The Primrose Path

by Nolan Bonvouloir

Science Fiction
2006

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Number of Reviews: 5
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Time-twisters, brain-teasers and eyeball kicks, September 28, 2009
by Ron Newcomb (Seattle)

Puzzles that use the fantasy tropes of time travel and teleportation are nearly as common as games set in one's apartment, and any game that blends the two is just begging to be painted as a train-wreck of clichés. So I believe it's something of a small miracle that The Primrose Path is both well-written and quite engrossing, despite all these brain-breaking puzzles. We play the role of Matilda, a nevermind-how-old-I-am woman who is woken up at the crack of dawn by her rather frantic next-door neighbor, Leo. Leo's a painter, and seems to have gotten himself shot this morning. He needs Matilda's help to fix a few things in his life, such as its ending. Matilda, like any other sensible woman in her nightie, immediately embarks on an adventure through their duplex.

Primrose is a difficult game. Were it not for the collective mind-bending powers of the members of ClubFloyd, I certainly would never have finished it. Partly this was due to an under-clued bit: it will help to know that Matilda takes a bit of convincing to see or do what she is reluctant to, so player be prepared to argue a little with your own PC. On the other partly, this is due to it being a puzzle-laden work at heart.

Rest assured, there's no Soup Cans in this one. Nor any lazy writing. The locales and props and even world-states lend themselves well to imagery, and the characters, while not exactly three-dimensional in the conventional fiction sense, sustain belief primarily through action: they will move between locations, and will even move to foil the player should they need to.

The author's attention to detail continues through to the end of the work. The final puzzle or puzzles, depending on how you define your boundaries, decide how the story ends. There are at least eight endings that I know of, all of which say that somebody or something has won even if it be the antagonist. This is a refreshingly positive spin on sub-optimal endings and is much appreciated. Add to that that none of the endings felt contrived or tacked on for the sake of merely having them. Programming bugs aside, if you get an ending you don't like, chances are you know you deserved it. Completionists will appreciate the final AMUSING command, which hints at the many easter eggs and subplots tucked into the game's nooks and crannies.

The Primrose Path is a fine example of how a difficult game can be worth several hours of investment. Just bring a friend or twelve.