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Armikrog

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Armikrog is noted to be the spiritual successor to The Neverhood- a stop-motion, point and click PC Claymation puzzle-solving adventure from the 90’s. *Takes a breath* It took a while for me to cast my mind back that far but in doing so I have to agree- Armikrog is created within the same spirit but it’s improved in every way.

When Planet Ixen is in trouble the Armikrog send their best 3 astronauts into space to find P-tonium and save them. Two of the astronauts meet with disaster leaving Tommynaut with the fate of Planet Ixen in his hands. His only company is his faithful blind dog Beak-Beak.

While flying through space their spaceship is damaged and plummets to the surface of planet Spiro 5. Their ship now wrecked they have to escape from a strange beast and find themselves inside a room with no idea where they are. It’s up to you to help Tommy and Beaky find their way out as they search for P-tonium and begin to unravel the secrets of Spiro 5.


Just like its predecessor, Armikrog will provide you with plenty of interactive objects through each room. Some will provide entertainment or interaction, and others will be collectable/useable items and the relevant locations in which to use them. For example- in the very first room you will quickly notice a lever lying on the floor. Pick it up and you can then utilise this lever to open the door it stands before. Utilising items is rarely complex and often shown to you in one way or another. But as intuitive as the game is for the majority it will not leave you without a challenge.


In needing to solve puzzles the game will provide you will clues but not tell you that is what they are, requiring you to commit details to memory as you navigate around. At no point will the game tell you where to go, and at times will give you a few options on how to get somewhere. It’s up to you to find your next clue or location.



One downside to this puzzle game is that frequent retries are not highly encouraged but almost punished. While Armikrog will often lead you where you need to be, if you should mess up the game is rather unforgiving. Save points are often but you have no ability to backtrack. At one point in the game I made a small error and it created a situation where I was left stuck with no ability to go forward or back. This leads to a high sense of caution when trying to solve puzzles, but these kinds of unfortunate traps are thankfully few and far between.



What should be applauded though is the variety of puzzles that Armikrog presents. You will not find yourself getting bored by these repetitive tasks. There are many elements that work together so well that each new puzzle feels different to the last. Throw in a bit of unique humour from Tommy and Beaky and it makes for an enjoyable and rarely frustrating play-through.

One of the greatest features is the ability to use Beaky independently of Tommy. Although this isn’t explained very well during the beginning of the game, once you know it’s available to you it makes things so much more interesting. Beaky is able to use buttons and doors that Tommy can not to help solve puzzles or retrieve objects out of reach. As Beaky moves away from Tommy his unique sight ability comes into play. Being a blind dog he is able to utilise his other senses, much like a bat, to see walls and objects in his own way. He is even able to fly if given the right assistance from Tommy.


Along with the strong puzzles, there is a very strong narrative too. What starts as a pretty simple story gradually becomes more complex. As you explore the lore this planet presents, you find yourself questioning whether the Armikrog are really the innocents you initially believed them to be. The history of Ixen and Spiro 5 have been interwoven to a point that a holographic being recognises your presence and has been awaiting your arrival. As more details become apparent you wonder whether Tommy can set things back to rights again and restore some peace to this beautiful but damaged world.



Armikrog is a rich and engaging game that is championed by a strong cast of voice actors including Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and Rob Paulson (Pinky and the Brain), and a vibrant soundtrack courtesy of Terry Scott Taylor. This keeps everything light and airy even in the trickiest of puzzles, and there are many one liners from Tommy and Beaky that will make you smile.


The artistry of the clay animation is superb and truly reflects its heritage. And with developers Ed Schofield and Mike Dietz at the helm once again it is little wonder this all feels so familiar. Doug TenNapel, creator of Earthworm Jim, has done a wonderful job of bringing Tommy and Beaky to life and making them such a great addition to the legacy of Clayman.

To sum up, while I wished Armikrog had a better save feature and/or a more free approach to trial and error in problem solving, it is highly enjoyable and a worthwhile addition to any gamer’s play list. If you like a great adventure puzzler with wit and deeper storyline underneath, or want to delve back into your childhood, then this is one you should absolutely check out.

Armikrog is coming soon to PS4, XBOX One and WiiU.



-Rem
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