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
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.