Conarium
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 8

Even if you don’t know your shoggoths from your Mi-go there is a lot to like about this Lovecraftian horror title by Zoetrope Interactive. They are no strangers to the genre and are clearly huge fans of H. P. Lovecraft, which is very evident in this game. The slower place and lack of combat might scare away some horror fans, but the attention to detail and the way that the game perfectly captures the atmosphere of Lovecraft’s work makes it a must play for fans. It might lack a little polish in some areas and it is over all too soon, but it is still a remarkable effort by a small indie team and one that deserves to be played.

Gameplay: Plenty of exploration and puzzle solving in environments that perfectly capture the style of H. P Lovecraft.

Graphics: Your surroundings are detailed and quite atmospheric.

Sound: The voice acting could have been better, but the rest of the audio is very good

Summary 8.3 Outstanding
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Conarium

Developer: Zoetrope Interactive | Publisher: Iceberg Interactive | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Fans of H. P. Lovecraft should be very familiar with his novella, At the Mountains of Madness. Although it was published in the 1930’s, this chilling tale of an expedition to the Antarctic continent by a group of scholars is still a chilling part of the Cthulhu Mythos. It is clear that indie developer, Zoetrope Interactive, are big fans of Lovecraft and his work as Conarium was inspired by his novella. However, it takes place after the original story and focuses on a character named Frank Gilman. The game opens with Frank waking up at an Antarctic base only to find the whole place deserted. As Frank is suffering from some form of amnesia, players must help him explore his surroundings and uncover what really took place as well as what happened to everyone else. Of course, as is fitting for a Lovecraftian game, the answers Frank finds might just cost him his sanity.

Conarium is a first person title that is powered by the Unreal Engine 4. Although it was created by a small indie team, you wouldn’t have guessed it by looking at the impressive visuals. There are a couple of rough spots when scrutinizing everything up close, but the overall look of the game is very good. It is also very true to the source material, so fans of Lovecraft will have a blast exploring the gameworld and uncovering all its secrets. While your adventure starts in the creep corridors of the Antarctic base, it soon progresses to an ancient city. To make things even more interesting, Frank also experiences frequents dreams and visions, which takes him to other locations and will leave you questioning his sanity.

Lovecraft was a big fan of psychological horror and this is captured very nicely in Conarium. While you do occasionally encounter monsters, and can get killed, most of the game focuses on exploration and puzzle solving. Conarium doesn’t resort to cheap jump-scares to keep you unnerved either, but manages to keep you on edge nonetheless. This is thanks mostly to your oppressive and spooky surroundings, along with the visions that Frank sometimes experiences. Lovecraft fans and those familiar with his Cthulhu Mythos will definitely get the most out of this game, but thankfully it also does a great job drawing in players who are new to this setting. This is accomplished with notes and journals that Frank can find while exploring. In addition to being very interesting to read, these notes are also worth tracking down as they contribute to your “completion rating” along with trophy items and secret areas you discover. The result is a game that really captures the atmosphere of the books and it doesn’t just feel like a horror title with some Lovecraftian elements sprinkled in.

While the visuals are outstanding for the most part, the audio is a bit more uneven. We quite enjoyed the music, which is pretty low-key, but helps to build the tension. Sound effects are also quite good and exploring your dim surroundings is a little bit more tense when you hear all kinds of strange noises in the distance. Of course, like all good games in this genre, the audio is best experienced with a decent pair of headphones to fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the voice acting, things are a little less convincing. While the actors appear to be doing their best delivering their lines in an appropriate manner for the 1930’s setting of the game, they rarely sound very natural. This does detract a little bit from the experience, but thankfully it is something that you can get used to.

The focus of Conarium is very much on exploration and puzzle solving, but this doesn’t mean that you have free reign to go wherever you want. The areas that you explore are rather large, but for the most part your path through them remains linear. There is a little backtracking here and there to find the correct keys or items to proceed, but when you get stuck the solution is often nearby. The puzzles in Conarium are also quite varied and in addition to finding keys or levers to unlock new areas you’ll also have to figure out some strange devices. The game also features a couple of chase sequences to add a little action to all the wandering about and at one point you even get to operate a submarine. It is best to take your time and thoroughly explore everything on your first playthrough as Conarium doesn’t have a lot of replay value. It can also be completed in under five hours, so anyone rushing through it would be doing themselves a disservice. The game does feature two different endings, but these are based on a single choice in the final chapter and not on your actions throughout the game. Thankfully, the game not only autosaves frequently, but you can also manually save at any time.

Anyone who is a fan of Lovecraft will definitely get a kick out of Conarium as it is one of the few games claiming to be inspired by the author’s work that actually gets it right. Players who are not fans of Lovecraft will probably not enjoy the experience as much since it is steeped so much in his mythos. However, it is also a great psychological horror in general as it doesn’t rely on jump-scares and gore to get its point across. Obviously it would be impossible to perfectly capture the fear and madness so prevalent in Lovecraft’s books using a visual medium like gaming, but Zoetrope Interactive has done a great job nonetheless.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-4160 @ 3.60GHz
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 480/570/670, ATI Radeon HD 5870/5850
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 8 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Using an AMD Crossfire setup might result in performance issues. 4:3 Resolutions are not supported
  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit and above
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4690K @3.50GHz or AMD FX-9370
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 960 or AMD Radeon R7 370
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 8 GB available space

Related posts

Endless Fables: The Minotaur’s Curse

Endless Fables: The Minotaur's Curse

Play as a descendant of Ariadne and prevent the return of the Minotaur in this hidden object puzzle adventure from Sunward Games. The Greek mythology storyline offers a perfect excuse for visiting some exotic locations and while the game is quite easy, it still offers plenty of entertainment. It shares a lot of similarities with the Secret Order series from the same developer, but overall it still has plenty to offer fans. As long as you don’t expect anything groundbreaking from this title, it will provide you with a couple of hours of relaxing entertainment. Gameplay: A solid, Greek mythology themed hidden object puzzle adventure. Graphics: Varied locations featuring detailed visuals. Sound: Good, but not great.

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is based on the popular anime series of the same name, but this engrossing visual novel isn’t afraid to carve out its own path. It features a very memorable setting, interesting characters and plenty of content to explore. The story is a little darker than most visual novels on Steam, which is a good thing and familiarity with the anime series isn’t required to enjoy this title. Any fans of the genre looking for something that will keep them busy for a while should definitely add PSYCHO-PASS to their collection. Gameplay: Features an engrossing storyline, two protagonists, a branching storyline and plenty of different endings. Graphics: Great character designs and backgrounds, but not much in the way of animations. Sound: Full voice acting for all the characters and some nice background music too.

Borderlands

Borderlands

Borderlands is a unique first person shooter with some nifty RPG elements making it very action packed and addictive to play. For the best results the game should be played in co-op as the story is rather thin and the game has a very MMO feel to it. The unique art style and abundance of weapons makes this game a great time waster. Gameplay: Thin on story but lots of action and loot hunting. Graphics: The visual style sets it apart from other first person shooters. Sound: A good soundtrack and decent voice acting.

Dusk Diver 酉閃町

Dusk Diver 酉閃町

Take control of an ordinary girl who gains extraordinary powers and the ability to step through rifts in reality to battle vicious "Chaos Beasts." Dusk Diver features the vibrant real-world setting of Ximending as well as it's shadowy fictional counterpart Youshanding for players to explore. It's a "Musou" style beat 'em up, so expect plenty of punching and kicking, but there's also some downtime between missions for exploring Ximending, eating food and performing side quests. Despite some flaws, Dusk Diver is a very compelling game and definitely something for fans of the genre. Gameplay: Combat can become repetitive, but overall the game is fun to play. Graphics: The vibrant anime art style and unique setting for the game are both great. Sound: Decent music and full Japanese as well as Mandarin voice acting.

The Nightmare Cooperative

The Nightmare Cooperative

A sixteen level rogue-like with small, screen sized levels might not sound like much, but The Nightmare Cooperative might just surprise you. There is a large selection of characters and controlling them all at the same time is certainly a unique, not to mention challenging experience. Learning how to play the game is a breeze, but truly mastering it will keep you busy for quite some time. Gameplay: Simple to play, but requires more strategy than you might think. Graphics: The vector art style is very distinctive. Sound: The tunes are not exactly catchy, but very fitting.

Cloudbuilt

Cloudbuilt

Cloudbuilt is one of those games that will cause you to rage quit quite a few times until you wrap your head around the mechanics. Traversing the levels takes a lot of skill and the game doesn't hold your hand. Check-points are sparse and enemies are fierce so make sure you are up to the challenge before taking on this game. The beautiful art style and catchy soundtrack are highlights but the controls take time to master. Gameplay: Very fast and very challenging. Graphics: Beautiful cel-shaded visuals with a unique cross-hatch effect. Sound: A great soundtrack that matches the frantic pace of the game.

Leave a comment

7 + three =