Armikrog Review

October 9, 2015

After the success of Double Fine’s Broken Age on Kickstarter, there’s been a veritable deluge of crowdfunded nostalgia-driven revivals. Developers of 90’s adventure games in particular have found a goldmine of fans with fond childhood memories, now older, with money to spend and ready to put up some dosh for another helping. We’ve seen Charles Cecil bring us Broken Sword 5, Jane Jensen back with Moebius: Empire Rising, Chris Jones with a new Tex Murphy game and now the creative talent behind claymation point-and-click adventure game The Neverhood  raised nearly US $1,000,000 on Kickstarter to develop a spiritual successor, Armikrog. The Neverhood was many things – charmingly cartoonish, amazing to look at, bafflingly obtuse at times and awesome to listen to. Many of these qualities have carried over to Armikrog, although not without a few hiccups.

Armikrog starts strong, with an amazingly catchy tune right out of the gate which briefly explains the premise of the game. Your claymation hero, an astronaut fortuitously named Tommynaut, has arrived on planet Spiro-5 to search for P-tonium, to save his homeworld’s people (who really aren’t referenced again beyond this). As you explore the fortress ‘Armikrog’,the meaty material of the backstory of Armikrog and its inhabitants proves to be hard to access, and the game will make you work for it. The long history is available through a slab of text in one of the game’s walls – a callback to a similar endless exposition hallway in The Neverhood – which does mean you’d best be prepared for half an hour of reading if you want to get the most of out of the game. On the other hand, you could always listen to the incomprehensible alien exposition dumps delivered by elevator octopodes – several of which appear throughout the game and can only be correctly translated after completing one of the final puzzles.

I’m actually a fan of games which are more about atmosphere than spoonfeeding you the entire story. Some of my favourite games are in the Myst series, which usually require you to read books of journals just to figure out what you’re even meant to be doing. Unfortunately, we come to my main problem with the game, which is that the atmosphere of Armikrog is marred by numerous technical issues.


Before the recent patch, Armikrog had a range of issues for various players, which ranged from the irritating to the game-breaking. Personally, I encountered glitches in the game’s sprites clipping in and out of the environment and moving out of sync. The sound would also occasionally completely disappear, necessitating a restart. On occasion, doors which were open would glitch between open and shut states, sometimes actually aiding me in puzzles by allowing me to pass through when I shouldn’t. Now that the patch has come through, the visual glitches seem to have largely vanished, but new problems have cropped up. Audio now tends to move out of sync with cutscenes and gameplay, and upon replaying the game I became stuck in a loop of triggering a cutscene, completing the following puzzle, and then triggering the cutscene and puzzle again. It’s problems like these that really detract from the overall experience of Armikrog. Hopefully some of these issues can eventually be resolved. Others might be more difficult, like the varying quality of the voice acting – not necessarily the performances themselves, but the actual recording quality, which at times is acceptable, but others is noticeably poor.

As a throwback to The Neverhood, actually controlling Tommynaut is exceedingly simple. Point-and-clicking around the screen will guide Tommy around and also allow him to pick up items to store in his extra-dimensional gut. There are no icons or interface to get in the way, which helps the wonderful claymation visuals stand on their own, but can cause confusion as to what you can and can’t interact with. Eventually you’ll realise that you can click on Tommy’s dog ‘Beak Beak’ to control him, and that he can pass through weird portals in the walls of Armikrog to find hidden items. It may take even longer for you to realise you can communicate with other animals (like the elevator octopus), as it’s fairly poorly indicated it’s even a possibility.

There are some good puzzles to be found in Armikrog, which usually rely on jotting down and deciphering symbols to unlock passageways to the next part of the fortress (using a notepad – like a true 90’s adventure game!), or utilising Beak Beak. A cool part of the fortress extends out like a concertina of folded cardboard, which is wonderfully creative. On the other hand, several puzzles make repeat appearances and can get wearing. A basic sliding block puzzle crops up three times, and the dreaded ‘lullaby’ puzzle comes back over and over again to haunt you. It’s not terribly difficult to figure out, but requires you to listen to a bizarre alien lullaby over and over to be able to construct it yourself. After your third time completing the puzzle, you begin to wonder if they only exist to pad the short length of the game (which can be completed in a couple of hours if you’re used to these kinds of puzzle-adventures).


When the game’s audio decides to work and the music kicks in, there are a couple of wonderful tunes by Terry S. Taylor. It’s sparse, and as a whole the sound design is a lot more ambient than the odd and unique tunes of The Neverhood but what is there lends the game some great personality.

Armikrog has a lot of things going for it that make me want to love it, but unfortunately it just falls short. The reliance on repetition of puzzles, short overall length and glitchy state of the game, even after a patch, swung the game just below the ‘good’ mark, for me. It’s still charming to look at, and has some great music to listen to, and if it finally gets patched into a fully workable state, it might be an enjoyable evening for Neverhood nostalgics. For others looking for a claymation adventure game to sink their teeth into, I’d suggest looking into the episodic The Dream Machine also on Steam.


Charming claymation visuals
Catchy music
Some good brain-stumping puzzles


Unpolished and buggy, even with patch
Voice recording quality varies greatly
Repeated puzzles chew up time
Ultimately quite short

Overall Score: