Primal (video game)

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Four Realms. Two souls. One destiny.


"Civilization is only skin deep."


Perky Goth Jen and her gargoyle companion Scree battle through four elemental realms to restore balance between Order and Chaos. Along the way Jen gains the ability to transform into four demonic forms. Pretty Tropetastic for a single game not in an already established universe.

A British counterpart to Ico, Primal is as much or more about experiencing the game's universe and interaction between characters as it is about gameplay. Sometimes it's like a luxuriously animated old-school text adventure. In contrast to Ico's minimalist approach, Primal spared no expense in its presentation production values. Motion capture, BAFTA nominated soundtrack, machine band combat soundtrack, lavish object and character models, luxurious textures, top-quality voice acting, richly imagined worlds, cultures and races, realistic characters with sometimes extravagant amounts of dialog.

Developed by SCEE Cambridge, the development team responsible for Medievil and its sequel, Primal (2003) is a PlayStation 2 exclusive. Even today, it can hold its own against more recent games. It is a single player, two character action/adventure game focusing on Jen, a mortal girl attacked when leaving a nightclub with her boyfriend Lewis, singer in the club's band.

The attack leaves Jen and Lewis unconscious in a hospital. A short, dark figure approaches Jen's bed and raises her spirit up out of her body. The figure reveals itself to be a small stone gargoyle named Scree. Scree explains that Jen's body is close to death and she must come with him to the Nexus.

The player can control either Jen or Scree, an animated stone gargoyle, as they travel through four fantastic realms to restore the balance between Order, represented by Lady Arella, and Chaos, represented by Abaddon.

Controllable Characters

  • Jen, a snarky Goth girl.
    • Slim enough to enter spaces too narrow for Scree.
    • Jen obtains forms with different abilities in the various Realms. One of the forms is an almost unique aquatic form. This permits a full water level, as well as watery paths in later levels.
    • Jen will do most of the fighting, using only melee attacks, despite the fact that some enemies have ranged attacks. During combat Scree freezes into immobility. If Jen can get clear of combat Scree will loosen up enough to let Jen heal by drawing energy from him.
  • Scree, a possessed gargoyle statue. Powers include:
    • Able to walk up some dressed stone walls.
    • Carry a torch for light and incendiary purposes.
    • Collect lodestones.
    • Possess some statues, if he has sufficient lodestones.
    • Store elemental energy from fountains, energy stones, blobs of energy and enemy corpses.

Jen's Elemental forms are healed by drawing elemental energy from Scree that only he can collect. Her human form is weakest, but regenerates naturally after a short time of not being hit.

Notable Voice Actors:

  • Scree - voiced by Andreas Katsulas, who played G'Kar in Babylon 5 and the one-armed man in the Harrison Ford movie, The Fugitive. Sadly, Andreas passed away in 2006 of cancer.
  • Jen - voiced by Hudson Leick, who played Callisto as a recurring role in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
  • Jared - voiced by Sean Pertwee. Son of Jon Pertwee of Doctor Who fame. Sean also voiced the Aquis Engineer uncredited. (You can't mistake that voice.)

It has been released as a PlayStation 2 classic on the Playstation Network.

Tropes used in Primal (video game) include:

  • Aborted Arc: Scree grills Jen about her Power Tattoo, saying the symbol is very important, and asking where the designer saw it. While the same symbol is seen all throughout the game, we're never told why it's so important, or what it means.
  • Action Girl: Jen
  • Actor Allusion - Jen says 'Hold it, Xena!' to a Wraith Guard Captain Valeera before they fight. Hudson Leick, who voiced Jen, played Callisto in Xena: Warrior Princess.
  • Adventure Narrator Syndrome[context?]
  • After Boss Recovery
  • Aliens Speaking English: Enough of the demon tongue is spoken for flavor, sometimes to Jen, but the majority of communication with the races of Oblivion is in English on both sides.
  • All Drummers Are Animals
  • Annoying Arrows: The enemy archers can be troublesome, but deal very little damage.
  • Apathetic Citizens
    • The Helot peasants in Aetha, the Realm of Air. Hiding in a cellar, waiting to be killed and fed off of one by one.
    • The Ferai commoners in Solum. They heard a terrible fight at Jared's camp. No one's seen Jared since. No one goes to check.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Wraith Count Raum, Countess Empusa and their daughter Elizabeth in Aetha.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking
    • King Herne in Solum.
    • King Adaro in Aquis.
    • Count Raum and Countess Empusa in Aetha.
  • Back Tracking: Fortunately there are a number of portals which can instantly teleport Jen and Scree to any other portal they've found yet.
  • Bag of Sharing: Both Jen and Scree can pick up energy gems and keys.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: More like Order Versus Chaos, but the chaos side has chosen to go for outright destruction instead.
  • The Baroness: Wraith Countess Empusa of the Aetha.
  • Battle Theme Music - by machine band 16Volt.
  • Berserk Button - Don't call Scree "short."
  • BFS - The large fire sword in Djinn form is the most powerful attack form in the game.
  • Blade on a Stick: The demons of Aquis are fond of these.
  • Bling of War: Wraith guards in Aetha. Armor as Costume Porn.
  • Bridge Logic: A tree bridge in Solumn and a statue bridge in Volca.
  • Button Mashing: Combat. Sometimes it works great, often it doesn't.
  • Camera Abuse: You see the raindrops hitting the screen when you look up or into the wind in rainy areas. You also see trails of water running down the screen when surfacing from diving.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Herne
  • City Guards: Guarding a door in Solum. Jen and Scree must show them the talisman from Jared to pass.
  • Cool Gate: The Rift Gates.
  • Captain Count Ersatz: Evil Count in a castle what could easily pass for the Carpathian mountains. Gains invulnerability, and perhaps immortality, by feeding off of the blood of poor villagers.
    • Lampshaded by Jen's "I guess the ol' 'fangs in the neck' trick went out of fashion" when she sees the Blood Machine.
  • Courtly Love: listen to Scree the first time he describes Lady Arella. Since he's in her service and the only one of the party who can hold a flaming stick, he often carries a torch for her as well.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Scree is really Arella's champion, Abdizur, forced to use a stone gargoyle body he used to escape captivity in Volca. Foreshadowed when Scree possesses a statue of Abdizur to fight Belahzur in the Colosseum in Solum. Arella addresses Scree as Abdizur in the next visit to the Nexus.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Averted. Though not ugly or overly monstrous, the demon farms are definitely not "cute".
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Wraith nobility.
  • Deadly Dodging: The final fight vs Ibliss in Volca. Jen must hide behind the largest lamps so the giant statue would destroy them trying to hit her.
  • Death Glare: Jen gives one to Scree when he proposes to just walk past her and turn on the switch that will start the turbine and kill Arturo, the Undine engineer. Scree later muses "We can't turn this on without chopping up Arturo. I kill him. Jen kills me. Hmmmm."
  • The Dragon: Belahzur.
  • Doing It for the Art
  • Down the Drain
  • Dual Boss: Raum and Empusa.
  • Dual-Wielding: All of Jen's elemental forms have a two-weapon attack, claws, lightning, dagger and whip, or double daggers.
  • Dying Dream
  • Easter Egg
    • Walk up to the fire in the Hunt Camp after talking with the Shaman in a cutscene for an optional cutscene.
    • Have Jen chat several times with Scree immediately after a return to the Nexus.
    • When Jen gains the Wraith form, the grave stone she smashes says "RIP Laura Cruft", a (misspelled) Shout-Out to Tomb Raider's Lara Croft.
      • Which can be seen as either Hilarious in Hindsight or not, considering that the then upcoming Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness bombed.
  • Elemental Powers - Not strictly speaking, but the four realms of Oblivion correspond to the classical four elements, Earth, Water, Air and fire.
  • Emergency Weapon: Jen's human form.
  • Emperor Scientist: Count Raum
  • Epic Flail: Used by some wraith guasrds, paired with a large shield.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Lots of spinning control wheels, and rift gates.
  • Exposition Fairy: Jen can ask Scree for help. In Count Raum's Mansion in Aetha an array of severed heads serve this purpose in a cutscene. In the mansion proper various severed heads randomly hanging around shout advice and encouragement.
  • Face Heel Turn: Jen, when possessed by King Iblis' Djinn energy. Lewis, presumably possessed by similar means.
  • Fake King
    • Ferai Queen Devena of Solum is actually dead. She's been replaced by a demon magically to imitate her.
    • King Adaro of Aquis has been transformed into a monster by unfiltered 'normal' water in his world. His queen allows him to sacrifice her to alleviate the problem.
    • Iblis of Volca pretends not to be the king when he actually is.
  • Finishing Move: Jen must kill some defeated enemies with a finishing move or they quickly recover some of their health. Weak Mooks like the Malkai and lava people are exceptions.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Jen's Undine form uses lightning attacks. The Djinn form uses flaming blades. The Ferai Realm is permanent night, winter, and snow.
  • Foreshadowing: Concerning Jen's origin, and Scree's true identity and Lewis involvement are scattered almost liberally.
  • Friendly Fireproof: averted. Jen can be hurt by her few allies. Opponents can be hurt by each other. It's even possible to lure one opponent into the line of fire of an opponent with a ranged weapon.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Scree.
  • Get Back Here Boss: Raum and Empusa have an annoying habit of flying out of rsnge of Jen's attacks and raining down magical beam attacks.
  • Giant Enemy Crab - The Glakk (possibly acronym for Giant Land Aquisian King Krab?) is bigger than Jen.
    • On land it's slow and tough. Frequently fights in pairs.
    • In water it fires damaging pulses of water at Jen, in addition to being slow and tough.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Jen. They mostly carry over to her elemental forms, as well.
  • Girly Run: Averted with Jen.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: The Wraith Royalty in Aetha, also Jen's dress at the masked ball.
    • The armor of the various Wraith guards, the Wraith musicians, and the Wraith at the masked ball is pure Costume Porn.
  • Grave Clouds
  • Grave Humor: Wraith Jen breaks a tombstone for 'Laura Cruft' with a death year of 2003, the year Primal was released.
  • Guide Dang It: Averted via a hint system.
  • Heroic BSOD: Jen, after Aetha. Scree's pep talk is classic. "Now, my girl, stop that. Right, the best thing to do when things get as bad as this is to look at the facts. Agreed? Good. Fact number one- and top fact on the list- I'm still alive. Agreed? Good. Fact number two... you're still here to take care of me! Thank goodness for facts."
  • Hide Your Children: Played straight with the Helot children.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Tauntauns!
  • In a Single Bound: Jen in Ferai form, can jump twice her height.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Scree can blimb on much fewer walls than he should be able to.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Jen has a taunt move in combat. It does notthing, but taunt.
  • Jiggle Physics: Jen, a B-cup at best, has a slight wavy motion on her cleavage when she runs. More of a graphical distortion than actual physics model.
    • One of the game trailers has a section where she runs toward the camera in a manner designed to show off this 'feature'. So subtle, by modern standards, it took multiple viewings to notice.
      • Even then the tip off was that the scene had no apparent point, leading to closer examination.
    • When Jen transforms to/from a beast form, she rises into the air, tilts back, and the camera centers on her torso as she vibrates up and down.
      • If this happens in an enclosed area the camera may be forced into a rewarding jiggle close-up.
  • Kill It with Fire:
  • Living Statue: Scree not only is an animated statue, but possesses and animates other statues to progress in the game.
  • Losing Your Head: The snarky severed heads in the torture chamber.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Wraith Count Raum in Aetha.
  • The Maze: A small hedge maze in Aetha.
    • Lampshaded when Jen remarks, "I hate mazes," "Eugh. Mazes suck," on encountering it.
  • Mister Exposition: Scree at great length the start of the game and each realm. Generally at least two other characters per Realm.
  • Mobile Maze - There's a switch in the maze that causes it to change. That permits the player to advance to another switch that changes the maze again, but to a much simpler form.
  • Mood Dissonance: Jen is a fountain of this.
  • Motion Capture, and lots of it.
  • No Body Left Behind: Averted, all dead monsters leave corpses.
  • No Flow in CGI
  • Non Mammalian Mammaries: the female Undine.
  • Not Quite Dead: Scree
  • Oh God, Did She Just Hear That?: When Jen sees Chronos for the first time in a Nexus cutscene she says, "Jeez... he's looking at me!" Scree replies "Perhaps he can hear you, too."
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: During the boss battle with Adaro.
  • 1-Up: Life Gems for Jen.
  • One-Winged Angel
  • Order Versus Chaos: The entire premise of Primal. Arella was the literal personification of order, and is explicitly named to be so. Her polar opposite is Abbadon.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: Scree
  • Perky Goth: Jen
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Jen wears one to the masked ball in Aetha.
  • Power Tattoo: Jen has a circular design on her back that glows when she adopts various demonic forms.
  • Puzzle Boss
  • Right in Front of Me
  • Royal Brat: Elizabeth.
  • Royal Rapier: Count Raum's weapon of choice.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: In Oblivion, chances are if they have a royal title, they're very proactive.
  • The Reveal: Jen's boyfriend Lewis is working for Chaos.
  • Save the Villain
  • Graphics Porn, lots of it.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit
  • Shield Bearing Mook: Appear in all demon worlds, except Aquis.
  • Sinister Scythe: Jared's weapon of choice.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps
  • Sliding Scale of Visuals Versus Dialogue
  • Speaking Simlish: The "Demon Tongue", as Scree Calls it.
  • Spikes of Villainy: A common sight on Wraith guards.
  • Spring Jump
  • Super-Powered Evil Side
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Lodestones appear just when needed.
    • This may be partly due to a unique feature of the game. After playing an unlocked cutscene the game continues on from that point.
  • Take That: at Lara Croft. Wraith Jen breaks a tombstone for 'Laura' Croft with a death year of 2003, the year Primal was released.
  • Tarot Motifs
  • Timed Mission: Shortly after you enter Aquis (the Waterworld) and get the "Undine" (fish-like creature) form, Queen Aino is raised out of the water. You have to turn two valves on the other end of the lake to get her back into the water. There's no visible clock, just her increasingly desperate cries of "Help me!" every 15 seconds or so, and if you don't rescue her, she will eventually die... and so will Jen.
    • If Jen runs out of health in human form, the rift gates will open, and you, as Scree, have to get to one to bring Jen back. Just like the Aino mission, there is no visible clock, but you still have to move it, or risk a Game Over.
  • Transformation Sequence: Very often, and longer than needed.
  • Twin Tails: Jen has them as a human and they carry over, in some form, in her demonic aspects as well.
  • Under the Sea: A full-blown underwater level.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Jen, the female main character, can shapeshift into unique monster-like forms.
  • Walk It Off: In human form Jen regenerates health when not in combat. Fighting in human form also saves Life Gems, which are automatically used when Jen runs out of energy in beast form. So there's a double reason to fight in human form as much as possible.
  • Wall Crawl: The gargoyle Scree can climb 'any stonework surface.'
  • Whip It Good: Jen's Wraith form.
  • Wolverine Claws: Jen's Ferai form.