Primordia (iOS) Review
Wadjet Eye Games has lately been known as an excellent publisher of modern-age point and click adventures. Once a staple of the PC gaming industry, they fell off as modern graphics and controls led to more immersive worlds, but have had a resurgence of late, and Wadjet's publishing of games like Gemini Rue and the Blackwell series, have been integral in reigniting the popularity of the genre. A well crafted story can be told with minimal interactions and some creative problem solving that is just as engrossing as any AAA blockbuster, and Primordia fits the bill.
Horatio and his companion robot Crispin find themselves stranded in their ship when there is an attack that leaves them without a power core. Given that they are both robots, they kind of need the power core to get anywhere. They don't have enough energy to make it to town. They have no choice but to rely on their own wits to figure out a way to repair their ship and continue their story.
The game is engaging due to it's plot. Humans are extinct, and artificial intelligence isn't going too well either at this point. In this world, humans are the mythical God that is revered as a creator. Our two heroes are a perfect odd couple, as Horatio is very serious, whilst Crispin's pessimistic attitude plays off of him very well. Gameplay consists of finding an objective, finding parts to make said objective happen, completing the task, and moving on, much like any other visual novel/point and click. While the story has intrigued me, sometimes I felt that the gameplay was a little frustrating, primarily due to the interface.
On iOS, one would think that a touchscreen would be ideal for point and clicks, but it hinders Primordia a bit here. The post apocalypse is always filled with drab browns and greys, and this is no different, meaning at times puzzle pieces look like simple background bits, and dramatic piles of junk look like the edge of an area, when really there's a path behind it. Running your finger over an interactable item causes it's name to pop up, and releasing over it will cause a small three-option menu to pop up, where you can look, touch, or have Crispin do something for you. I easily see how this would work with a mouse: swinging around the screen would cause cues to pop up, showing a path to the next area or the elusive hidden widget.
Unfortunately, due to the input mechanism in question, we're left dragging our index finger around the screen, looking for those same pop up cues, that are then hidden by our fingers. The menu items are small and not terribly descriptive (to figure out the puzzle, do I need to look at it or touch it?) and the items menu is frustratingly nonintuitive by design as well. I often just wanted to hover over an item, to think about what it's use would be with it's name above it, but touching meant dragging, so I'd try to combine items. Then, dragging out of the menu closed the menu, but I was just trying to get my finger out of the way....it just added up to frustration. While the voice acting is great, I would also occasionally hit to advance the scene right when a voice got done, which would then skip the next piece of dialogue with no way to go back.
For an iOS port, though, it is done about as well as could be expected. I've been able to review other point and clicks by Wadjet before, and thoroughly enjoyed Gemini Rue. I feel Primordia has a much better interface on the PC. It is available on Steam for $9.99, while the iOS version is $4.99. If you are pinching pennies that much or just don't have a gaming PC, the iOS version offers up the same great storyline, character development, and challenges of the computer edition, but may frustrate you with it's traditional puzzles that become more difficult without the mouse to guide your hints.
Thanks to Wadjet Eye Games for providing a copy for review.
Final Review Score: 3.75/5 for iOS port, 4.5/5 for story/gameplay and benefits from Steam edition.