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

Riptide GP2

Riptide GP2

Riptide GP2 has the feel of an old school arcade racer and it is easy to get sucked into the experience. The game features some good looking tracks and plenty of awesome stunts. Although originally a mobile title, the developers went the extra mile to make it look good on PC and have also removed all micro-transactions. It is quite an addictive title, but suffers a bit from repetition in the later stages of the game. Gameplay: Challenging and addictive, although it does become a bit of a grind. Graphics: Quite impressive considering the mobile roots of the game. Sound: The soundtrack fits the game, but might not be to everyone's taste.

fault milestone one

fault milestone one

Thanks to its great setting and characters, fault milestone one is a very enjoyable and gripping kinetic novel. The story is pretty self-contained, but it does dedicate a lot of time to explaining the unique concepts of the science fantasy world the characters inhabit. The game also features quite a mature storyline, but without resorting to nudity or fanservice which is quite refreshing. If you enjoy kinetic novels with interesting characters and deep storylines you will enjoy fault milestone one. Gameplay: There is only a single choice in the game, but the gripping storyline will keep you interested. Graphics: Great character art although the backgrounds are a little limited. Sound: The game doesn’t feature any speech, but has a really good soundtrack and sound effects.

The Yawhg

The Yawhg

I was surprised at how short a single playthrough of The Yawgh is but with more than 50 endings you'll definitely want to complete it more than once. The randomly generated story has a surprising amount of depth and the gorgeous artwork by Emily Carol is a definite plus. The Yawgh is best enjoyed with a group of other players so if you are a solo player the experience is just not the same. Gameplay: Short and simple but with tons of replay value. Graphics: Emily Carrol provides her signature artwork for the game. Sound: A moody soundtrack that adds to the ominous vibe of the game.

A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build

A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build

A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build is a thoroughly entertaining and very charming puzzle title that is suitable for players of all ages. The beautiful 2D visuals and excellent audio complements the addictive puzzle solving gameplay, which makes for a memorable experience. I would have liked to see a few more puzzles to solve, because the ones on offer are so enjoyable. This is the perfect game for when you feel like something relaxing and non-violent. Gameplay: The game is challenging and addictive without being frustrating or unfair. Graphics: Charming visuals with plenty of great touches. Sound: The soundtrack is great as are the ambient sound effects.

Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure

Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure

It might be just as short as the lifespan of a real mayfly, but Ephemerid definitely lives up to its claims of being a musical adventure. The handcrafted visuals are charming and the soundtrack is something that you will want to listen to again and again. Don’t let its length and the fact that it was originally an iOS title deter you from experiencing this captivating title. Gameplay: Not very challenging, but it will put a smile on your face and is very relaxing. Graphics: Beautiful handcrafted visuals and plenty of unique scenes. Sound: The soundtrack is filled with some exceptionally good tunes.

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty

Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty

Abe is back in a game that goes above and beyond the typical “high definition” upgrade other classic titles have received. The game stays true to Abe’s Oddysee, on which it is based, but enhances and improves on the original formula in virtually every area. The result is a game that not only looks great, but plays great as well. It is also a game that will appeal to fans of the original as well as new players. Gameplay: Easier than the original, but still as unique and addictive. Graphics: The new visuals look incredible and enhances the atmosphere of the game. Sound: A new (but still fitting) voice for Abe and plenty of great tunes as well as sound effects.

Leave a comment

5 × 2 =