The ‘point and click’ genre is one of my favourite genres. I grew up playing the likes of Monkey Island, Zak McKracken, Loom and countless other games that I’ve long since forgotten their names. One game that I’ll never forget, however, is The Neverhood. It was released in 1996 and the reason it is embedded in my head for eternity was its style – it was an entirely claymation creation. That’s right, the characters, the sets, all the objects, absolutely everything was made of clay. Now fast forward to 2016 and the team responsible for The Neverhood have, along with Pencil Test Studios and Grip Digital, brought its spiritual successor Armikrog to the PS4.
Armikrog is a point and click game that centres around one man, Tommynaut, his blind dog Beak-Beak and their quest to save planet Ixen. To save the planet they must go looking for some P-toniuim which is on planet Spiro-5. Unfortunately, on these life or death missions, nothing is ever simple and the duo crash-land on planet Spiro-5. Shortly afterwards, they find themselves holed up in a fortress that is the titular Armikrog. It’s down to you to explore this fortress, solve puzzles and unravel the mysteries that surround the fortress and Spiro-5.
Much of the exploration in the fortress involves you looking for levers so that you can open doors and make your way from room to room and solve puzzles. You can easily switch between Tommy and Beak-Beak, which is necessary as there are some areas that only Beak-Beak can enter and items that only the blind dog can find. Many of the puzzles rely on you figuring out the solutions by trial and error like the baby mobile puzzle, which requires you to hang the toys up in the correct order. But sometimes you are shown the solutions to the puzzles way before you come across the actual puzzle. This means you’ll either need to have an eidetic memory or have a notebook at hand to jot things down. An example of this happens very early in the game when you bump into AbrahANT Lincoln. He holds up a piece of paper and clicks a number of times; these related to a machine puzzle that I encountered twenty minutes or so later. That’s not to say you’ll need to constantly jot things down though as there are some logical tile-sliding puzzles to tackle as well.
Armikrog has made the jump from PC to console so as you’d expect the controls are pretty straightforward. The left thumbstick moves the cursor, cross is used to move/interact, and square switches between Tommynaut and Beak-Beak. As an added bonus you can use the touchpad to move the cursor and solve some of the puzzles.
Claymation has been done before but in Armikrog it is a pure work of art. Every single frame has been physically created and the attention to detail is stunning. The cutscenes seamlessly blend into the gameplay. The visuals deserve plenty of praise; anyone that walks into the room while you’re playing would probably assume you were watching an Aardman Animation. The voice acting isn’t too shabby either with John Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs) amongst the cast list.
There are eighteen trophies to unlock in Armikrog. There are a few miss-ables in the list, but the majority pop for simply playing the game and completing the puzzles. My advice is to just enjoy the game and then do a cleanup run to obtain the rest of the trophies.
Armikrog certainly stands out from the crowd thanks to its claymation visuals, but thankfully it doesn’t rely on its looks alone. We’ve got a good old-fashioned point and click game here. Sure, some of the puzzles may be a little repetitive and some of them even force us to use our brains instead of just bumbling our way into a solution, but if you’re a fan of the genre it is a game to play.
NelMaNo Rating – 7/10