You don't see that many claymation games anymore. Thankfully, Doug TenNapel and gang are back to show gamers just how awesome the art form is. However, does their new game live up to their previous triumphs?
Before I begin, I should mention that I have never actually played The Neverhood, but I was absolutely obsessed with Skullmonkeys when it first debuted on the original PlayStation. The off-the-wall sense of humour, incredible soundtrack, and general sense of oddity made a weird kid like me very excited. I'm happy to say that Armikrog carries on this spirit perfectly within its unconventional world. The claymation scenes are hilarious. Heck, just watching Tommynaut saunter around while occasionally placing the odd object into his body cavity will put a smile on anyone's face. I'm quite pleased that Terry Scott Taylor returned to do the soundtrack as it's full of fantastic tunes that suit each scenario wonderfully. Overall, Armikrog's quirky world is treated with as much care as previous Neverhood games which makes everything come to life.
Armikrog is a point-and-click adventure game similar to The Neverhood. You play by selecting where you want Tommynaut (or his dog, Beak-Beak) to move then interact with installations that help them progress in their journey. Figuring out how to get through the puzzles can be a tricky endeavor. You'll find many solutions within story sequences or in your surroundings. I'm glad that I played on PlayStation 4 so I could take advantage of the Share button because screenshots are much easier to reference than my untrustworthy memory. It can get frustrating at times, but the satisfaction you get from finally having things click makes everything worth it.
One thing that I found interesting is how Armikrog allows you to freely traverse the world at your leisure. There are a few secrets waiting to be found so backtracking after you've completed the adventure can be a rewarding feat. You never know what you'll find lurking in the nooks and crannies. That being said, most gamers will be happy enough to just get through the story and there really isn't anything that adds a significant amount of replay value anyway. Considering the entire campaign takes about a handful of hours to finish, it would have been awesome to have more reasons to play through again. In other words, it's a very short-lived experience.
Armikrog's biggest problem is the fact that the puzzles eventually get tiresome. This is due to two main reasons. The first is that far too many tasks are monotonously similar. Whether you're finding a lever to place in a holder for the umpteenth time or controlling the dog to work through lifeless tunnels, it starts to get dull fast. The second reason lies in certain puzzles' tedious nature. Using terminals to slowly move puzzle pieces back and forth in order to make a picture appear can take an extraordinarily long time. Also, moving between rooms and having your dog stand on buttons so you can progress inch by inch then going all the way back to retrieve him is just boring. Finally, the controls can be frustratingly finicky at times. I can only speak for the PlayStation 4 version, but I found the cursor would snap to things too eagerly thus preventing me from highlighting a nearby object. It's not a big problem, but worth mentioning.
As an existing fan of Doug TenNapel's previous work, I'm very happy that Armikrog is finally available for console. Although it's not quite as good as his other games, there's enough oddball fun here to warrant a purchase.
- + Quirky game world comes to life with great animation, music, and humour
- + Puzzles are satisfying to figure out
- + Free exploration is fun for perfectionists
- - Many tasks are way too similar and puzzles can be extremely tedious
- - Occasional frustrating control issues
- - Fairly short with very little replay value