Far Cry Primal
A typical Far Cry game is one where a seemingly average guy is plopped down somewhere in a vast, open land ruled by bloodthirsty warlords of one stripe or another. He then proceeds to gather weapons and every other tool of destruction he can lay his hands on so as to claim and free the land piece by piece. Oh, and eviscerate those baddies and their minions in as many explosive and gory ways as possible.
The formula stays fairly intact for Far Cry Primal. But the setting couldn't be more different.
Not Even Close to the Croods
This game hits the way-back button and puts us in the first-person skin of a prehistoric hunter named Takkar. He's a member of a scattered tribe of upright-walking people, called the Wenga, who live in the lush and verdant land of Oros.
For all of its raw and natural beauty, the Wenga's world isn't exactly idyllic, however, since they're pressed on all sides and regularly sent limping for cover by the more rabid and hunched inhabitants of the area. The cannibalistic Udam are one of the bigger Cro-Magnon-like threats¬—a group that would rather tear out your throat with their teeth than grunt out a greeting.
At first, what you and Takkar are supposed to do in this beautiful but dangerous place isn't quite clear. The terrain is vast and open. Mammoths sip from gurgling streams and saber-toothed tigers growl from flinty cliffs. So for the initial several hours of play, you might just believe that the gamemakers created a rather interesting and realistic survival-and-crafting game: an edgier Minecraft-like challenge to find shelter and hunt animals for food while concocting clubs, bows and tools from the remains.
Alas, that isn't quite the case.
As you stumble upon various nonlinear quests it becomes clear that your real job is to improve your weapons and skills, travel the land and re-gather the Wenga people. Oh, yes, while also eviscerating all the baddies in as many gory and painful ways as possible. In this case, however, missile launchers and sniper rifles are replaced by spears, bows and arrows, and stone knives.
The Mess Inside (and Outside) the Cave
Foul language isn't an issue this go-round since, I guess, the caveman tongue hadn't yet wandered in profane directions. But nearly every other area of M-rated video game messiness is explored.
In general, this is a game about restitution. And caveman comeuppance requires a whole lot of brain-splattering clubbings. Villages are reduced to cinders. Flesh is ripped, burned, slashed and bashed. Skulls are crushed. Blood flows freely. One ally even asks you to drill a hole into his forehead to relieve his "skull fires," which, of course, you proceed to do with some blunt-force implement.
You also witness animal and human sacrifices. You partner with a woman who collects the ears of her victims to "quiet the screams" of her own fallen people. And beyond the spiritual misguidance about man's evolutionary beginnings, you guzzle down bowls of a shaman's bloody mixtures to receive otherworldly visions as guidance.
In your travels you encounter a number of grunting sex acts, too, as fur-covered caveguys and partially naked cavegals go at it with realistic movements (that the camera observes from multiple angles). One female tribe leader sports no covering at all on top other than some splashes of blue dye. Oh, and you get urinated on after falling into a captor's trap. So let's just say that the list of nasty and grimy interactions flows on from there.
There is indeed something very different about this fifth main-series Far Cry game. It holds a heretofore unexplored perspective and delivers a hint of an interesting idea that might have been. But this is still solidly a franchise game, living in its own primal world that's most likely pretty far away from your own.