Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone




Developed by SCE Europe and headed to the US next month, Primal is looking like one the springís most entertaining and challenging action/adventure titles. Set against a dark backdrop inside a demonic world, Primal will let you switch between these worlds as you control a girl and her gargoyle companion. Sheíll have to discover her inner strength while both fighting and mastering the demons that lurk inside of her. We take a hands-on look at this upcoming release and discover the darkness that hides beneath the surface.

Primal takes place in a dark, desperate world called Oblivion where demons and monsters rule a realm of chaos and disorder. You take the role of Jen Tate, a modern girl whoís been born half-demon, half-human and can switch between these modes at will. She has to face the demons of the supernatural world, restore order and balance while also rescuing her boyfriend. Jen isnít completely defenseless and can attack enemies using a variety of attacks including slashing, slicing and cutting maneuvers. While sheís quite an effective fighter in human form, sheís much more powerful when sheís in her demon form, with gives her much more devastating attacks and moves. Throughout the game, she takes on one of four forms, which coincide with the four different demon realms. These transformations are accompanied by cool animations that are quite intense. There are four demonic realms including some vibrant underwater sequences. Changing to her Ferai form is easy and this unlocks a short animation you can watch her body transform into the Ferai, Wraith, Djinn and Undine states. These sequences are quite dramatic and make the game more fun to play. However, when she loses her Ferai energy, she will revert to human form.

Jen isnít alone in her quest and is joined by her demonic companion Scree, a gargoyle who has several abilities and such as turning himself to stone. His main mission is to collect Ferai energy. This energy can come in the form of stones, which he can meld with his body. Scree can also suck Ferai power away from fallen foes. Once Scree has collected enough energy, he can transfer it to Jen, or transform himself into another form using the statues in each level. To add to the strategy, you can switch between these characters as the events in the game progress. Since Jen and Scree have different abilities, youíll have to work together in order to succeed. Jen is obviously more effective when facing foes, but Scree can reach areas than Jen canít. This is a really cool system and lends Primal an interesting play mechanic, that gives the action a unique feel.

In the demo, we found that the controls were quite intutitve and allowed you to switch forms and characters with ease. Both characters move around easily. Combat was likewise simple and you pressing the L or R shift button allowed you to perform standard attacks. Thereís also an easy to use auto-targeting system, which aims your attacks at the closest enemy. Performing Jenís combos was also simple. You simply hold down both shift buttons simultaneously and these attacks are enabled. Finally, the game allows Jen to perform finishing moves on opponents, which are quite cool, and prevent them from coming back to life. In practice, this is a lot simpler than it sounds and Primalís combat system is surprisingly flexible yet gives the battles added strategic depth.
Primal implements an effective third-person perspective and players move the camera to look around each level. The game isnít all hack and slash because Primal will have a rich backstory and plot that shows how Jen progresses as she becomes more comfortable with her powers. Players will also find numerous elaborate puzzles that theyíll have to solve. Some of these are self-explanatory while others will take some brainpower to complete. You will probably have to use both characters to the fullest in order to unlock all of the gameís puzzles. For example, early on, there was a temple with a locked door. You had collect all the Lifestones, change into another form to move a statue that opened the door. Very cool and gives the game more depth.

As you might have guessed from the screenshots, this release looks dark throughout and features brilliant light-sourcing for special attacks, which adds to the eerie feel. Visually, Primal is looking quite impressive and the engine looks solid in the playable build with a lot of polish already evident. The gameís design is rich and evocative with menacing foes moving around with malicious ease. Primalís environments will feature excellent texture mapping and inventive design that creates a cohesive, dark world. Special effects such as light sourcing and shadows were also very impressive in this preview build. Primalís voice acting seems to have been given the proper attention, with the entertaining banter between Jenís innocence and the older, grizzled Scree giving Primal a unique chemistry. The music is also decent, alternating between a dark ominous score and the metallic riffs of rock band 16Volt effectively underscoring the action.

On the surface, Primal seems to bear superficial resemblance to Devil May Cry and Soul Reaver. However, it offers some original play mechanics and an interesting plotline that should differentiate it from those titles. Gamers will find a cinematic game good balance of action and puzzles, that should keep things quite challenging throughout. Primalís visceral battles are extremely intense and challenging, especially when you face multiple enemies simultaneously. Judging by the pre-release build, Primal looks like a solidly produced and challenging adventure title with plenty of action. Itís dark storyline and ability to switch characters and forms gives it a unique feel. This was quite an impressive build, and it this point, Primal has all the elements for an impressive game, so PS2 owners should definitely keep their eyes out for it.