When it comes to a planet with a dark side and a light side, then the fantasy MMO Aion definitely comes to mind first. However, this is nothing like that game – except for the whole light versus dark side of the planet thing. Primordian takes place on a wild planet full of wild and exoting creatures that either ignore you or want to kill you. Luckily, in this game, you play the big baddie they should be looking out for as you ravage your enemies and take nourishment from your surroundings to survive. Nothing seems more important than survival here. Except maybe the visuals.
If there’s one thing that this game excels in, it’s in the visual department. I can’t think of many people who would first enter Primordian without an exclamation of wonder.
Primordian released in Steam Early Access this week for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift at a $24.99 price tag. I gave it a try using Vive and was obviously impressed by the visuals but found the gameplay to be lacking the same standard of quality. So, for right now, Primordian tips heavily towards a showcase of the developer’s design skills rather than engaging gameplay mechanics.
That being said, Primordian is being developed by Stonepunk Studios – a solo indie developer – and Early Access should sort out many of the gameplay issues the game currently has. So there’s a lot of potential to turn this into a game that sets the bar for future VR titles. Especially in the graphics department where this game does far better than many others out there created by teams of people.
Check out my short gameplay video below that showcases some of the things I will be describing further on in this review – please excuse the stuttering in the first few seconds:
I’m Walking In Sunshine…Ooooh
Primordian takes place on a planet in the center of the universe, many billions of years ago. One side of the planet is in perpetual darkness and the other always in light, the residents of the two sides never mingling. However, every two thousand years a moon passes between the planet and the sun to create a long lasting eclipse that allows the beings from the dark side to travel among the light.
I started my journey on this planet as a Lightwalker – one of those of the darkside chosen to walk in the light during the eclipse. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing there, but I had some sort of mission to complete so on I went. There wasn’t much to do in the beginning besides walk the paths and admire the immensely detailed jungle, but after going through a pair of huge doors, I soon encountered some enemies. Luckily there were a pair of swords hanging in the air for me which I used to (mainly) decapitate my opponents. They, however, had some interesting fighting techniques too.
The combat is the main interactive element that Primordian offers right now – besides the occasional fruit and bug you can pick for your health or ‘plant bombs’ you can sometimes find. Unfortunately, it’s currently also the most awkward part of the game. There isn’t really a tutorial in the game so I was kind of left to figure out how the combat works on my own. Of course, this is VR so my first instinct was to just hack and slash wildly till something dies. Which worked, mostly, but it was obvious that this was not the way things were supposed to go.
Taking On Some Predators
The developer clearly put a lot of effort into the enemies’ combat animations and while they look really great, their tactics – and indeed the whole combat system – was just a little off. For instance, they would start their attack sequence and I would simply move – leaving them to complete their action and simply kicking and slicing at air. Also, the developer implemented some sort of slow-mo effect that triggers at strange times during the fight. I’m not entirely sure what triggers the effect but it would often happen while I’m running away or standing a few feet from my enemies. Which means that most of the time it served no purpose at all. Though the few times it happened while I was happily slicing away at my opponents did look extremely cool.
The enemies weren’t too easy to kill either and I got a definite sense of depth to them which was enticingly refreshing. There were different types as well, from predator-looking bipedal creatures to giant spiders and this certainly kept me on my toes. Each had a different attack strategy and there is a different way to effectively kill each enemy. For instance, there are some with weakened armor that flashes blue when you should attack and so you can take them out piece by piece. Which sounds good in theory but, as you probably know, things just aren’t as organized when it comes to VR. It’s just too easy to ignore the way the game wants you to fight and hack and slash away.
After a while, ranged combat gets introduced with pistols and crossbows, which adds some more variation to the fights. However, it was just too easy to kill using these weapons and I definitely think they’re a little over-powered.
So the basic framework for an amazing combat system is there, the AI and some other combat elements just need some more tweaking.
A Linear Pathway
Actually, there are a lot of improvements that could be made to the game in general and this will probably happen throughout the game’s EA run. For now, though, the game has no UI or indication of player health. So there’s no menu or way to get back to the main hub, and during fights, I was left wondering how close to death I am. There is an inventory in which I could store the things I picked up during my travels but I didn’t use it for the most part.
Storywise, Primordian was also a bit of a let-down. I’m not sure if I just expected too much or if the story elements are yet to be added, but there just wasn’t much of a storyline to speak of. The gameplay is pretty linear with a clear path to follow between areas where bad guys would jump out at me. Sometimes I would hear a voice telling me some cryptic message but that was mostly it in terms of the story. So right now the interaction is basically limited to walking around, picking up some cool looking things and fighting.
A Promising Future
I also have to state that the game does have some glitches – which you probably saw if you watched the video above. Which is also why I decided to make the video so short because it just doesn’t do the game justice. But glitches are commonplace with EA games and they should be sorted out in the future.
So in the end, Primordian shows a lot of promise in terms of gameplay but just isn’t quite there yet. It also needs a lot more content to stay relevant – especially some interactive gameplay elements besides combat – and we need more in terms of the story too. That being said, the game did just release in Early Access. Also, it’s one of the most visually appealing VR games currently out there. So I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Primordian’s progress over the following months.