PAX East 2023: Primal Omen Preview

Published: March 29, 2023 12:30 PM /


primal omen eliza taking in the tropical jungle vista view

Who doesn’t love Jurassic Park? I remember watching the original movie back when it came out in 1997 and being absolutely terrified out of my mind as a small child. With the re-emergence of the franchise due to the recent Jurassic World trilogy, dinosaur-mania has been all the rage across a variety of mediums lately, and video games are no exception. Considering the genre then, it’s really no surprise that developer Sean Herron’s new game, Primal Omen, dives straight into the spirit of the original movie with a survival- and horror-heavy bent to it. I recently had the opportunity to play the demo of Primal Omen at PAX East and see how well I’d fare against the giant lizards myself.

The demo, which lasted about 15 minutes, followed main character Eliza on her quest to get to a nearby safe facility and to outlast the dinosaurs in the wild who are ready to jump at a moment’s notice. With a look that seems to be inspired by Lara Croft, we guide Eliza’s journey from a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective, as she explores some of the uncharted wilderness of the island and the mysterious facility.


The setting definitely contains some interesting questions, particularly the facility, as neither the player nor Eliza are completely sure of what happened. Considering the gates and security measures that we have to get around to enter the place, you’d think the dinosaurs would have had a tougher time breaching the perimeter, which brings up the question of just how did they?

primal omen eliza with a gun getting ready to be fighting a dinosaur

The island itself is a gorgeous and lush tropical paradise, mildly spoiled by the bloody and dismembered remains of your associates and the facility’s unfortunate employees. The scenery is just gorgeous and hands down one of my favorite things when I was playing the game. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual survival-horror games that seem to take place exclusively in doom, gloom, and dark basements (looking at you, Resident Evil).

Unfortunately, the animation and character models are a little on the janky side, and it’s hard to know if that was done on purpose or not. The animation is stiff, and Eliza's legs weirdly move independently of her butt, as is super obvious when she crouches down. The textures sometimes stretch weirdly over the character model and her face doesn't move when she speaks. If it’s a throwback to the '90s era of Jurassic Park and original Resident Evil style, it fits perfectly. And, if it’s not, the game still has time to iron it out, so I’m not too worried.

The highlight of the demo for me was the kitchen scene. In a beautiful homage to the kitchen scene from the original Jurassic Park, Eliza heads into the facility’s kitchen to retrieve a keycard from a dead security guard so she can open up a gate and head further in to get what she needs. Of course, this doesn’t go at all according to plan and she has to barricade out one dinosaur whilst another drops through the ceiling. It’s a tense moment, and you need to shoot the dinosaur while hiding behind the food prep islands in the room, which is easier said than done. If the rest of the game follows the tone and urgency of this scene, it’ll be in a really good place.

The combat itself does feel a little rough around the edges, unfortunately. There isn't a visible health bar, which makes it difficult to see just how badly you're injured, and the aiming controls for the guns aren't great - tracking didn't feel as smooth as it should. In terms of fighting a dinosaur, it didn't feel like I was actually doing much damage with a handgun, which was unfortunately realistic.

While Primal Omen has some definite rough edges, especially with the graphics, it was still a fun experience. The change-up in setting for survival horror, as well as the fact that it proudly wears its influences on its sleeve bode well for it, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the game plays in the future with a bit more polish.


Primal Omen was previewed on an early build at PAX East 2023.

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