Destination Primus Vita is a game that tries to tell an intimately personal story of a group of travellers on a perilous mission to save the world. It does so by getting you into the subconscious mind of each crew member as they sleep.
Basically, it’s Inception.
In 3044, humanity is on the brink of destruction. Centuries ago, gigantic metallic aliens called the Shatters came to Earth and stole all the water.
Yes, they stole the water.
The game revolves around Crew 121, an elite squad sent on a voyage to the Shatters titular home planet — Primus Vita. Their mission is to retrieve our water and hopefully learn something about these mysterious invaders.
Destination Primus Vita Review
The crew is being put into cryogenic sleep for the four year trip by the ships Artificial Intelligence, NIM. NIM creates dream simulations to prepare the crew for their mission. The puzzles stimulate their cognitive intelligence and the memories enhance their emotional intelligence.
This first episode of Destination Primus Vita focuses on Dr Austin Blair- Moreno, one of Earth’s foremost Quantum physicists. The rest of the crew is comprised of her brother Cody, a love interest Artemis, drug user Hayao, Shatters fanatic Geny and Brix a firefighter turned soldier.
The simulation is presented as floating scenes in space. In one scene Dr Austin must relive a specific memory involving one of her crewmates. In another, you have to find clues to solve a puzzle that unlocks a door or activates a machine.
The puzzles are mostly simple but rely heavily on clues you find through careful investigation. These clues appear as Interactive items in the scenes. A circular icon denotes interactive items and it grows or shrinks depending on your proximity to it.
This icon can often be difficult to spot. Thankfully, the game also gives an audible chime when you are close to something interactive. This quickly became my de facto method for finding several of the well-hidden items and clues.
One gripe with the puzzles is the controls. Most puzzles involving dragging a line across patterns according to the clues you’ve found. However, dragging the handle points is often inaccurate and sluggish.
This ends up slowing down your interaction with the puzzle element.
Similarly, navigating the labyrinths sections is also ambiguous and repetitive. Choose a wrong path and you are immediately beset by Shatter who kills you instantly.
The entrance of each labyrinth has a stone marked with four Shatter symbols.
As you go down the paths, you encounter a nexus in the path with a floating stone cube with a similar mark on each face. These are clearly directions but the game gives no clue which markers correlates to which direction.
I wasted a lot of time on trial and error to figure out where to go.
As you progress, the simulated threat of Shatters grows collapsing sections of the dream. There are a few direct Shatter encounters in which Destination Primus Vita employs quick time events.
Essentially, press the right button when it’s displayed in order to pass the hazards.
Do you dream in neon colors?
Overall, I have to say the game nails the feeling of sci-fi dream simulation. The design, lighting and ephemeral quality of the scenes are quite good. Similar to lucid dreaming where you are conscious of that you are dreaming. Dr Austin often speaks directly to NIM, questioning why a certain memory needs to be relived.
It’s this insight into the protagonist’s mind that is a highlight of Destination Primus Vita. Reliving memories and investigating the different scenes creates a clear picture of who and what you are dealing with.
Dr Austin is a deeply traumatised but brilliant woman who hides behind science, fastidiousness and an aloof professionalism. As a result, you see how she has judged, misjudged and treated those close to her. She’s been awkward in love and yet smothering the people she cares about with her overprotectiveness.
In one specific memory, Dr Austin recalls the exact moment when crew member Brix, apparently destroyed her most precious work years ago. Investigating the memory presents new perspective she had never even considered.
It’s a truly affecting moment because you realise how in real life, we often do the same.
A slow but promising start
Exploring the different memories gives insight into the events that have shaped Dr Austin into the woman she is today. Her driving motivations become clearer the more you investigate.
It is this character self-exploration that makes for a compelling game. It will be interesting to investigate the other crew members personal arcs in subsequent episodes.
Overall, this first episode of Destination Primus Vita shows promise. It stumbles with a few pacing issues, nebulous directions and some often dull puzzle sections. However, the story and the exposition of a colourful cast of characters make the game really shine.
Destination Primus Vita code was provided by the developer and reviewed on a Mac.
Game Title: Destination Primus Vita
Dream simulator - 7/10
Puzzles ad naseum - 5/10
Intriguing characters and story - 8/10
Fuzzy directions - 6/10