Claymation, animation consisting of clay, had a brief flirtation with the gaming conscious, further encapsulating that cartoonish action, with the fresh frontier of 3D gaming. One such example was The Neverhood, an inventive adventure game sculpted entirely out of clay. It was cleverly written yet spawned no successor as adventure game waned in popularity. In 2015, twenty years since The Neverhood, some of the same team behind the initial game, attempted to finally craft a successor. That game was Armikrog.
As the intro cinematic wonderfully elaborates, you are Tommynaut, an intrepid explorer who has been sent to the vast network of space, to find a rare element, P-tonium, for his dying planet back home. After crash landing on a strange planet, known as Spiro 5, Tommynaut and his faithful dog, Beak-Beak, attempt to navigate around the planet’s challenges, uncover strange mysteries and take stewardship of a lost infant.
Those who played The Neverhood will have no trouble getting down into the groove of Armikrog. The classic point and click gameplay, that has become a loving staple of the greats of the era make a return. The addition of Beak-Beak is a nice inclusion, though gameplaywise it’s no different from controlling Tommynaut, albeit the screen goes into a black-and-white filter (erroneously supposed to represent how dogs perceive vision, but this is a space dog so maybe they’re different). The game has a lot more dialogue, provided by Michael J. Nelson among others is another nice supplement, no longer limited to the limited disc space of the late 90s, Armikrog takes every opportunity to further deliver on the preliminary vision.
What can be said about the lovingly crafted models of Armikrog has not been stated? They are as colourful and creative as ever, fantastical creatures and geometrically contorted levels, just beckoning you to explore. Although problems persist in the form of puzzles, true to the first game, these also encapsulate model Point-and-click adventure challenges so your mileage may vary in terms of difficulty. Terry Scott Taylor’s wonderful soundtrack makes a return to the proceedings, with catchy compositions that carefully matches the environments and quirky world of Spiro 5.
Timeless is a word that springs to mind when playing Armikrog. It mirrors the ingenuity of what made The Neverhood so appealing, yet with modern sprinklings of improvements from the 20 odd years since it came out. That further amplifies this unique brand of clay-based adventure as a winning formula for the ages and makes the entire package of Armikrog that more enticing. Fans and newcomers to the genre will find these puzzles and locations a blast to experience, just as Tommynaut did.
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