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I think a bit more of an introduction to Horatio and Crispin’s world would have been good, maybe a chance to explore the ship and interact with Crispin before everything went to Hell, because I felt dropped into a situation where I had no idea what was going on. The instructions said to go to engineering, but I had no idea where that was inside the ship. Now there’s really only so many doors to go through and you’re effectively herded to engineering quite easily, but it annoyed me that the game acted as if I knew right where engineering was.
There are quite a few references to other sci-fi/fantasy pop culture things in this game. My favorite is the broken robot that looks like Tom Servo. No I, won’t tell you where it is, though I’ll say it’s pretty easy to find.
Horatio and his sidekick Crispin live in a large, permanently grounded spaceship. They scavenge the wastes for parts to keep things running until Man returns. Despite all their scavenging, Crispin still has no arms, even though they were in the original plans. As he’s supposed to be Horatio’s helper, I couldn’t help but wonder how he carries anything or helps at all, as the only thing he really seems good at is dispensing sarcasm and the occasional hint on solving a puzzle you’re stuck on, though he will be reluctant to do so most of the time.
Crispin’s having no arms my have been an aesthetic choice, but it did prevent me in the early game from realizing that you could use him to pick up things and go places that Horatio couldn’t. Though there’s one puzzle in the junkyard where it makes no sense that he can get into a tight space and you can’t, which meant I never thought of sending him in there until I’d gotten really frustrated trying other things that didn’t work.
The first few areas of Primordia are there to really teach you how to move about and do things in the world. With the exception of getting Crispin to do things for you, I think it worked very well. It did take a while to get moving on to the real story though, and I felt things could have moved a bit faster. Part of that is the reluctance of Horatio to move away from the familiar things towards something new. It’s an interesting motivation for a main character, but one that’s also a little annoying. If Horatio doesn’t want to be bothered retrieving his power crystal, why should the player? This reluctance is soon overcome and things get moving along nicely. The more I saw of the world, the more it interested me and drew me in.
Puzzles are Primordia’s bread and butter (or circuits and spark plugs?) I liked that there were multiple ways to solve some puzzles, and the fact that they affected other puzzles later on. I also enjoyed gaining extra information on the world by solving other puzzles that weren’t tied to the main goal. For the most part, I found I was able to solve the puzzles without becoming overly frustrated, which was a nice thing, as I hate looking at walkthroughs and then wondering how I ever would have figured that out on my own. It’s kind of worse though, to discover you had the idea for the solution and just didn’t know how to implement it. Luckily that didn’t happen to me in this game.
Primordia has multiple possible endings, and how you solve certain puzzles has an impact on which ending you receive, making for a good replay value.
Primordia is available now for PC on Steam.
Note: Primordia was reviewed on PC, after 8 hours of gameplay.