Primal (video game)

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Primal
Primal NTCS cover.JPG
Developer(s) SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Release date(s)
  • NA 25 March 2003
  • EU 11 April 2003
  • JP 18 March 2004
  • NA 28 February 2012 (PSN)[1]
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution DVD-ROM, download

Primal is an action-adventure video game released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2. It was developed by SCE Studio Cambridge. It tells the story of Jennifer Tate, a 21-year-old woman searching for her boyfriend through a series of demonic realms. As the story develops, more is revealed about Jen's past and her relationship with her boyfriend, as well as the nature of the demon worlds.

Gameplay[edit]

In Primal, the player can control either Jen or Scree as they navigate the realms of Oblivion. As the game progresses, newer demonic forms are obtained, which prove invaluable in solving various puzzles and combat.

Control can be switched between Jen and Scree at any time in game. When in control of one, the other will be operated by AI, performing various functions depending on the situation. During play, the characters can interact with one another, performing actions such as asking questions, or siphoning energy.

When in control of Jen, the player may transform into one of four demonic forms for various purposes, depending on the situation (provided the forms are unlocked). When in a demon form, Jen experiences a boost in attack, defense, speed, attack range and access to abilities unavailable in a human form. The tattoo on Jen's back also glows when in a demon form, corresponding to various forms.

Defeating enemies involves weakening enemies to the point where their hit points reach zero, at which time a finishing move must be performed to kill the enemy. While the moves differ in style and time taken, the final effect remains the same. It should be noted that enemies can be finished off before the health bar reaches zero, doing so leaves more residual energy.

While Jen can remain in a demonic form indefinitely, taking damage will reduce health. However, hit points here are represented by demonic energy. When an enemy is killed, the remaining energy can be drained through use of Scree, who can store the energy for when it is needed. Jen can then call on the energy, siphoning it off to replenish her own. Scree can store a vast amount of energy, but also has limits as to how much.

When in control of Scree, the player is invulnerable; Scree, being a gargoyle, cannot suffer damage, making him an effective scout. Scree is capable of climbing on stone walls, a necessary ability when traversing the realms. Scree can also store drained energy from dead enemies, which can be used to replenish Jen's demonic health, though he must remain immobile when doing so.

Scree is revealed to be the long-lost Abdizur, who disappeared following an encounter with the lord of Chaos. In Solus, for a temporary amount of time, the player possesses a life-size statue of Abdizur via Scree, to combat Belhazur when Jen's powers are not fit to do so. The player may also possess other statues in an area under given circumstances.

The player may also happen across various energy crystals, which can be stored and used if Scree's energy reserves are not enough and the player is at low health. These crystals are kept throughout the game, the only exclusion being when revisiting previous scenes, at which point they are reduced to a default amount. This means that the crystals function as extra lives, to a degree.

If Jen is in human form, her health replenishes automatically if she is not in battle (human form only; demon energy must be replenished by either drawing on Scree's reserve energy or, failing that, by using a crystal). While in human form, Jen's health represents her presence in the demon world. If she loses all her health while in human form, she is returned to the human world, where she is in a near-death state. When this happens, the player must direct Scree to the nearest rift gate within a time limit (not seen on screen, though the voice of Arella warns the player that time is running out). If Scree does not reach a rift gate in time, Jen dies, and the game is over.

Throughout the game, constant saving can prove onerous, particularly if the player wishes to backtrack and revisit certain areas. Provided a save game is present, the player may do so, and can revisit nearly all of the locations, once they have been unlocked via an in-game cutscene.

Demonic Forms[edit]

Ferai[edit]

The first form gained by Jen, which offers increased stamina, strength, agility, and focuses on melee punches and kicks, for close range combat, as well as claw-like energy weapons. This form boosts her speed, which makes it ideal for travelling through the world. It also allows her to jump much higher than her human form, allowing her to overcome obstacles in the game.

Undine[edit]

The second form obtained by Jen, the Undine form is useless above water, prolonged use of which will reduce Jen's demonic health to one, where she can be killed in a single strike. While underwater, her health replenishes automatically, and she gains energy tentacles to strike enemies from a distance. This is the only form which regenerates instantly, as a majority of the realm's journey is spent underwater, and Scree is unavailable. The Undine form also offers instant telepathy, allowing the player to interact with Scree instantly.

Wraith[edit]

The third form obtained by Jen, the Wraith form offers melee combat from afar, utilizing an energy whip and main-gauche to inflict damage on the vampiric Wraith. While in this form, Jen can also utilize the Time-Shift ability, which allows her to briefly stop time, and slip past enemies when combat is not desired.

Djinn[edit]

The fourth and final form obtained by Jen, the Djinn form gives Jen incredible power with two energy blades, which can be fused together to create a single blade of immense power.

Plot[edit]

The battle to save the outside world starts within as Jen Tate, a young woman of our world, faces the demons of alternate planes and discovers her own supernatural origin. In Oblivion, there are four distinct realms, each occupied by a demon race. Two are aligned with order and two with chaos. But the scales of balance are overthrown, and chaos is engulfing Oblivion.

Mortalis[edit]

The place where Jen and Lewis are from, the "real" world. Belahzur used his power to abduct Lewis from Mortalis.

The game starts in a club where Lewis and his band play, Lewis spots a tall monstrous looking man in the crowd (who is later revealed to be a demon called Balahzur) and he gets frightened. After the show Jen talks with Lewis and Lewis informs Jen about the scary looking figure in the crowd but Jennifer dismisses Lewis's fears. As they make their way out of the club Balahzur follows them until he is stopped by the doorman resulting to the doorman's decapitation. The pair witnessing the event try to make a run for it but Balahzur takes his true form and grabs Lewis critically wounding Jennifer in the process.

Nexus[edit]

The place where it all comes together. It is here that Chronos uses the Oracle machine to maintain the balance of Oblivion. All the realms can be entered through the Nexus.

Oblivion[edit]

The name given to all four realms.

Solum[edit]

A harsh realm where the sun never shines and an eternal winter blankets the ground and freezes the soul. This is a world reminiscent of the mortal Ancient Rome with columns high enough to reach the gods, and arenas to honour the brave and strong.[2]

The occupants of this realm are the Ferai. Although fierce, strong and rugged in appearance. the Ferai are fundamentally a good race, aligned with the forces of Order.

Scree notes that each king of the Ferai has vast power and strength, but at the height of his power, must sacrifice himself, or the entire realm will collapse. Further, this is traditionally accomplished using an object called "the Burning Crown." The king and queen are named Herne and Queen Davena.

In this realm Jen learns her first demon form, based on the Ferai race.

Aquis[edit]

Under an eternal Autumn sunset, deep beneath an endless, poisonous ocean lies the sub-aquatic realm of Aquis. The deadly waters are home to vast sea monsters, but the occupants of this realm, the Undine, have built their own safe-havens where they can live their lives free from the leviathans and the polluted waters of the deep.

The Undine are able to communicate telepathically and survive only due to complex water purification machines. This humanoid race is perfectly adapted to life underwater with efficient gills and fins that power them through the shadowy depths. The queen of the realm is named Aino.

Jen's second demon form is based on the Undine race.

Aetha[edit]

Set in the cloud-draped peaks is the far-from-heavenly realm of Aetha. The sheer mountains and treacherous rocks mean the inhabitants have to make their precarious homes on the plateaus and peaks above the clouds. The gloom and drizzle hides Tudor-like architecture with foreboding towers, heavy black beams and crumbling white walls. Overhanging balconies seek to steal what little light the street lanterns cast.

Jen shown in the Aetha realm, using her Ferai abilities to kill an enemy. Scree, Jen's sidekick, can be seen in the background.

The occupants of Aetha are theWraith race. These fearsome and cadaverous beings have created a warped aristocratic society, with the ruling Wraith class living a life of opulence and excess while the "Helot" peasants live in filth and squalor. Unsurprisingly the ruling class is selfish and evil, throwing lavish masked balls within sight of the starving masses. The Wraith are shown to have vampiric characteristics, such as increased powers and vitality through drinking helot blood. The leaders of Wraith aristocracy are Count Raum and Countess Empusa.

Jen's third demon form is based on the Wraith race.

Volca[edit]

A wasted landscape of sand and rock forms Volca, the fourth realm. An endless scorched desert, the burning horizon is dominated by a vast volcano. Volcan architecture is very similar to that of the Aztecs or ancient Egyptians.

This realm's occupants are the Djinn race. The Djinn are quite possibly the strongest of Oblivion's inhabitants. Their bodies are formed from a living metal[3] and they resemble ancient Egyptian gods. Their health is linked directly to the rhythms of the volcano; when it is dormant they are at their weakest and as it builds towards the violent eruption they feel their most empowered. (As Scree says, "When [the volcano] erupts, we'd better be long gone.")

Jen's fourth and final demon form is based on the Djinn race.

Characters[edit]

Allied with Order[edit]

  • Jen (Hudson Leick), the main playable character, who grew up in a string of foster homes. She works as a waitress so she can go to college. She has a short temper and a sharp tongue, but is compassionate as well. Throughout the game, she obtains the ability to transform herself into various demon forms, therefore making her an exceptional fighter and very skillful in all categories.
  • Scree (Andreas Katsulas), the secondary playable character. A diminutive gargoyle who guides Jen through her journey. Although he is unable to fight, he has the ability to project his spirit into other gargoyles in order to take control of them. He is often annoyed by Jen's light-hearted insults about his size and form; however, he hides a painful secret.
  • Arella (Niki Felstead), the embodiment of Order, Arella strives to uphold the balance, summoning Jen as her champion to battle against Abaddon, therefore making her the enemy of Abbadon

Neutral[edit]

  • Chronos, part of a machine known as the Oracle. He helps maintain balance in Oblivion by equally dividing energy between Arella and Abaddon.

Allied with Chaos[edit]

  • Abaddon (Colin McFarlane), the embodiment of Chaos. An evil being, he is supported by the demons of Aetha and Volca realms.
  • Belahzur, Abaddon's right-hand man, General of the Chaos armies and Abdizur's arch-enemy.
  • Lewis (Eric Loren), Jen's boyfriend, who is the lead singer in an upcoming rock band. Lewis is kidnapped in the beginning of the game and is revealed to have been brainwashed into acting as Abaddon's champion.

Development[edit]

Music[edit]

Primal features music by electronic rock band 16Volt. Some of the tracks presented in the game are:

  • Suffering You (fight music) -Written by Eric Powell, John Desalvo and Mike Peoples
  • Alkali (fight music) -Written by Eric Powell, John Desalvo and Mike Peoples
  • Happy Pill (fight music) -Written by Eric Powell and Mike Peoples
  • Blessed (fight music)
  • At The End (during credits)
  • Moutheater (menu screen) -Written by Eric Powell and Mike Peoples
  • And I Go (fight music)
  • Everyday Everything (fight music) -Written by Eric Powell and Mike Peoples
  • Keep Sleeping (fight music)
  • Plastic Blue -Written by Eric Powell
  • At The End -Written by Eric Powell and Krayge Tyler

The combat tracks from Primal feature on the album SuperCoolNothing V2.0 from 16 Volt, and the band had a cameo appearance in Primal, where they played in a club in the opening cut scene. The "cinematic tracks" were composed by Andrew Barnabas and performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. A suite dedicated to its music was performed at the historic Symphonic Game Music Concert in Leipzig 2003.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 76.81%[4]
Metacritic 73/100[5]
Review scores
Publication Score
Edge 4/10[6]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 7/10[7]
Eurogamer 5/10[8]
Game Informer 6.75/10[9]
GamePro 3/5 stars[10]
Game Revolution C+[11]
GameSpot 7.9/10[12]
GameSpy 3/5 stars[13]
GameZone 8/10[14]
IGN 8/10[15]
Official PlayStation Magazine (US) 4/5 stars[16]
The Cincinnati Enquirer 4/4 stars[17]

Primal received mixed to positive reviews. It received a score of 76.81% on GameRankings[4] and 73/100 on Metacritic.[5] IGN said that the game was "Limited by an inconsequential combat system and basic wander-puzzles. What it does manage to do though is overwhelm us with high-quality production values, wow us with an excellent graphical presentation, and move us with one hell of a killer soundtrack."[15] In the article "Overrated/Underrated" in their September 2004 issue, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine cited the game's protagonist as an underrated "hot chick" in comparison to Lara Croft, stating "She's smart. She's funny. She hangs out in biker bars. She's good in a fight. And she's got a really nice butt." In the same article, Scree was likewise cited as an underrated sidekick, stating "This is the way to make a memorable sidekick: Make him dignified, make him funny looking, and make him useful."[18] Eurogamer, on the other hand, stated: "A rank combat system, quirky camera and a lack of inspiration at the game's exploration/puzzle core make playing the game hard work."[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rey Gutierrez (26 February 2012). "The Drop: Week of February 27th 2012 New Releases". PlayStation.Blog. Sony Computer Entertainment America. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  2. ^ :.,. Primal .,.:.,. PlayStation.com .,.:
  3. ^ :.,. Primal .,.:.,. PlayStation.com .,.:
  4. ^ a b "Primal for PlayStation 2". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  5. ^ a b "Primal for PlayStation 2 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  6. ^ "Primal". Edge: 92. March 2003. 
  7. ^ EGM Staff (May 2003). "Primal". Electronic Gaming Monthly (167): 126. Archived from the original on 2004-03-30. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  8. ^ a b Reed, Kristan (2003-04-11). "Primal Review". Eurogamer. 
  9. ^ Helgeson, Matt (May 2003). "Primal". Game Informer (121): 80. Archived from the original on 2008-09-18. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  10. ^ Dan Elektro (2003-03-25). "Primal Review for PS2 on GamePro.com". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2005-02-09. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  11. ^ Liu, Johnny (April 2003). "Primal Review". Game Revolution. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  12. ^ Kasavin, Greg (2003-03-24). "Primal Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  13. ^ Nutt, Christian (2003-04-03). "GameSpy: Primal". GameSpy. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  14. ^ Valentino, Nick (2003-03-30). "Primal - PS2 - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  15. ^ a b Dunham, Jeremy (2003-03-24). "Primal". IGN. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  16. ^ Baker, Chris (May 2003). "Primal". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine: 93. Archived from the original on 2004-06-04. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  17. ^ Saltzman, Marc (2003-04-15). "Virtual getaways await in 'Primal', 'Vendetta'". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  18. ^ OPM Staff (September 2004). "Overrated/Underrated" (SWF transcript). Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine

External links[edit]