You know a game is good when you literally have to rip yourself away from it in order to write a review. I’m sitting here, with my computer monitor on the right, and my TV with the pause screen of Far Cry Primal teasing me on the left, tempting me to just pick that controller up and do a little more hunting with my saber tooth tiger. But alas, I must sit here and let it taunt me while I fill you in on what’s so cool about this game before I get back to building up my experience points so that I can unlock the ability to ride a bear.
Far Cry Primal is an action adventure game in the first person point of view that takes you back to the stone age. As the protagonist Takkar, you must attempt to save and rebuild your tribe, the Wenja, while battling the elements, animals, and other rival tribes. What we expected to be a spin-off like Blood Dragon and Instincts is actually a full-fledged release. Fans of the series will recognize its typical mechanics such as exploring the open world of Oros, conquering outposts, scavenging for gear to craft your weapons and garnering experience so that you can build Takkar to be the biggest badass in 10,000 BCE.
Besides the obvious lack of modern weaponry such as any kind of pistol or rifle, Primal’s major difference from the other Far Cry games is its absence of a pivotal enemy or nemesis. In Far Cry 3 you had Vaas, in Far Cry 4 it was Pagan Min. Far Cry Primal’s main enemy is the world itself, because as you can imagine, living during the stone age was all about survival of the fittest, the law of the jungle. I do feel there is something a little odd not having that overarching nemesis to fear while playing the game since we have grown so accustomed to it in the previous titles. It doesn’t take away from the game; it’s just something to get used to. You still have that man vs. wild anxiety that fuels your gameplay. You start as a weakling, jumping at every wind gust that rustles the leaves and progress to conquer nature and become the Beast Master, ripping through the woods, fearing no man nor beast. As a result, the story isn’t as compelling as in previous releases but I still feel Far Cry Primal is a solid game.
Let’s talk about being a Beast Master. This is probably my favourite part of this game. We are familiar with animals being in Far Cry: they were a pain in the ass in 3, attacking you while you were sneaking up on an outpost and outing you to the enemy camp, and in 4, although still annoying, you could use them as a tool to help take down a camp. In Primal, they are your friends and are very useful for both attacking and defending. Each animal you tame has its strengths and weaknesses; some stealthy and nimble but weaker in combat, while others might be slow and conspicuous but pack a serious punch. As you tame more and more animals, you’ll learn said attributes and know on which to call depending on the situation at hand. Here’s a tip: while on the prowl to gain another animal for your team, call a weaker one to your side. Jaguars will run in the presence of a bear, so call on your wolf instead. You are not limited to four-legged creatures either: an owl is the first beast you master, and he is invaluable. As your eyes in the sky, the owl can scout camps while you hide in the bushes, attack foes by dropping bundles of bees on their heads or even sick your beast of choice on an unsuspecting enemy. The creatures you make your companions are essential to your survival. Oh and they are hella cute too!
I was intrigued when I found out that the team at Ubisoft was creating three new languages for Far Cry Primal. And you know what, they work. The voice acting in this game is impeccable, and I think it’s the addition of these prehistoric inspired languages that suck you into the experience. Elias Toufexis as Takkar has just the right amount of growl in his voice to make you think he is part beast himself, and the translations in the subtitles are improper english enough to make it feel ancient and arcane. The voices of Jayma (Ayisha Issa), Tensay (Phillip E. Walker) and Sayla (unknown to me right now) are just as good, easily transporting me back in time.
The game is not without a few technical issues. I saw some frame drops and a few NPC AI bugs such as enemies getting stuck on a cliff, but nothing major. The graphics are gorgeous, the world is exquisite, and the art team must had really done its research in creating a realistic feel to the weapons, the village structures and the artifacts used by the tribes.
I leave you now so that I can jump back into my teleportation device that is my Xbox One. If you have played a Far Cry game before, give this one a spin. If you haven’t, jump right into Primal. Now, I’m off to ride a bear through Oros!