Well, there comes a point in every reviewer’s life that they have to eat their words. Let’s have a quick look at what I said when I last covered Armikrog two months ago. (https://invisioncommunity.co.uk/2015/08/10/armikrog-preview/)
“On the negative side, the beta itself is still clunky as hell in terms of its menus and interface. I really hope that these aspects aren’t left as an afterthought in the final version.
However, regardless of the elements which are missing at current, Armikrog is looking like it could be THE stand-out adventure game of this year, and I can’t wait until it is properly released on the 18th of August.”
Yknow, I really wish I hasn’t written that. I was fooled by a beautiful intro and what looked like a promising start. Note the words “promising start.” Well, it looks like nothing really moved anywhere from that start.
Armikrog, or as I shall refer to it from now on, my biggest disappointment, is a point and click adventure game; a spiritual sequel to The Neverhood. Using a simple single-click interface, it follows space explorer Tommynaut and his “dog” Beak-Beak as they explore a bizarre planet full of strange creatures and landscapes. When I first previewed it I noted that the presentation and general sound design was fantastic, and I still maintain that. However, the more I play the more disappointed I get.
My first criticism is firmly aimed at how little the game has progressed since beta. The bits I loved, I still love, as the developer has lovingly handcrafted the intro and the overall visual style to perfection. The Claymation and general artistic aesthetic is wonderful, beautiful even. High-resolution and creatively brilliant. There’s even some fantastic creative direction in terms of how Beak-Beak sees the world. But the recordings, which I, during the beta felt needed re-doing at a higher quality, are still low quality. Good voice acting, bad recording. The music, again, is pretty damn well composed. It fits the overalls style, but sounds cheap in terms of actual audio quality. It’s a damn shame, and alongside the disappointing menus and options it makes the whole thing feel arguably cheaper than it should. Oh, and the baby. That baby’s crying is so, so frustrating.
But not as frustrating as the myriad of bugs which STILL populate the whole game. There’s clipping, sound bugs, and all manner of strange visual bugs (a magically appearing dog, for one,) and that’s not to mention a host of functional, reload-needed bugs and crashes; which are especially grievous when there’s no auto-save. Yes, this is supposed to be a surreal game with abstract elements, but I don’t think many of these were intended. It feels almost like after the multiple pushbacks from release, they just gave up and threw it out in whatever state it was in. Yes, there have been two patches since release, and yes they’ve made things a bit more bearable, but it’s still damn bad.
Next on my hit-list is the gameplay at large. At the start things kind of make sense, and you can figure them out via trial and error; the door puzzle for example. But as you progress you realise how little sense the puzzle solutions make. It’s all very confusing, and I’ll admit, I had to consult a walkthrough at times due to the lack of help the game gives you.
It’s not that I want an in-built hint system, but I mean, something would be nice. It’s not that it’s even too difficult; In old-school classics of yore, if you clicked on something and you were outright wrong you’d get some form of feedback; “That doesn’t work,” etc. Armikrog has none of that, leaving puzzles feeling more obtuse than tricky. One particularly frustrating moment occurred when I realised that the main reason a button wasn’t pressing was that I had the wrong character selected. There was no “Maybe you should try this, Beaky!” Just NOTHING. Silence. Not even an acknowledgement that I’d tried.
That’s not to mention the sheer lack of things to actually click. If something isn’t important, it isn’t mentioned or clickable. I was hoping for lots of little “window moments,” like right at the start. But no, they’re sparing or just not there. I like the Abraham Lincoln bug, I love the monster with the long tongue, give me more of that quirky humour in the form of clickables simply there to entertain me and make me happy!
In terms of story there are highlights. The villain is fitting to both the main character and the world itself, but he shows up far too late. I like the story of “P”, I like the ending, with that surprise transformation and the almost simultaneous heartbreak and hope, but it’s wasted and feels dramatically rushed, not leaving time for beats and moments of reflection.
Honestly, I wanted better from Armikrog, and it’s left me with a sour taste in my mouth. There are positive elements, but that’s all just overwhelmed by the amount of bugs and the feeling that so much of it is visual style over substance.
Armikrog, I want to love you, but you’re just a bit of a sticky mess. Maybe I’ll be able to recommend you when/if you’re fixed, as even obtuse puzzles can be forgiven if everything else is stellar, but you’re too much of a mix of great and terrible elements to recommend buying right now.
Without the bugs, I might have given it 3.5/5 (Notice it), due to having so much potential and so many redeeming qualities. Hell, if it improves I’ll happily change my final score to that, maybe higher. But for now you should avoid it if you value your sanity and time.
A beautiful, but fundamentally flawed game. – 1.5/5
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.