I was completely ready to love Armikrog. When I first laid eyes upon screenshots of the game I saw a charming and unique art style and character designs bursting with personality – it looked like I’d be able to play a TV show from my childhood. It looked good and sounded well, what could possibly go wrong?

What indeed.

Armikrog is a point and click adventure game from the creators of beloved games from our childhood such as Earthworm Jim and Neverhood. It tells the story of Tommynaut, who find himself trapped in a strange fortress called Armikrog after crashlanding on a strange planet with his dog ‘Beak-Beak’. Together they must unravel the strange logic of the alien puzzles keeping them imprisoned and hopefully escape.

The game’s puzzles are often unusual in design, and suit the alien environment well. The strangeness of the obstacles in front of you also set the tone of the humour – which is enhanced by the impressive Claymation aesthetic. In addition to simple pointing and clicking, players can also separate Tommynaut and Beak-Beak to solve spatial puzzles – such as sending Beak-Beak through a narrow tunnel to unlock a door from the other side.

I have now said everything positive I have to say about Armikrog.

Many of the puzzles require the physical manipulation of objects to shift movable elements across space (think turning dials to match up symbols in a code). Many of these unnecessarily ask for precision movements from the player.  This is made infuriating by many the layers of abstraction between the player and the desired outcome. The translations between the inputs and actions are translated so poorly that they counteract any care the player is taking. It’s like the difference between parallel parking whilst behind the wheel and trying to achieve the same task by giving verbal instructions to a drunk teenager.

So it’s frustrating. And doubly so, when the game didn’t really need to demand this precision. They don’t benefit the puzzles in the slightest and they certainly don’t make sense to include in a game designed for one button. The only thing it really seems to benefit is the games aesthetic, which evokes stop-motion animation. It’s reasonable to assume the best way to ruin a stop-motion animation is to break the fluidity with more precise ‘stop start’ movement in some places, and I can only assume this is why the puzzles handle in this fashion.

No matter the excuses, there’s no getting around the fact that this is the angriest a video game has made me in years. I play the Dark Souls games. I play Mario Kart. I don’t normally get angry – despite the reputation for frustration these other games hold. But this, a more passive style of game, made me too furious to continue playing. It’s a 4 hour game – I stopped after one.

I wanted to love Armikrog. I was prepared to see it all the way through to the conclusion. But no matter how intriguing and charming the presentation is, there’s no escaping the fact that, on the inside, Armikrog is dead and rotting. Life is far too short to do things that make you this angry.

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Select Start Media was provided with a review copy of Armikrog for Xbox One.

About The Author

Angus is a writer, a worrier, and a digital media wanker. He is a devoted fan of Dark Souls and Bayonetta with a profound weakness for alt-games, visual novels, and cute anime trash. Firmly supports diversity, video game accessibility, and believes there’s a game out there for everyone. Tweets and shitposts @angusuow.