And of course Logan Cunningham (known best for The Narrator in Bastion) voices the reluctantly curious Horatio. The robotic filters placed over the citizens populating the world work well too.
Primordia is absolutely not to be missed. It offers up a special world, rich with lore, atmosphere, and deep characters, each of which pull you further into the well crafted story. The puzzles will leave you feeling super satisfied, and you’ll want to revisit the soundtrack even after completing the game. Wormwood Studios, and Wadjet Eye Games have done an impressive job.