Primal is a third-person fantasy adventure with four beautifully rendered demon worlds to explore, plenty of puzzles to solve, and numerous demons to kill.
Our heroine, Jen, and her boyfriend Lewis are attacked by a demon, and he is abducted. When Jen awakes, her spirit has left her body and been dragged into a dimension where four demon realms meet at The Nexus (a machine which maintains balance between the demon worlds). However, Jen is not simply a mortal. Abbadon, Lord of Chaos, kidnapped her and another human at birth and engineered two human-demon hybrids. He is plotting to break the Nexus and let Chaos reign throughout the demon dimension, and our own.
Her companion on this adventure is Scree, a gargoyle sent by Arella, Goddess of Order to help Jen restore balance . Scree explains that Jen is the champion of order, summoned to prevent Abbadon succeding in his evil plot. There is also a Champion of Chaos, the other human altered by Abbadon - you can see where this is going.
Scree is not a fighter (he turns to stone every time you get attacked), and can be annoyingly cryptic when you ask him for clues. However, he is a useful store of energy for Jen, can climb up brick walls and possess statues, and will teach Jen how to take on the form of each of the four demon races as you journey through the worlds. You can switch between jen and Scree to achieve your objectives, and sometimes it is necessary to take action with one character before the other can enter a new section of the map. Jen needs to master the abilities of each of the demon races, and use their skills creatively to get through the levels.
The four demon races each have their own unique abilities. The Ferai can run faster and jump higher than mortals, the Undine can exist only in water, the Wraiths can manipulate time to allow them to move incredibly fast and dodge attacks, and the Djinn are ferocious fighters. Jen has an energy bar for each demon form. When the energy has been used up she will transform back into human form until she can replenish the demon energy ( from Scree), but as the energy bars for each demon race are distinct, she may be able to turn into another demon form immediately. It is generally a good idea to run around as jen, and change into demon form when required to save energy. When you are under water, you only lose Undine energy if you are hurt. If Jen´s own energy bar is depleted in combat, Scree must retrieve her spirit from our dimension within a short time frame or the game is over. One nice touch is that Jen's arm bands automatically draw energy from her defeated foes during battle, which is lucky as you can´t draw energy from Scree while in combat.
The game is very easy to get into. The controls are not complicated, the combat system is a simplified version of a beat-em-up using the back buttons. Although the fighting can feel like button mashing at first, once you have mastered a few combinations it can be quite satisfying, and looks good. This is not primarily a combat based game, and is highly reminiscent of the Tomb Raider series in terms of the mix between fighting and puzzle solving. The demon forms add a new twist to the game, but essentially the rule that every switch should be pressed, and every object has a use applies to this game as much as it´s rivals.
The map is interesting and varied, but you can interact with only objects that you need (with the exception of vases/ crates to smash which may hide objects). I did spend quite a lot of time running backwards and forwards along the same section looking for something I had missed - but that is almost inevitable, and Scree will eventually give you a useful hint after stating the obvious twenty times or so.
All in all the game looks good, the character is mostly bearable, and the demon forms look great (very Clive Barker). I found the game very moreish, and the story entertaining, but I don't think it will have a great replay value.