While cockroaches and Twinkies are generally considered the most likely to survive the inevitable apocalypse ahead of us, Wadjet Eye’s next entry in the point-and-click genre of gaming suggests that religion has an equally disturbing shelf life. Across a wasteland of broken machines and desolated structures, wanderers are not long for encountering the preachy tongue of holy-minded robots.
Hands-on time with a preview build of Wormdwood Studios’ Primordia also offers a few pages of the holy scripture carried by the game’s protagonist, Horatio, left to wander the wasteland with his partner Crispin after a strange robot steals the power core of the derelict ship they call home.
Horatio is a humanist, built in the image of the creator and compelled to build in turn, which quickly explains the origins of his small floating companion Crispin. Knowing oneself in relation to a creator seems rather important in this strange world, seemingly populated entirely by machines, and learning Horatio’s true name serves as the short focus of the demo I recently spent time with.
The game finds plenty of space for interesting narrative ideas in this robotic landscape early on, from the devout robot guarding a religious artifact that contians a series of bombs, to three robots that carry the consciousness of a larger mechanoid monstrosity and are a little fragmented in the conversation department as a result.
While the religious robot tested my knowledge of humanism with a dialogue tree, much of the game is rooted in the ye olde task of collecting everything one can find scattered around and then deducing what pieces will help solve the roadblocks to restoring power to Horatio’s home. As with Wadjet Eye’s Gemini Rue, which Primordia shares a certain visual lo-fi quality with, a handy PDA will keep track of objectives and codes along the way to save us the scraps of notes that used to accompany these types of experiences.
Horatio also has access to a map, and rather than traversing a large landscape in between critical points, newly learned locations will be added to the map and players will travel to other areas with the click of a button. There’s also a button allowing players to ask Crispin to interact with objects, which came in handy for reaching higher spaces.
Most of the items I collected needed to be patched together in the inventory screen in a particular order as I constructed a device to detect energy signals in order to add new locations to the map – and this cleverly came in handy in trapping a stubborn AI before the demo ended. The short trip left me wanting more, which is always a good sign, but also left me optimistic that the full release will find more ways to lessen the feeling that I’m simply cramming objects from the ground into solution holes in order to progress.
My short play time also offered small charms, particularly with an ancient record player that can play Horatio’s solitary album, and the radio chatter offering images of a large robot city on the horizon, which Horatio seemed disenchanted with.
Primordia hits the sweet spot checklist of sci-fi themes, almost like a lost film from the 1980’s with its dreary world of robot existence mimicking humanity in the absence of the creators. But it also finds space for humour in the dialogue between Horatio and Crispin – and in one situation by shoving objects up a giant robot’s nose.
Wadjet Eye plans to release the game for PC download on December 5th. In the meantime, you can catch more information about the game via this handy link here.