Doug TenNapel is a brilliant man, having created succesful games like the beloved Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood. Going in knowing about his specialization in claymation and notably odd humor, I was excited to get my hands on something birthed from such a marvelous figurehead. Unfortunately, Armikrog completely failed to captivate or amaze me. The game itself should simply not have been created, as its comic and episodic feel deems it much more appealing for television audiences. The puzzles are boring, the story is only decent, and overall, it feels pretty simple for a point-and-click adventure game, which controls especially poorly on consoles. What it does have going for it is that rare breed of zany artistic style that would melt the heart of any animation fanatic. If interesting art design is your thing, this game might just be for you, but if not, you should probably look elsewhere.
I'll get the most important thing out of the way first: playing this game on a Playstation 4 is an absolute nightmare. Right from the get-go, you'll notice that your cursor locks onto any item that you hover over. If you're a veteran point-and-click adventure fan such as myself, you definitely understand why this is an issue. The fun of a game such as this comes from the charm of exploring an area and clicking on different things to find out what they do. Thankfully, there is an option to turn this feature off, but the joystick control feels sluggish and annoying, and the touchpad does not function the same way as a mouse would. All in all, if you do decide to play Armikrog, I recommend playing it on PC over any other platform.
Even if you were not accounting for the flaws present in the console versions of this game, it still isn't all that great from a gameplay perspective. Each and every area design feels like the same place in a different space that uses the same tropes, same mechanics, and same ideas from previously explored areas, making the puzzles repetitive. Additionally, there aren't very many options for what you can click on other than the items and objects pertaining to the puzzles themselves, boasting very low levels of variety to spice up the gameplay along with no reason to ever touch the game again after completing it. The repetition and emptiness of Armikrog left such bland taste in my mouth, I might as well have not eaten anything at all.
There are segments I liked, but not in the sense where I enjoy whatever it is that I'm doing. The game is played with the main character, Tommynaught, and his dog Beak-Beak. Interestingly, you can control both of the characters in order to solve different puzzles, making you look a bit harder to figure things out. At least this is theoretically how it should work, but I found the advent of being able to switch between the characters purely a mere gimmick rather than adding any additional challenge. Some buttons are lower on the wall, some areas are small holes, and that's pretty much it for Beak-Beak, other than one other thing used toward the end of the game. Whenever you enter a different area as your trusty companion, you can't see anything in color, and instead you click on the very obvious glowing objects and then head back to Tommynaught. Again, this brings no challenge to the table, and I could argue that the Beak-Beak segments are the easiest parts in the entire game. The story, aside from feeling lazy, is a decent piece of writing. Unfortunately for most though, a majority of the interesting story elements are implemented as optional text in one area of the game. The game starts out as a promising story about space exploration, but it lacks many key points and fails to immerse you in the world that was created. The rest of the cutscenes were nonsensical or purposeless, and the plot devices are generally generic and boring, not adding much depth to the game. I enjoyed the main cast and their quirky sense of humor, but not enough was done with them to be fully appreciated. That could be said for the entire game, actually. Armikrog feels very much like an unfinished waste of potential that could have been something beautiful. A butterfly that never left its cocoon, so to speak.
Delving into the positive side of things, the visuals are fantastic. Every character, every background piece, and every piece of the world around you is beautifully crafted with exquisite detail. The cutscenes can be a bit grainy at times, but the beautiful claymation style works very well with the atmosphere and mood that is generally associated with its genre and pedigree. The music fits very well into this category as well, making it feel very zany and surreal. There is overall nothing to complain about as far as the art design goes. Tommynaught is a very memorable looking character, even if his adventure will most likely be forgotten. All of the different creatures throughout the game have very unique and detailed design as well, and I could say I was rather impressed with some of them. Unfortunately though, Armikrog is rather bare in gameplay and doesn't have much to offer outside of art and music.
I do love the direction that the developers were going for, but without an entertaining storyline and exciting gameplay, there isn't much of a reason to pick up the game at all. Truly, Armikrog would have been much better off as a kids television show rather than a point-and-click adventure. The characters are very detailed and well designed with a unique sense of humor, and that really makes the characters shine, but other than that, the game is dreadfully boring and annoying, not to mention that every puzzle you do is a chore you already did just a few minutes ago. In the end, the game just doesn't hold up to the standards that Doug TenNapel set for himself and even fails to be a good game all on its own. As good as the art and music is, there isn't anything that can save a game like this from being any more than mediocre; it's just not a good game.
Most of my time is dedicated to tearing apart games and movies, then telling you what I think about it. I've been a gamer since birth, practically born with a controller in my hand. I've always spoke my mind, so critique was a natural fit. Twitter: @Jsrf38