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

Fury Unleashed

Fury Unleashed

Fury Unleashed doesn't do anything radically different for a platform shooter, but the rogue-lite elements and combo heavy gameplay makes it a blast to play. It's also very addictive and offers a lot more replay value than typical 2D platform shooters. We would have liked to see more variety when it came to the environments, but the impressive amount of bosses and enemies make up for this. All in all, this is a great game that shouldn't be missed if you are a fan of the genre. Gameplay: Fast-paced and very addictive. Graphics: The comic book art style looks great. Sound: The music and soundtrack are awesome.

Graze Counter

Graze Counter

Hop into the cockpit of your fighter and take down a virtual network that has evolved a little too much for its own good in this shoot ‘em up from Bikkuri Software. It offers non-stop action and a bullet grazing mechanic that forces you to risk life and limb to boost your score while unleashing devastating attacks. The 16-bit style of the visuals and audio offers a nice blast from the past for fans of the genre, but even newcomers can ease into the action thanks to a practice mode and selectable difficulty settings. The game is a little short for our liking and the style might not appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy a good shoot ‘em up you can do far worse than this one. Gameplay: Being forced to skirt dangerously close to bullets instead of simply avoiding them makes for a frantic experience. Graphics: The 16-bit visual style is charming, but might not appeal to those who didn’t grow up with the genre. Sound: The soundtrack is good, but the sound effects lack a little punch.

Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning

Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning

With its Steampunk setting, great characters and intriguing storyline it is easy to get sucked into this visual novel. However, it is not perfect as the pacing slows down considerably in later chapters and too many superfluous characters with little impact on the story keep getting introduced. Stick with it though and you’ll find a great visual novel with characters that are truly memorable. Gameplay: Some chapters drag their feet, but the overall story is quite captivating. Graphics: Great visuals, but the relatively low resolution is disappointing. Sound: Full Japanese voice acting, great sound effects and very nice music, but some tracks repeat too often.

Master Reboot

Master Reboot

I did not know what to expect when I entered the world of Master Reboot and the game delighted in surprising me around every turn. The way that the gameplay shifts depending on what memories you are reliving makes for a memorable experience and the creepy atmosphere will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you want to experience a game that is quite unlike anything else, do yourself a favor and check out Master Reboot. Gameplay: Each memory offers new surprises and ways to play. Graphics: The art style is very unique and features some breathtaking environments. Sound: The audio compliments the atmosphere of the game nicely.

NieR:Automata

NieR:Automata

Nier: Automata allows you to fight for the glory of mankind as an android locked into a war with the alien created machine lifeforms that have driven humanity to the moon. It's a stylish 3rd person action game with a semi-open world and fluid combat, but the story is really what makes the game so memorable. It's full of surprises and plenty of heart-wrenching moments that make it easier to look past some of the shaky technical aspects of the game. It's also undoubtedly a very quirky game, so it might not appeal to everyone, but if you are a fan of the genre then it is a must. Gameplay: Action-packed, entertaining, engrossing, and over the top. Graphics: Great designs for everyone from the environments to the characters and enemies. Sound: The voice acting is really good and the soundtrack is amongst the best in the business.

Shardlight

Shardlight

Guide Amy Wellard through a post-apocalyptic world where the poor try to eke out an existence under the oppressive rule of the aristocracy. Shardlight features an interesting setting, memorable characters and some great pixel art visuals. The fact that the puzzles are logical and the audio is superb also makes it easy to recommend to point & click adventure fans. Overall, this is yet another fine release from Wadjet Eye Games and is sure to please fans. Gameplay: Not too challenging, but enjoyable throughout. Graphics: Nice pixel art visuals depicting a variety of locations. Sound: Great soundtrack and stellar voice acting.

Leave a comment

one + sixteen =