Video games are quite capable of being art, and the only reason anyone has ever said otherwise is because they’d really like for those kids to get off their lawn. Primordia, developed by Wormwood Studios, is an excellent example. It’s a jewel of a game, one of those things I happened upon unexpectedly and was absolutely delighted by.
I got Primordia during the Winter Steam Sale because it is a game that doesn’t require a controller or keyboard torture to play, things that I don’t want to do right now. It’s an old fashioned point and click, similar in concept to the Myst series. You solve puzzles. Most of them require you to investigate the environment and find items you need. Other puzzles are word puzzles and there’s at least one instance of codebreaking (which you can get a character to do for you).
If you’re like me and have, shall we say, challenges, this is the game guide I used. I found that the puzzles could be hard to solve intuitively, though after I did them, I think the clues are integrated well into the story and dialogue. I am just bad at these things. I admit it.
In many respects, this game is the ultimate Choose Your Own Adventure novel. You control Horatio Nullbuilt, an android engineer from the post-apocalyptic wasteland, as he seeks to retrieve his derelict airship’s power source. Along the way, you meet a cast of colorful robots and learn more about this strange post-human future and how it came to be through the lens of a great city named Metropol. It’s a dark story, and doing or not doing things can result in some very dark endings, but at the same time there’s a beauty and joy to it.
The writing for this game is amazing. Some examples:
Pretty sure that ‘explosive’ and ‘helpful’ are synonyms, boss.
You need a monocle like I need an unpaired parenthesis.
It’s like we’re on a treasure hunt, boss, except the treasure is monochrome text.
Crispin is the best.
Primorda is done in old school pixel art. It’s an interesting and surprisingly beautiful aesthetic that fits the tone of the story perfectly. Every line is wonderfully voice acted.
You can buy Primordia on Steam (where I got it) for your computer and also as an iOS app for your iOS device of choice. If you want a follow on to the game by its writer, you should read the short story Fallen. It’s as dark as the game itself, if not darker, but still just as lovely.