In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
The chemical known as pharGONe was supposed to be a miracle, but it ended up being a nightmare. Now the world is populated by hideous mutants and worse that would like nothing better than to tear your face off and eat it while you screamed. You are a survivor, uninfected by the madness that pharGONe has caused, but now you have to fight the mutants to survive and also so you can figure out what exactly went wrong.
The nice thing is that you’ve got a massive arsenal to take down those mutants and for the most part you get plenty of ammo to do it with. Though maybe, if the bullets you shot did more damage, then you wouldn’t need so much ammo. Several of the more effective weapons, like the flamethrower, have a very low amount of ammo for you to use, so you have to strategize as to which enemies you wipe out with it. I saved it for the big, nasty ones, though there were times when there were so many little skittering things surrounding me that I just had to toast them. You can make upgrades to your arsenal not only by buying more powerful weapons but also by spending money to make the ones you already own more effective.
While shooting is easy, aiming is kind of awkward, and so is moving around. Instead of just allowing you to shoot in whatever direction you’re facing, Primal Fears wants you to use the keypad to move and the mouse to aim, which ends up making your character twist into some strange poses. I realize some other games use this too, but here it takes some time to get used to.
It’s nice to be shooting mutants instead of zombies for once, and Primal Fears has a good array of them for you to take down.
But this isn’t just a shoot everything kind of game, though there is quite a lot of that, you also can manipulate objects in the world to open doors, or find C4 to blow open walls, or drive a forklift to move a pesky shipping container that’s in your way. I mention the last one because while most objects you can interact with are marked by a red circle, the forklift wasn’t, and it took me a little bit to decide to try and climb inside it.
Then there’s the detritus of modern society strewn all over the streets. Wheelchairs, boxes, benches, all of these things can block the enemy from getting to you, but they also can block your escape from said mutants, and can also block the doors to other areas as well. I like the fact that there’s this hazard in the game, as it adds to the difficulty and the challenge, but there were times that all the crap really got in the way of moving forward or defending myself.
Primal Fears does a great job with an atmosphere of apocalypse in most of the usual ways, broken stuff, blood everywhere, burning cars and dead bodies in the streets (or on operating tables in the hospital level.) But it also does some things I haven’t seen before. We’ve all been on game levels where it’s raining, but I can’t remember the last game I played that included lightning as well. And it’s not just a flash in the sky, it lights up the mutants and the landscape starkly for a moment, giving you a better view of the horrors you’re fighting. It’s a small touch, but it works so very well to draw you into the game.
Primal Fears is available for PC on Steam and at www.primal-fears.com
Note: Primal Fears was reviewed on PC after 8 hours of gameplay.