I’m of an age where 16-bit gaming was considered revolutionary. The Sega Mega Drive and SNES were turning points for console gamers, and I remember them fondly. As such, when developers revisit this wonderful era, I become giddy with delight. Consequently, when Primal Light was given to me, it brought a smile to my face. This distinctly old-school affair is tough and gaudy, but tough to put down.
Developed by Fat Gem and published by No Gravity Games, this is a retro platformer. Furthermore, it has an array of difficulty settings and its plot is bizarre. Accordingly, it won’t be for everyone, but I revelled in its madness and its harsh ways.
Primal Light is a story of tragedy and triumph.
Though Primal Light has a strong and familiar story, it plays second fiddle to the action that unfolds. Subsequently, it was easy to forget what was happening as you died for the nth time. Moreover, the standard platforming tropes keep the action honest. You are required to climb ladders, search for secret areas, kill monsters, and more. En route, you’ll find special abilities and artefacts to assist you on your journey. However, many of the abilities are progress-specific, and this was a shame. Instead of making the hero all-powerful for fun, you couldn’t advance if you failed to do so.
The plot revolves around Krog. He is a blue-skinned being who witnesses the decimation of his people. Furthermore, his home has been destroyed, and he has been left on a dangerous planet to survive. Yet, if you collect the 12 artefacts, you can thwart the phantom that inflicted such sorrow, and save the day.
Like many Mega Drive games, the developers have relied on rinse-and-repeat mechanics. Consequently, the action follows a simple gameplay loop that could be considered tedious or monotonous. Luckily, though, there are enough drip-fed elements to challenge you throughout. What’s more, the fresh abilities and powerful artefacts help to keep things fresh. On top of this, you’ll encounter a range of monsters, traps, and obstacles as the stages become more convoluted.
Alongside this, there is the occasional smattering of Metroidvania moments, and the gargantuan bosses keep you thinking. Every stage concludes with an almighty boss battle. These harsh beasts shoot fire, blast lasers, drop bombs, and so forth. However, fortunately, they follow a set routine, so beating them comes down to practice and patience. Yet, if you die, you respawn at the nearest campfire. Here, you’ll be given fresh health potions and a full health meter. As such, dying isn’t as harsh as it could be, and I appreciated this approach.
Primal Light takes us back to the 90s.
90s gaming won’t be for everyone. The vivid colours, pixelated sprites, and simple backdrops are considered too rudimentary. However, Primal Light has its retro style nailed down. I adored the basic animation, the rough imagery, and the simple side-scrolling camera. Moreover, the enemies looked great, and the bosses were incredible.
The audio follows suit with its dark, ear-splitting ways. With an electronic finish and a sinister edge, the creepy and daunting atmosphere was well and truly set. On top of this, the basic, but effective sound effects were awesome. I loved the sound of magic, the swinging of your weapon, and the cries of your foes.
Surprisingly good controls.
I cherish retro gaming, but a dated control system is infuriating. The 4-point d-pad movement was restrictive and frustrating. Luckily, though, Primal Light has designed its levels to mitigate this problem. Instead, the game flows nicely, and the combat excels as a consequence. Alongside this, there is the familiar input lag that enhances its dated appeal.
This isn’t an easy game to complete. Even on its lowest setting, you’ll be tested from start to finish. Consequently, if you wish to be tested, the hardest setting will push you to your limits. As such, there is both replay value and longevity if you have sadomasochistic tendencies.
Primal Light is a nostalgia-fuelled treat.
Fat Gem has done an amazing job of revisiting a much-loved gaming era. Furthermore, their balanced approach and challenging mechanics will test you throughout. I adored this nostalgia-fuelled experience, and I recommend that you buy it here! Can you turn a tragedy into a triumph? Leap chasms, avoid traps, and defeat every enormous boss.