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Primal Fears (PC) artwork

Primal Fears (PC) review

"Not everyone with a Steam account is going to appreciate a game like Primal Fears, but those of us who enjoy a modest overhead shooter now and then might bask in the basic violence and be happy as pigs in slop."

Primal Fears asset

There are days when I return home from a rough day at work, my brain is mush, and I'm not in the mood for the pretentious prattle that sometimes comes with an overblown narrative. I've also had days where my weary brain requests a vacation, having overworked itself during a mentally taxing project--usually after playing a clever adventure game or Alundra. During such occasions in my life, I don't want a title that's loaded with special rules or contemporary concepts or ceaseless blather inspired by remedial philosophy. Damn it, I just want to grab a gun, charge recklessly into a vast company of inhuman targets, and cut loose a barrage ordinance grand enough to make the visual effects in a Michael Bay film seem humble. It's at those particular points in my life that I want nothing more than to play a dumb shooter, if only to sate a few of my most basic gaming desires.

I've found such pleasure in the game Primal Fears, a post-apocalyptic title in which a mutagenic chemical known as (commence eye rolling in 3...2...) pharGONe has transformed everyday citizens into ravenous beasts. With a fancy collection of upgradable weapons and explosives, you take to the streets and do what any survivor with a ridiculous amount of firepower would do: paint the asphalt red and green with monster blood.

Primal Fears asset

Simple joys can be found in this unpretentious combination of concepts. I loved unloading my doctored shotgun into a group of balloon-like monster pups. I dug pounding nails into massive pus-belching abominations, just to see their impressively gigantic frames keel over and curl up. My personal favorite, though, involved emptying my assault rifle into what appeared to be an enormous egg sac with limbs. As its life bar dissipated the creature would erupt into a fountain of gore, revealing a mighty swarm of the aforementioned balloon-pups. The piece de resistance for this encounter, though, was brandishing my flamethrower and sending out a tongue of fire. The flames, ever so swift, would kiss the swarm and cause them to pop in unison.

Battling any one enemy type by itself only offers limited entertainment value, though. It isn't until Primal Fears regularly pits you against a multifarious contingent of foes that the game really picks up. Usually, such bloodbaths begin with a handful of pups darting straight for you. That's when the BGM's tempo spikes in the hopes of similarly raising your ire. Agile stalkers then join the fray, followed bulbous, bug-like horrors. Eventually, a gargantuan mutant--usually a tall, slender sprinter or a more massive version of the aforementioned stalkers-- numbers itself among its brothers. I don't know about you, but that's when I lose myself: rockets fly, grenades burst, turrets and explosive RCs whir to life, and bodies eventually litter the battlefield.

Primal Fears asset

Wonderful though mindless action can be, let's face it: tends to get repetitive. I know it sounds crazy to fault a game like Primal Fears with repetition when that's the nature of its ilk, but no amount of excuses and pardons can put a positive--or at least a non-negative--spin on extreme repetition. Primal Fears does what it can to provide variety, though. Mainly, it showcases stages with specialized structure, gimmicks, or perils. Take, for example, the sewers. It's the only stage that features life-ending pitfalls. You also have the police station, which can be claustrophobic at times, and a lab stage that involves hunting down multiple keys to several locked doors. Unfortunately, these concepts don't alleviate the game's repetitive nature much. They don't change the fact that every scene is inherently you against an army of man-hungry monsters, and that the path to victory is paved with witless shooting.

Worse yet are the few moments in which you war through long, punishing gauntlets of enemies before reaching a checkpoint. The absolute pits, though, is when you spend up to fifteen minutes reaching a checkpoint, only to die when you're mere yards away. That's usually when I sigh and contemplate if I want to pick up the pieces and start over or call it a night. It is possible to take the old RPG route and replay previously finished stages in an effort to farm cash and upgrade your weaponry, but do you really want to spend that much more time playing a game that's inherently repetitive?

Primal Fears asset

Don't get me wrong, though; I dig Primal Fears. It's a good palate cleanser for gamers who pine for a less intellectual challenge, so as to give their overstressed minds a rest. However, whether or not you will enjoy it depends on your tolerance for simple shooting and repetition. Not everyone with a Steam account is going to appreciate a game like Primal Fears, but those of us who enjoy a modest overhead shooter now and then might bask in the basic violence and be happy as pigs in slop.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 12, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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