Destination Primus Vita Episode One: Austin Review
(PC Reviewed)by Dylan Blight
Destination Primus Vita is a Narrative, first-person and episodic puzzle game in a science-fiction setting. Follow the adventures of our main six Chanracters : Austin, Hayao, Artemis, BrX, Geny and Coby. They're on their way to complete an important mission: save life on Earth!
2353, Earth: aliens dubbed ‘Shatters’ have invaded. These huge golem size creatures are made up of several different body parts that somehow float together. They don’t destroy humanity or choose to rule over the human race though, instead they steal all Earth’s water and leave, returning to their own planet, Primus Vita. Humans should have died, but somehow they discover deepwater sources in the ground; years later they are still surviving into the year 3044. But it’s now time to get the water back and the team of ‘Crew 121’ are on their way to Primus Vita.
With the story and lore behind Destination Primus Vita, Epsilon Games have set-up an interesting premise that only gets more intriguing the deeper you get into the story. It’s the strongest part of this adventure/puzzle narrative game that keeps giving interesting tidbits the deeper you get into Episode One.
The journey from Earth to Primus Vita is a long, four-year journey in space and to make that trip easier for Crew 121 as well as making the best use of the time aboard, NIM, the artificial intelligence program on the ship is putting the crew through artificial challenges while they are in cryosleep. These challenges aim to improve the crew's skills within their main tasks once reaching Primus Vita, and also help with their emotional and social skills with each other.
With each episode, you’ll be playing as a different member of Crew 121 as they lay in cryosleep and overcome their own unique challenges and puzzle in their artificial world made up from their unique memories and traits.
Episode One sees you play as Austin Blair, a quantum physics scientist who has spent her entire life with only one goal in mind -- beating the Shatters. For the first episode she serves as a good introduction to the world of Primus Vita, and the other crew members of 121, but her A.I world is very typical for something of a ‘mind landscape,’ especially when compared to the design of the creatures, or pictures of Earth you can find throughout the episode. The design of Austin’s world is very boring, perhaps the design is to match her scientific mind, but I hope the following episodes can offer something more unique.
As Austin's mind explores the A.I world, she’ll have to solve puzzles to progress within, and eventually face a task that is equal to what her main goal in the real world is -- beating the Shatters. Along the way, Austin bumps into her fellow Crew 121 members and you’ll explore her relationship with each one and have the chance to strengthen their relationship. I’m not sure what strengthening the relationship does other than open up more conversation pieces and lore, given none of what Austin does would carry over in whoever you play as in Episode 2, and the characters don't actually communicate with one another.
You explore the world in a first-person view and can find bonus intel that is 100% worth reading to learn more about the Shatters, and what Earth has been doing to survive. You also can and will need to find clues to complete the core gameplay element of Destination Primus Vita, which is a variety of puzzles you find and must complete to move forward.
As the game begins you’re treated to a cinematic of the ship flying through space before diving into Austin's head. It’s nicely animated with a booming soundtrack build-up with thunderous ship engines, making it odd when the animations for the characters are never to the same level. Whenever there is a cinematic-like moment in the game it’s stop-motion-like with the character models fading in and out over the scene. As you interact and talk to characters the lip-syncing is terrible, making it harder to get engrossed with the conversation, which is especially tedious in a game asking you to connect with a group like Destination Primus Vita does.
Throughout the episode you’ll interact with each member of Crew 121 for the first time and disappear into a memory Austin has with them. You’ll have to look around the small area and pick-up different items to move the scene forward eventually revealing the full story behind why this moment is so important to Austin. They’re important story wise and for understanding Austin’s motivation and relationships with the crew, but a tedious clickfest to find some of the items. I'd often move in and out, around in circles for minutes not being able to find the item I needed to pick up and because the rooms are just floating recreations in endless space, they’re not interesting enough to spend time in. Maybe if the A.I experience fully recreated the location it would have been more fun. But it’s a half-assed recreation and the most tedious and boring part of the game.
Although there is an achievement for completing the game without using any of the clues for the puzzles, I find that idea impossible. Some of the puzzles are straightforward to figure out and the first couple are easy mind games, but they eventually get into confusing messes without the clues. One puzzle in particular had me stumped with four coloured objects in a multi-row circular maze and what are you to do? You can drag the objects in circles around the maze, but without any, or as I needed, ALL of the clues I don’t know how you would solve that puzzle. None of the puzzles contained similar solutions, with each using unique elements making Destination Primus Vita a fun puzzle adventure. It will be interesting to see how different the puzzles are for different characters in the following episodes or if there will be a level of repetition.
The double-edged sword of the intrigue of arriving on Primus Vita and your actual mission there is that you’ll never experience that mission in the game. Epsilon Games is already publishing a comic series that has Crew 121 landing on Primus Vita and starting up their mission at the base. Playing Destination Primus Vita is an episodic adventure about discovering whats deep in the crew's minds and helping each learn what they’ll need to do to succeed with their own individual missions upon arriving on Primus Vita, it is not a game leading up to an epic landing on planet, but it’s hard to not wish it was.
Destination Primus Vita is a real mix-bag of doing some things really well and uniquely, as well as doing a lot very bland and boring. I hope Episode Two can improve the weaker elements and explain why players should look forward to the next episode and not leave you wondering why you should care. Playing this though, I did go read the two comics released so far -- so I am onboard for the adventure to get our water back -- but why does the game feel like the spin-off story, not the other way around?
Developer: Epsilon Games
Publisher: Green Man Gaming Publishing
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Mac
(Destination Primus Vita Episode One: Austin code provided by the developer)