by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Animation comes in many forms. One such animation style known as Claymation has been popularised by the Aardman Studios with their Wallace and Gromit movies and Shaun the Sheep television series. It uses clay models moved one step at a time to create the animation. Armikrog uses the same claymation technique with its visual style, and it looks amazing. In Armikrog, gamers take the role of an character known as Tommynaut and his faithful dog-like sidekick Beak-Beak in the spiritual successor to The Neverhood. After crash landing on a distant planet, it is up to you to find a way to get back home in this point and click puzzler.
Generally, the puzzles in Armikrog are quite straightforward. But, I did find that a pen and paper was handy for a few of them. If it wasn't for writing things down I would have had to keep backtracking to remember diagrams for some of the puzzles. Maybe I’m getting old and my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. But, I did enjoy those puzzles…they reminded me of gaming of old (prior to internet walkthroughs) when you had to write things down in order to remember the required items for a particular task. The puzzles are reasonably varied enough to make Armikrog interesting from start to finish. There were definitely times though when I was wondering what to do, before I started pixel hunting for a clue. A changing tooltip would definitely help this. Maybe the developers could add this in a patch.
Any items that Tommynaut picks up, simply gets shoved into his costume… well, actually it looks like he has a portal into his stomach. Unfortunately, there is no way to actually check what you’ve collected. Luckily, for the most part, you’ll use what you pick up almost immediately, but it would be nice to be able to see your inventory in order to think through some of the puzzles. And without knowing the exact content of Tommynaut's inventory, I was often looking around hoping to click on something (pixel hunt style) by accident.
Armikrog is actually a co-op puzzler, as there are times when you are required to switch between Tommynaut and Beak-Beak. Being smaller (and with an attitude akin to Bender from Futurama), Beak-Beak can access areas that are too small for Tommynaut to enter. He can pick up objects and bring them back to Tommynaut. Well, when I say pick up objects, I mean Beak-Beak swallows them and then proceeds to bring them up in front of Tommynaut, like a cat with a fur ball.
Lovely, unique visuals
From the initial animation sequence to the end titles, Armikrog’s visuals are gorgeous. Tommynaut and Beak-Beak have a simplistic look, but it works well in the setting. But it is the backdrops and locations that set Armikrog apart from the standard point and click. The developers have done an amazing job to give the sets a charm all of their own. The fully clay-moulded sets look stunning and certainly add to the overall atmosphere of Tommynaut’s crash site.
From an audio standpoint though, Armikrog is a little disappointing. Although there is some voice acting, there isn’t much of it. But what there is on show is done superbly and it’s a wonder that the developers did not attempt to put some more funny quips into the story. As mentioned earlier, Beak-Beak has a somewhat sarcastic tone throughout and Tommynaut has a kind nature and positive outlook. But as mentioned, there isn’t that much on offer. Indeed, you’ll spend long periods of time without audio interaction. The title music is pretty cool though, and I found myself singing the chorus in my head during my daily commute.
Short but sweet
Armikrog is a fun little puzzler. The puzzles are reasonably enjoyable and the visual style is just lovely. But the game just seems to lack a little polish, primarily in the inventory system and the story. I would have also loved to hear from Tommynaut and Beak-Beak more often. The game only runs for a handful of hours too, so if you’re after a lengthy challenge, you may be disappointed.
Beautiful claymation visuals
Short. Poor inventory system