Armikrog by Pencil Test Studios hit Kickstarter in 2013 and quickly drew attention. That’s kind of expected when your development team includes the names behind classic title The Neverhood. This brand new claymation point and click adventure game hopes to recapture the magic of that older release for a brand new generation as well as existing fans. Although they’re not quite wrapped up with development just yet, they’re on the right course with what they’ve presented thus far.
The game stars Tommynaut, a lanky fellow with big black eyes, and Beak-Beak, a blind beaked dog creature. The two might seem an odd pair at first, but actually seem to be great teammates as players will quickly find out when they jump into the game. Armikrog begins with an attack from a coconut-esque monster taking down their ship and nearly eating Tommynaut alive. Luckily, the pair make it out safely… though they then find themselves trapped in a tower. It is your goal to solve puzzles to get them out of this newfound jail if you can.
Puzzles seem pretty standard as far as point and click adventure games are concerned, though there’s a few differences. For one, there’s no means to check your inventory. Characters will just stuff inventory items into their body and then pull the right one out when needed. It’s super convenient and avoids the problems many games have where players get stuck testing every item out on every puzzle. Also, you can swap between Tommynaut and Beak-Beak basically whenever you want. This dual character control isn’t just for fun as you’ll need to do it in order to solve a variety of puzzles. For example, Beak-Beak is the only one who can fit into small areas.
It’s impossible to jump into Armikrog and only analyze puzzle design, however. The thing that everyone notices most readily when playing is the jaw-dropping claymation and hand-made backdrops. The introductory cutscene animation is still incomplete (with storyboards telling part of the tale) but what is there looks absolutely breathtaking. It is far beyond any other claymation I’ve personally seen in shows and films. Of course, each background is also alive with color and tangible aspects. It’s not just made of clay either, as plastic-y parts stick out every so often revealing that this world is full of all kinds of doodads. Stunning is really the only way to describe the art style.
With all of this said, I’m a bit curious and concerned about the current state of Armikrog, as in many ways it appears to be the same as the preview build I’ve previously accessed months back as a Kickstarter backer. The portions of the cutscene still missing are the same, as are the bits of jittery weirdness that players may experience when working through puzzles. Although I didn’t replicate the bugs which definitely plagued me prior, I feel that the main goal up until now has been completing the game rather than bug-checking. The larger issue is simply that hard to notice objects still remain as unobtrusive as ever, which leads players to missing them the first time through a room.
These issues aren’t huge, though. Barring any massive bug fest when Armikrog launches, it seems like it is dead set to charm the heck out of everyone when it launches on August 18 for PC. You might recall that a Wii U release was also promised. Yes, that’s still coming! It just won’t be able to make it in time for the PC launch.