Far Cry Primal
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Open-World Adventure
Release Dates: March 1, 2016 (EU & NA)
Price: 39,99€ (uPlay)
Far Cry Primal takes the already famous open-world Far Cry formula back in time to the stone age in 10,000 BC, so if you were looking for a video game to explore that period in time, Primal might be your best choice, since there aren't that many games set in that period. You play as Takkar, a hunter whose mission is to rebuild the Wenja clan and defeat their enemies, the Udam and the Izila. The story is pretty straight forward, without any surprises or unexpected events along the way, but that doesn't mean the road to the end isn't fun, because dull as it is, Far Cry Primal's campaign does a decent job at introducing you to the life in the Stone Age, a few notable characters and the gameplay mechanics unique to that time period.
The big disappointment is that apart from a few sections, most notably the "visions", Primal's missions play exactly the same: go there, fetch that, come back and repeat, with a boss battle in between every few missions. The order in which you choose to explore Primal's world and complete the various missions, side quests and Wenja events is entirely up to you and that is how the game manages to keep you playing, as you will most likely find something that will catch your attention more than anything else. There are dozens of side missions to complete, resources to gather, equipment to craft, huts to build and upgrade, animals to hunt and tame, and much more.
This is all stuff that you have seen before in Far Cry games and other Ubisoft titles, with a prehistoric theme, but considering the fact that the story alone only takes a few hours to complete you'll probably be glad they were included there in the first place to give you something else to do in between missions or after the credits roll. The cast of characters is varied enough, but Primal never really takes the time to dig into a character's personal story and his/her motives: you have the creepy shaman, the veteran hunter, the not so trusty ally, and many others, but it's such a shame that there are only a few missions related to each one, so you never have the chance to get attached to them and in the end they feel more like sidelines on a world that is otherwise vast and full of life.
If your main concern is that Primal is just Far Cry 4 with a prehistoric skin you can skip that because this isn't the case; in fact, for most parts Primal feels like a much more enjoyable experience that any Far Cry game before it, but at the same time the simplicity of the time period makes it repetitive after a while. There are only 3 main weapons that you will probably use in every situation and switch between them accordingly: the bow, the spear and the club; on top of that you have smoke and fire bombs, shards and slings, but for most of the game I forgot those even existed, simply because I didn't find a use for them.
On the bright side, all weapons are upgradable, so for the first half of the game I was constantly on the look-out for resources to upgrade my weapons, keep my arrows and spears stock full and collect the resources I needed to upgrade my village too, something that is quite enjoyable considering the constant feel of adventure that Primal throws at you with unexpected beast attacks, new locations and enemy camps that have a unique feel of constant danger nearby. For example a lot of outposts have cave hallways with unexpected ends, waters filled with crocodiles and danger lurking at every corner, and that is why Primal manages to be such an enjoyable experience despite all its flaws. Primal embraces that idea even further with the optional Survival Mode, that disables the mini-map, fast travel and makes the game much harder; there is also a perma-death option if you feel like going full-ahead on the Survival concept.
While the main missions give you an insight of Primal's mechanics and world, it's your own adventures that will stay with you after you have completed the game; with over 30 hours played and the main campaign finished, I barely passed the 50% completion rate, simply because there is so much more to do in Far Cry Primal, and choosing your own adventures is the fun aspect of this game, simply because the world around you is so huge and begging to be explored.
While the Dunia Engine 2, used to develop Far Cry Primal isn't the best engine Ubisoft has created in recent years, it does a decent job crafting the world around you, and for the simplicity of nature combined with primitive structures, Primal manages to look beautiful and intriguing for every step of the way. The world is massive, but it's also filled with things to do, there are collectibles at every corner, side missions that will take you to underground caves and tunnels and some breathtaking images that showcase how breathtaking nature can be. Other effects such as water could look better, but that aside Primal is still a beautiful world to get lost in.
The interesting thing about Primal's voice acting is that there is an entire language created just for this game that the Wenja speak, something that feels unique and welcome at the same time, since it breaks any language barrier and disputable accents that previous Far Cry games had to deal with. You can add subtitles to the dialogue, but the fact that someone created hundreds of words just for this showcases how dedicated they were to bring this world to life. The sound effects feel natural and gory, just as the game is intended to be, with club swings that make you feel the stone club crushing an enemy's skull, or a beast's belly being opened as you skin them, making the use of any song pointless in this game, as nature is the only sound you need to fully appreciate Primal's world.
From the main campaign to the dozens of side missions, Wenja events, collectibles, upgrades and crafting, there is more than 50 hours worth of content in here, and even if certain things do get repetitive after a while, Primal is the type of game you would revisit once every few weeks just for one more adventure.
By nature, the simplicity of the times makes Primal's gameplay feel repetitive after a while, but the vast open world, numerous quests and breathtaking world will outnumber any flaws that the game might have. If you are looking for a one of a kind, prehistoric experience, but don't care much about the story and you would rather just explore the world, Far Cry Primal is a game you must play.