A clay in the past.
After nearly a year of waiting, Pencil Test Studios have finally released Armikrog, the spiritual successor to the classic The Neverhood, for the Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U. With a wallet-pleasing price and a gorgeous visual style from the off, was this claymation point and click adventure worth waiting for?
I remember first seeing screenshots from Armikrog ages ago, and instantly being hit by that warm sense of nostalgia. Armikrog instantly has a familiarity to any gamer who has been around for a while, casting the mind back to a time when claymation was the pinnacle of good-looking visuals. Jump forward to the present day and claymation is rarely used in videogames, which is a shame as it still looks absolutely amazing.
Armikrog carries off the claymation visuals perfectly. They are one of the highlights of this point and click adventure. Strange uniquely modeled characters in an interestingly designed world greet the player when they first start the game up, and continue to delight visually throughout. Styles change occasionally to keep things fresh, and incredibly well done cut scenes just add to the visual feast.
When it comes to the sound work, Armikrog scores high as well. Character voice work is good, albeit limited through the game. The music is quirky and enjoyable, starting with the excellent opening sequence and carrying on throughout.
It is this opening sequence that basically fills the player in on what is going on. Taking control of the weird and wonderful Tommynaut, along with the dog-like companion Beak Beak, the player has crashed on an alien planet and find themselves in Armikrog, a massive and foreboding building. In true point and click fashion, players will then be charged with solving puzzles as they make their way through Armikrog.
The opening moments of the game set up what promises to be an interesting story and drops in some welcome humour. However, as the game progresses, it becomes clear that Armikrog will not quite manage to live up to the standard set at the beginning. The story stutters and it is easy to lose interest, while the comedy dries up, offering very few chuckle-worthy moments.
Then we come to the gameplay and the puzzles. With a lack of tutorial, players are left to work things out for themselves. The player can switch between Tommynaut and Beak Beak, something which is not explained yet is necessary to solve some of the puzzles. The puzzles seem to lean on the easier side, once you solve them. They can be quite frustrating in how difficult they can be, yet seem so simple after the fact. There is a lot of backtracking in the game, wandering back to previous rooms to find solutions, and a fair amount of memorising. The style of the puzzles is something else that harkens back to days gone past, but they just don’t have the care in creation of those classic point and clickers. Also, a lack of hint system, which is something gamers come to expect in modern point and click games, will leave players having to look up solutions on the internet should they fall foul of a particularly obtuse puzzle.
Armikrog is a point and click adventure that looks and sounds great, but falls somewhat flat when it comes to the puzzles and gameplay. It is also quite a short game, depending on how long it takes to solve the puzzles. For those gamers looking for beautiful visuals and a sense of nostalgia, Armikrog is worth checking out. But if you are wanting more of The Neverhood, Armikrog will likely disappoint.