Primitives has potential but needs further evolution

Posted: May 24, 2009 in Platformer

If you crossbreed these two great games—Edge and Marble Mash—what would you get? One crazy looking animal, but you would also get Primitives, a game that tests the logic and dexterity of your mind. Conceptually, the game is a potentially strong puzzler, but in practice, it’s rough around the edges, affecting the overall feel of the game.

The objective in Primitives is to reach the destination point and along the way collect gems and key that unlock certain parts of the maze. Primitives looks and feels good with 3D graphics and smooth framerates. In fact, that is one of the strongest parts of the game, but I would suggest changing out the black background. While it didn’t bother me at first, my eyes began getting strained after about 10 minutes. My suggestion is to offer either a player option to select different backgrounds or making it a standard blue sky tone.

The game consists of 20 levels with two modes of play: Quick Play and New/Continue (which is actually a campaign mode). Quick Play provides access to the last maze completed. Campaign, which requires creating a player profile, takes you through 20 mazes (only the first level is unlocked). Having only 20 levels is not a big deal to me since I tend to stretch out my gameplay, but for others, these 20 levels can be completed in a few short hours so hopefully additional levels are in the works. A thorough instruction section and demo tutorial are included.

One of the things that set Primitives apart from other games is the combination of a cube with a marble and having to use both to complete mazes. In some cases, you will have control of two cubes that move in unison. The devs did a terrific job on the controls—the d-pad for moving the cube and the accelerometer for rolling the marble are responsive and done well. There is also a link and unlink button which allows you to join cubes so when you have two cubes, you can join them to make one long cube.

Zooming in and out is done by pinching, and this worked relatively well. What needs tweaking is the ability to get an overview of the maze. You’re supposed to be able to do this by dragging a finger across the screen. Half the time, there was a lag in the response time, and when it did work, it would auto-rotate so you couldn’t stop and view it at a certain spot. This rotation really should be controlled by the player so he can move and stop as desired.

What I really like about Primitives is all the different things that are included that make it challenging. There are switches, portals, and smoke puffs to name a few in addition to moving platforms. Switches are color coded based on their function. For example, green switches can only be activated by single cubes; blue switches by two linked cubes; and yellow switches by the marble. Another is the yellow star fountain switch, a one-time use switch deactivated after use. One to pay close attention to is the orange-yellow star fountain which is the destination point that indicates a change from cube to marble and vice versa.

Primitives is heavily reliant on its controls to deliver solid gameplay, and it succeeds. Along the way, you will come across red gems that can be collected as well as keys that unlock different parts of the maze. In the game screen, a series of stats are tallied along the top of the screen: score, gems collected, # of moves, and # of keys found with a timer at the bottom of the screen between your controls. It’s often difficult to see around certain cubes so you won’t see an empty space until your cube falls into oblivion. Paired with the laggy overview function, this becomes an issue.

Once a level is complete, a level statistics page appears providing a final tally of scores and items collected along with a game tip. This seemed to be strange area to include a game tip and instead should appear at the beginning of the level rather than at the end. Also, of note is that the level stats page only stays up for a few seconds and then automatically reverts to the next level. In most cases, I didn’t get through all the stats of the game tip before I was kicked into the next level. This should be tweaked so the player taps when ready to move to the next level. Of course, you can always go to the player profile and see the stats there.

Overall, Primitives has the mechanics, physics and gameplay down, but as I’ve noted above, its rough edges need to be ironed out. Refreshing and innovative gameplay aptly describe Primitives, but the various issues I mentioned above hamper the overall game. With additional refinements and levels, Primitive should appeal to a broader audience.

Albie Meter: 3.5 stars (offers unique gameplay, but the bells and whistles need addressing)


Comments are closed.