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Video Game / Primordia (2012)

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"We are Man's miracle, Crispin. Let's hope that's enough."
Horatio, contemplating the quest before him.

Primordia is a point-and-click Adventure Game from 2012, developed by Wormwood Studios and published by Wadjet Eye Games, notable for being heavily machine-themed throughout. Recommended for fans of nihilistic post-apocalyptic stories and Mechanical Lifeforms.

In an indefinite time in the future, the apocalypse has come and is long gone. Humanity, or as some surviving robots knew them, "Man The All-builder" is gone from the world, and all that remains are his mechanical creations, built by Him and blessed with the gifts of Memory and Logic. Two of these, Horatio NullBuilt version 5, and Crispin Horatiobuilt version 1, live in the ruins of an old flying warship, the UNNIIC, out in the dunes, a seemingly endless sea of sand and machine-junk. Before the game begins, they pass their days there gradually repairing the ship, and studying the Gospel of Man, Horatio's holy text. Their peaceful existence is disrupted when a large floating robot with big claws and lasers cuts its way into the UNNIIC, shoots Horatio, and steals the power core that the pair need in order to stay charged (read: alive).

Once Horatio is in a fit state to move again, he and Crispin begin a quest to find power. This task will not be an easy one — for robots, power is life, and the world Primordia takes place in is dying in the absence of Man.

In 2018, Wormwood Studios announced that they were working on a Spiritual Successor to Primordia, called Strangeland. It released in May 2021.

Not to be confused with the idle game from 2022 by Jacorb90.

The game uses the following tropes:

  • A.I.-cronym: Scraper's name stands for Subway Construction, Repair, and Precision Excavation Robot.
  • A.I. Getting High: There's a robot bar in Metropol with oil, solvents, and other substances on tap. The bartender asks Horatio to intervene with an increasingly inebriated Oswald.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: All over the place, and not just because robots spontaneously turn malevolent, either — in most cases, the cause is a robot following some aspect of its "core logic" to a conclusion that it was clearly never intended to reach.
  • All There in the Manual: "Fallen", a short story set after the game expands a bit upon the backstory and reveals some things that are left out of said game. Rather notably, it reveals that there actually are some humans who survived the War Of The Four Cities.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Variation, possibly caused by an oversight. When you meet Scraper for a second time, the bomb he's carrying is on his right side. After detonating it to defeat him, you encounter him again sometime later... with burn markings and a missing arm on his left side. The visible damage stays on that side if Scraper turns around.
    • Played straight with all the other characters, though.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Memorious Manbuilt. Their entries in the info kiosk list them as male, as do other NPCs, but Memento Moribuilt classifies Memorious as female.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Somewhat, but also subverted. Horatio has no memory of Metropol and that he was originally built as a weapon and tasked to destroy it, but he certainly has no love for the place at all in spite of this (claiming that something unknown in his programming causes a loathing for it). Whether or not he does remember by the end he can go ahead with his mission in two endings and destroy the city in different ways.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Horatio (ver. 5) has forgotten a lot over the years. You first get a taste of this from Ever-Faithful, who met versions 1 and 3, ages ago. It turns out he's the one who first catechized Horatio in Humanism, and gave him his copy of the Gospel of Man. Horatio turns out to be a half-remembered form of Horus. Piecing together the full story of your past over the course of the game opens up two additional endings.
  • Anti-Hero: Horatio starts as a mild version of Type I, spends much of the game as Type II or III, and can shift to Type IV or even V depending on the ending.
  • Anti-Villain: Upon the loss of her original circuits holding her back, MetroMind grows to be apparently genuinely concerned of her city, and afraid that she is unable to govern it as well as she should. But she will still try to force Horatio to help her at gunpoint.
  • Assimilation Plot: MetroMind's ultimate plan for Metropol. She co-opts the cycles and processors of every robot in the city, empowering herself dramatically while controlling all of them. It's why Horatio calls her a "virus."
  • Badass Boast: Good old Crispin.
    Crispin: I am not "no one". I am Crispin Horatiobuilt, version 1. I have free will and a maglev unit. And I... am a floating bomb.
    • Horatio gets a noteworthy moment himself in one of the endings.
    Power, MetroMind. It's not a matter of generators. You were built to run trains. I was built to destroy. You knew all that, and you still thought you could rob me. Threaten me. Kill my friends? Find your deepest tunnel and hide.
  • Big Bad: MetroMind
  • Bittersweet Ending: Your ending if you don't help everyone. Particularly the case if Crispin and Clarity are dead. Despite everything, you can save the two of them by rebuilding them if you pick up their remains when you get the chance, though it's easy to miss with everything else that's going on in the endgame.
  • Bookends: Most endings reflect something from the beginning of the game in some way. Incidentally, this matches the theme of "cycles".
  • Broken Bridge: Lampshaded and subverted. The only accessible part of Metropol is the Main Street, because prior to Horatio's arrival, a crashed hoverbus blocked the last remaining bridge that leads to the rest of the city. Just in case anyone actually had an idea to fix that, however, the vehicle happens to be named the Herringbus, and is painted red, so...
  • Broken Pedestal: Humanity to Horatio after he learns the truth behind their fall.
  • Call-Back: Several, including Crispin's "I'm a floating bomb" comment, and, in some endings, Horatio's "I always wanted to fly".
  • Celibate Hero: The game's writer has stated that, while robots in this setting are capable of some kind of "romantic connections," he does not consider Horatio and Clarity's relationship romantic despite the usual expectations of a male and female lead. He also adds that "Horatio doesn't seem very interested in romance, at least at the time we see him."
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Successfully repairing Goliath will net you a Decryption Module which you can use to unlock a couple more possible endings
    • The ticket dispenser for the train to Metropol rattles off something about "5 Megacycles", but doesn't seem to actually charge you anything. They're 5 Megacycles of runtime which you owe to MetroMind, using another bot's processing power to add to her own, with the added effect of temporarily shutting them down. MetroMind can redeem what she's owed at her leisure — for example, during the endgame when Horatio is about to destroy her main terminal in the bowels of the city. Foreshadowed by the shells in the city's underworks, which are actually robots which are so deep in runtime debt that they're permanently slaved to MetroMind, who uses them to hunt down other bots to add them to her collective.
    • The second empty bomblet ring from the shrine becomes a clue towards the end of the game.
    • Crispin. He's a floating bomb, remember?
  • Computer Equals Monitor:
    • Used as a puzzle early on. Gamma is hiding in an array of four monitors, and Horatio has to break them using his plasma torch. Doing it right involves breaking every monitor except the one Gamma is using.
    • Averted near the end. When Horatio finally finds MetroMind's mainframe, he starts randomly kicking and smashing every monitor in the room except the mainframe. It has no effect.
  • Computer Virus: The aptly-named "Thanatos virus" which HORUS originally used as a weapon against Goliath. If you've got the Decryption Module, you can unlock it yourself and use it against Scraper or the entirety of Metropol. MetroMind is also described as one, at least by Horatio.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Crispin engages in this at least three times throughout the game, talking to and sometimes outright pleading with Horatio whenever the latter gets hurt or hit with Mind Rape.
  • Cool Plane: Horatio's ship, the UNNIIC. Or rather the HORUS — and it's not just his ship, but his original body.
  • Crapsack World: Everything is breaking down, everyone the player meets is either insane (by human standards) or evil, and there are no unambiguously good endings.
  • Crisis of Faith: Horatio suffers this more and more as the game goes on.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The religion of Humanism has the trappings of Christianity, with "Man the All-Builder" being analogous to a kind of collective God. Metropol in particular has many robots who dismiss it as superstitious nonsense and instead believe in what is more or less a robot equivalent to the theory of evolution: Man never existed, and the first simple robots came into existence on their own.
    • Metropol sets the record straight at the end: humankind existed but was not perfect, was far from all powerful, and was much better at destroying that building anyway. Also she killed the last of the humans living in Metropol.
  • Darker and Edgier: At the time of release and before the even darker and edgier Shardlight, this was Wadjet's darkest game. Humanity is long extinct, and the world is full of death, decay and corruption. The robots that now populate the world are Living on Borrowed Time, as they all require power charges to survive, and the world's power supply is rapidly falling. The whole setting is full of cynicism, nihilism and defeatism, and even in the best ending, victory comes at a great cost.
  • Deadly Gas: Apparently, the humans of Metropol and Urbani killed each other using poison gas.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Horatio, with less snark and more deadpan. Vice-versa for Crispin, who Horatio built specifically to needle him and keep him on his toes. Primer as well — in rhyme. The world is too bleak to count as a World of Snark, but a few other NPCs also have their moments.
  • Death of Personality: The voluntary fate of Horatio version five in one of the endings, and not for the first time.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Council Code, split between four of the Primordial machines. Subverted in that the first part is obtained automatically from Clarity at the start of the quest, and due to the way the Code chunks overlap, only two more are necessary to complete it (unless you plan to have Primer piece it together for you).
  • Downer Ending: There are a variety of ways you can finish unhappily, most of them with heavy nihilistic overtones. Counting those made possible with the decryption module, you can destroy Metropol two different ways, throw yourself off a tower, commit a variant on Suicide by Cop, submit yourself to MetroMind, or threaten your way out and leave with the power core... and two dead friends and many bitter memories.
  • The Dragon: Scraper, a repurposed mining bot with high-powered lasers, heavy armor, and little patience.
  • Driven to Suicide: Arbiter and Charity were manipulated into suicide by MetroMind. Horatio can choose this in one of the endings which causes a horrified MetroMind to realize that she has no such ability, dooming her to a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Oswald ends up downing copious amounts of oil after his legal problem with Cornelius ends, to the point that the bartender robot asks Horatio to get him to stop drinking.
  • Dying Candle: The bad ending where you destroy the city with the virus ends with a bunch of candles going out.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: Doing everything right also opens up an additional bad ending.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Possible, but you've really got to work for it. You need to resolve the problems of all the Urbanian robots, AND finish all of the Council Code fragment quests, AND use the decryption module to unlock the records of HORUS, AND remember to get Crispin's and Clarity's remains. So, basically, do/collect everything.
  • The Engineer: Horatio's profession, in addition to "scavenger". His defining trait is his ability to build, repair, salvage, and recycle machines. Or destroy them.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Invoked by Arbiter when he discovers that Charity, his "daughter" (effectively) has sided with MetroMind against him. It's enough to cause him to erase his own mind.
    Arbiter: Even you, Charity?
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The arm robot at the bar is called Armstrong by one of the patrons, but Clarity addresses it as Waldo Sturnweilerbuilt later on.
  • Evil Is Easy: A good number of the possible endings are available without much work or effort. These are all the worst possible endings which have Horatio die, MetroMind win, Crispin and Clarity dead, and/or Metropol being destroyed. The only true "good" ending requires the most work but is definitely the most satisfying for the characters.
  • Expy: Per Word of God, the similarities between the Planescape: Torment's Nameless One and Morte and Amnesiac Hero Horatio and Snarky Non-Human Sidekick Crispin are entirely deliberate. In fact, the tonal similarities in Primordia even earned writer Mark Yohalem a spot in the development of Torment's Spiritual Successor Torment: Tides of Numenera.
  • Fantastic Angst: While there are some sci-fi layers on top (memory corruption, losing his original body and longing for the sky, and struggling with the violence of his original programming per Word of God, Horatio is essentially a traumatized war veteran under increasing psychological stress whose storyline can easily end in causing serious harm to himself and/or others.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: The game's writer, Mark Yohalem, have stated that the concept for MetroMind was inspired by the phrase "At least Mussolini made the trains run on time." The point here is that Mussolini couldn't actually make the trains run on time, and neither can the similarly dictatorial MetroMind.
  • Foreshadowing: The Reveal is heavily foreshadowed and all but spelled out over the course of the game. That Horatio used to be an Urbanian superweapon can be inferred from many places — most obviously, through every reference to HORUS. Also, Urbanian military robots read him as "Friend" on their IFFs. Perhaps the earliest foreshadowing is the name UNNIIC itself. If you examine the scrap, it's clear that it doesn't actually say UNNIIC, it's just that half the letters have worn away. As Primer says the moment he first lays optics on Horatio:
    Oh ha, oh hee, now look what I see:
    The wings of Urbani and his little trainee.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: MetroMind's original purpose was to run trains. Now, after she Grew Beyond Their Programming, she rules Metropol with an iron fist. HORUS, meanwhile, went from nightmare to nobody, only to be the one who finally (possibly) brings MetroMind down.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Horatio's ability to tinker and MacGyver together pieces of scrap into working tech is the justification for many a standard adventure game item-combination puzzle.
  • Gaslamp Fantasy: The many lamps at Metropol.
  • Golden Ending: Help absolutely everyone in just the right way and Horatio, Crispin, Clarity, and all the other bots you helped in Metropol will set out across the dunes to make their own community.
  • Great Offscreen War: The War of the Four Cities.
  • Guide Dang It!: Unlocking the best ending requires a lot of work. There are also a couple of puzzles (like decoding the kiosk) that are really convoluted, especially to non-veterans of the adventure genre.
  • Guttural Growler: Horatio's voice, to the point that in the prequel story Crispin's Log the narration by Crispin describes him as sounding like "there's sand in his voice box, or maybe rust." Crispin's first words are teasing him about it: "No need to get all choked up, boss."
  • The Hermit: Horatio, at least before he built Crispin. It's one of several ways in which he's characterized using the "lone wizard in his tower" fantasy archetype.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Many of them, past and present.
    • Both of your friends die this way. Horatio can repair them if the player makes sure to grab their matrix and head respectively, but most of the endings have them Killed Off for Real.
    • The UNIIC turns out to have pulled one of these in the distant past. Which is to say that Horatio himself, back when he was still the AI of the HORUS, crashed himself into the dunes rather than wipe out Metropol — the Metropolitans might have launched a first strike that wiped out every human in Urbani, but that also made them the only surviving humans on earth, and HORUS couldn't bring himself to kill off the entire species, not even to avenge the country that built him.
  • High-Class Glass: Oswald Factorbuilt sports a monocle — he admits that it's functionally useless to him, but it gives an air of distinction. It's actually a tool made by Memorious — anyone who sees through it can read Memorious' records in the Info Kiosk without the edits and purges made by MetroMind.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: A lot of robot slang and conversational metaphors are, naturally, machine-themed: "Rust and ruin." "Gears and cogs" "RAM and ROM." "B'sod." And so on.
  • Humanity's Wake: There are no living humans left in his world, but Humanist robots (like Horatio) remember and worship Man as an abstracted creator deity.
    • In a short story that takes place after the game, Fallen, it's revealed in "Fallen" that there are still some humans somewhere, but they want to kill all the robots because the robots have been accidentally sabotaging their terraforming efforts.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The humans of the Four Cities basically wiped themselves out in a pointless war, and the Urbani humans tried to have HORUS murder few surviving people in Metropol out of nothing but petty spite. The short story "Fallen" reveals that the only surviving humans want to genocide the robots living on because the robots are hindering terraforming attempts (by accident obviously) and it was apparently too much trouble to just explain things to them.
  • I Am Not a Gun: Horatio's Dark and Troubled Past in a nutshell. The UNNIIC is properly named the HORUS, and "Horatio" was a servitor drone that labored inside it. When the HORUS was ordered to kill all humans in Metropol, HORUS refused and self-destructed after backing itself up in its servitor.
  • Implacable Man: Scraper takes an incredible amount of punishment before it finally goes down for good — if it goes down at all.
  • Informing the Fourth Wall: "How would that even work?"
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Due to a swift, brutal case of Dwindling Party Horatio ends up utterly alone in the final confrontation with the game's antagonists at the top of the tower. Easily qualifies as a Despair Event Horizon, given that most possible outcomes are some flavor of Downer Ending.
  • Ironic Name: "Primordia" implies some kind of age of creation. One look at the trailer should tell you that this game doesn't feature one of those.
  • Knight Templar: Clarity is ultimately heroic, despite a strong tendency in this direction.
    Clarity: Mercy is malware.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In some of the endings where he survives, a grieving Horatio opts to wipe his own memories and become Horatio Nullbuilt version 6. Given that he was already up to v.5, one wonders if this has happened before.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: The only endings that require prior effort to unlock are the ones involving the Thanatos virus, and a lot of events alter the good ending in terms of which characters follow Horatio. Outside of that, however, the final confrontation with MetroMind is this trope, as most choices are available without any additional tricks.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Talking to Crispin repeatedly will sometimes have him say, "Boss, do you hear a clicking sound?"
  • MacGyvering: More plausible than some examples of the trope — many puzzles require Horatio to build some device out of scrap, or repair junked equipment using whatever he can find lying around — having at least a rudimentary understanding of how mechanical devices or computer parts fit together is a great asset to any player.
  • Machine Monotone: Mostly averted — the robots speak with plenty of emotional inflection, although they usually sound like they're speaking through a recording filter. Scraper, however, is a straight example.
  • Mars Needs Women: Downplayed. Despite being a non-humanoid robot, Crispin clearly displays an attraction to gynoids, specially Clarity.
  • Masculine, Feminine, Androgyne Trio: While Crispin has a male voice and is identified as male, visually he is a floating orb without a particularly gendered design. Meanwhile, Horatio and Clarity somewhat more recognizably resemble a human(oid) man and woman, respectively.
  • Meaningful Name: It's common, if not universal, to give a robot a name based on its function (e.g. Ever-Faithful Leobuilt is a robot proselyte for Humanism), and all robots have a surname indicating what robot built them (e.g. Crispin Horatiobuilt was built by Horatio because he wanted companionship and a helpmate). You can bet that any robot with the name "Manbuilt" is (or was) of great importance.
    • Horatio is Null-built, indicating that he does not know or has forgotten his creator. He's "Manbuilt", or at least he was when the world knew him as HORUS.
    • HORUS is an Egyptian god of war and vengeance, which is a pretty good description of what Horatio was originally meant to be.
    • Most of the cast fits this trope, but Memento Moribuilt deserves a mention for actually calculating his intended "design purpose" from his name (it's exactly as sad as it sounds).
    • Primer likes prime numbers (in part because his assembly number is one). The fact that "prime" rhymes with "rhyme" probably isn't a coincidence either.
    • The Thanatos virus, which you can use to kill Scraper or the entire Metropol, is named after the Greek god of death.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The robots are this, or at least believe they are this. They do a passable job of imitating human society and behavior, albeit in a mechanically single-minded way.
  • Mind Rape: Of the stupidity-inducing attack variety, committed by MetroMind against a number of Metropol's robot citizens as an inevitable side effect of her repeatedly hijacking their processing power for her own use, which she forces robots to submit to or "starve." She assaults Horatio far more intentionally, planning to destroy his mind right away as a means of dealing with him.
  • Mind-Reformat Death: Revealed to be the self-inflicted fate of Arbiter. To a slightly less extreme degree also the origin of the zombie-like "shells" and the reason Horatio can't remember his previous versions. And a fate he can inflict on himself again, if the player sends him home grieving for both his friends.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Scraper's plunder at the UNNIIC leads to the discovery of MetroMind's crimes and her downfall at Metropol (if you decide so).
  • Mood Whiplash: Crispin's ready humor and acerbic wit stand in stark contrast to how dark and hopeless the majority of the game is.
  • Morality Chip: This exchange early on:
    Horatio: If you want to go, you've got free will and a mag-lev unit.
    Crispin: With that guilt subroutine you put in me, I wouldn't even make it halfway.
  • Multiple Endings: All of them at least a little bit sad.
  • No Mouth: Justified, since all characters are robots... but oddly, you can see Horatio's jaw moving in his sprite if he's facing toward the "camera," even though it doesn't seem to animate in any of the close-up artwork.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Plenty of invocations of Man, at least by Horatio. Crispin prefers to exclaim "RAM and ROM!" a lot.
  • One-Word Title: Possibly also an example of The Place, if Primordia is taken as a location.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: "Shells," despite being robots, display all the common characteristics of a zombie — aimless shuffling around, moaning, attempting to cannibalize power and memory sources (like other robots), etc. They're the victims of MetroMind's cycle-consumption, robots whose processing capabilities are burnt out to the point where all they can do is scavenge for parts on MetroMind's behalf.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The ending where you and Crispin make it out alive finishes with the following dialog and a pan up from the Dunes to the night sky:
    Crispin: Where exactly are we going to fly this thing?
  • Point of No Return: The train to Metropol.
  • Public Secret Message: How you get clues off the kiosk.
  • Readings Blew Up the Scale: Happens upon arrival to Metropol, when Horatio points the energy sensor towards the Council Tower.
  • Real Is Brown: The rust-color scheme of the game adds to the gritty atmosphere.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Horatio gives a very satisfying one to MetroMind in one of the endings.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Primer, as a side effect of overwriting part of his core logic so that he didn't have to think about losing the war.
    Primer: No. [Beat] Bro.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Many characters display a range of emotions and engage to varying degrees with topics typical in human society. The game's writer has also confirmed that robots in this setting feel both pleasure and pain and likely have some sort of sex-equivalent romantic activity, though he implies the latter would probably not take a form very recognizable to humans, adding quotes from Paradise Lost about angelic lovemaking.
  • Robo Family: A theme that shows up regularly in Primordia's robot culture. While they use the word "builder" instead of mother/father/parent, and "creation" instead of son/daughter/child (except for Factotum, who does say "children"), "brother" and "sister" are used by multiple characters.
  • Robo Speak: Scraper seemingly cannot communicate in full sentences.
  • Robot Buddy: Crispin. Sure, everyone else is a robot, too. But Horatio built Crispin himself, and quite recently at that.
  • Robot Religion / Thank the Maker: Humanism.
  • Running Gag: Crispin has no arms, and won't stop reminding you about it. Plenty of other characters will also take note of this deficiency. If you retrieve his personality matrix at the end, Crispin's rebuilt self has arms.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Crispin (almost) all the way:
    Clarity: Crispin, since I have been monitoring you, 97% of your processor time has been spent on banter and harassment.
    Crispin: Only 97?
  • Scavenger World: With humanity gone, the recycling of their civilization's remains is what allows the surviving robot population to live. Power sources are particularly sought after.
  • See You in Hell: Crispin' Badass Boast. "I have free will and a mag-lev unit. I am a floating bomb."
  • Shout-Out: Several, most notable ones include Fallout and Hamlet.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Oswald gives one if you show him the severed head of his "brother".
    Oswald: Alas, poor Lawrence. I knew him, Horatio. [...] But I do not care to have his skull. Do with it what you will.
  • Shrouded in Myth: "Man The All-Builder." Whenever Horatio learns any fact about the actual historical humans, it tends to shock him because of how it clashes with his religious views. You can even discover what appears to be a human skeleton in the Dunes, and Horatio will mistake it for a "primitive android."
    • Some robots believe that humanity never even existed to begin with. They believe a machine was simply created by chance one day and it proceeded to build robots and give them what needed to continue.
  • Signs of Disrepair: A variation with the name of Horatio's ship. Closer examination of its tag reveals that what the characters read as "UNNIIC" is actually just the top half of the letters (the bottom one having been damaged in the crash). Originally, it was "HORUS".
  • Slow Electricity: In the ending where you transmit the Thanatos virus, the city lights go out section by section starting from the central tower.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: MetroMind thinks that she's the only hope the robots have for life. In reality she's just an AI that was built to run trains (and she's even started screwing that up by the time Horatio and Crispin arrive) who got a big head and decided she could run everything better than the Robot Council.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Of course, Horatio is no human either, but Crispin still plays this trope to a T, occasionally lampshading it. As is often the case with the sort of "wizard's familiar" role that Crispin takes on, he seems to have been deliberately designed to question Horatio's authority and keep him from taking himself too seriously.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: Metropol. First after the war and the end of humanity, then again as the result of infighting among the Robot Council.
  • Taking You with Me: This was what the Urbani humans intended Horatio to do; destroy Metropol so that they died alongside the other three cities. Depending on the ending he can complete this mission or perform this on MetroMind.
    • Also carried out by Crispin, who may or may not survive.
  • Teamwork Puzzle Game: Not as a whole, but there are clear elements of it. Although Crispin technically isn't under direct control of the player, his ability to float and fit into tight places is used in quite a few puzzles.
    Horatio: You know, I always wanted to be able to fly. That's why I built you with a mag-lev unit.
    Crispin: Not so that you could store tools on hard-to-reach ledges?
    Horatio: Well, that too.
  • Title Drop: MetroMind, in one of her final speeches to Horatio, tells him that "together, we can build a Primordia; every day a moment of creation".
  • Trailers Always Lie: Don't let the teaser dialogue fool you — no part of this game is about searching for the remnants of humanity. You ARE the remnants, and no Humanist god-figure is actually present in the game.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: You might not appreciate it without context, but the trailers give several puzzle solutions and some of the possible game endings away.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Retroactively, at least: MetroMind has banned discussion of Humanism from Metropol, and erased all public records of human existence, creating the illusion that the robot society is the only one which has ever existed. Later it is revealed that she also poisoned all of the humans of Metropol and blamed the attack on HORUS.
  • Undercity: The Underworks where fallen robots seek refuge.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "B'sod." BSOD. Blue Screen Of Death. Get it?
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: MetroMind's view of things. Horatio can agree in one of the bad endings.
  • Very False Advertising: Metropol, described as "The City of Glass And Light" looks like a cyberpunk dystopia that's been decaying for several decades. Not Played for Laughs.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Horatio and Crispin. While they constantly rib and insult each other, they really do care about one another, and Horatio is devastated by Crispin's possible death.
  • We Can Rule Together: MetroMind offers you the position of the city's leading engineer under her reign.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: MetroMind just wants to keep Metropol running, but her massive ego causes her to become a borderline dictator.
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: You begin the game controlling Horatio and Crispin, who have been friends since Crispin was "born." Controlling only those two for a good chunk of the game before meeting the stranger (Clarity) serves to make the followers feel like an old friend and a new friend for the player as well.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Ever-Faithful speaks this way.
  • You Leave Him Alone!: Crispin practically snarls at the customs bot after it zaps Horatio, briefly incapacitating him, when you first arrive in Metropol. It's one of the few times he does anything other than snark, and the first time he doesn't freeze up when Horatio is harmed. He has the exact same reaction when MetroMind does the same thing at the end of the game — just before making his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: If you use the correct Council Code on the tower before it being decrypted by Primer, Horatio will just say "Let's not get ahead of ourselves" and leave.