| The Good
Huge levels that look great
Excellent voice acting and story
Puzzle aspect of game is solid
| The Bad
Combat is weak
You can't fight or jump unless the game wants
Primal begins in the mortal realm, when Jen and her
musician boyfriend are attacked by a demon. Left in coma from
her injuries, Jen's spirit is drawn from her body by Skree,
a gargoyle-like demon who serves as her aide and guide as
she discovers her own link to the mystical world outside of
the mortal realm. The universe is governed by two forces.
The force of Chaos, governed by Abbadon, has started to affect
all four of the demon realms, throwing the balance into danger.
Jen and Skree must work together to set things right.
The gameplay behind Primal is a mixture of Soul
Reaver 2 and Ico. The strength
of the game is finding your way through each location by using
Jen and Skree's skills in tandem to pass through every challenge.
Skree can climb along certain walls and Jen can shimmy along
small ledges or through small openings in the walls. Jen also
gains the ability to turn into demon forms, each with special
abilities all their own, like being able to make high jumps
or breath underwater. Hitting the Select Button allows you
to switch between characters, which is essential to get through
the game. You'll often find yourself in a location which seems
to be a dead end, only to find the solution in having either
Jen or Skree using their specific abilities to progress further.
While this may lead to some spots where you have to backtrack
just to move on, it all seems to work just fine in the end.
Jen, in either human or demon form, is the only one capable
of combat. When an enemy comes near, you'll be able to attack
by using the L1, L2 and R2 buttons to perform attacks. The
R1 button blocks, and when you wear down enemies, hitting
both the L2 and R2 buttons will perform a deathblow attack.
If you don't pull this off soon enough, certain enemies will
regain health and their composure. During a fight, Skree will
turn to stone to avoid damage. While he may seem useless in
a fight, he is useful in supplying Jen energy to replenish
her health. He can also drain energy from defeated foes to
refill his own gauge and once you collect enough lode stones,
he can transfer his energy into nearby statues to unlock doors
or even use them to perform certain tasks. Also, if Jen perishes,
Skree can go to a nearby rift gate to recall her spirit. These
same rift gates can be used to travel between locations in
Visually, Primal is built on a pretty nice game engine.
The levels are large and packed with detail. Everything from
the detailed textures to effective and dramatic lighting really
gives a complete game world to move the story along. The character
models also look exceptionally well detailed and are animated
well, especially during the story sequences. Except for the
more stiffly animated human models at the beginning of the
game, all of the story sequences are well done and drive the
game on. While the game does have some lengthy loading times
at the beginning, you'll be treated to large worlds with no
load times that you can discern, except for a few moments
when the framerate drops as you enter certain spots.
The audio portion of the game is also done well. The voice
acting is finely executed and gives a lot of personality to
the characters. In fact, the voice acting in Primal is
some of the best on the Playstation 2 to date and goes a long
way to make the story enjoyable. The script comes across quite
naturally in delivery. The music ranges from ambient to symphonic
to even heavy metal during the fight sequences. While you
might think the eclectic nature of the soundtrack would be
annoying, it's actually done quite well and manages to fit
together nicely. Sound effects are sharp and effective. Just
about every aspect of the audio portion does a great job in
drawing the player into the game.
While the environmental puzzle aspect of the game is pretty
well done and the story is finely sculpted, the combat system
comes across as pretty shallow. The attacks you start the
game off with are the ones you have throughout the game. It
would have been nice to use a more developed battle system,
as the current one leaves combat feeling a little dry. Many
times, when facing multiple enemies, you may be left feeling
that the combat is there just to slow down the player rather
than accent the rest of the game. Also, I have to question
some of the decisions made during the development of the game.
You'll find that you can't make Jen throw a punch, jump or
climb up a ledge unless the game wants you to. This leaves
players roaming around the game world with very little interactivity
outside of what will progress the game further. I really wish
the developers would have allowed for more freedom, even if
just throw punches and jump as you please. While this may
have no practical use, it would go a long way to making the
players feel like they're actually part of the game and not
just looking at the pretty scenery before moving on.
If you can look past the shallow combat and limited interactivity,
you'll find an enjoyable gothic experience the looks good
and has a great story to tell. Fans of Ico and the
Soul Reaver series should do themselves a favor and
check Primal out.