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

Cat Quest

Cat Quest

Cat Quest is a very tongue-in-cheek role playing game that is sure to appeal to fans of the genre who also loves cats. Don’t be fooled by the bright, colorful visuals, though, as the game is every bit as fun and addictive as its serious counterparts. The streamlined interface and open world makes the game a joy to play and it offers hours of fun, although it can also be enjoyed in short bursts if you don’t have a lot of time. It is obviously not as in-depth as more serious takes on the genre, but remains addictive and entertaining throughout. Gameplay: A very accessible entry in the action RPG genre that favors fun over statistics and inventory juggling. Graphics: Bright, colorful and very easy on the eyes. Sound: The game doesn’t have any speech, but the soundtrack hits all the nostalgic notes.

The Hong Kong Massacre

The Hong Kong Massacre

The Hong Kong Massacre is a top down shooter with an addictive blend of all out action, slow motion dives and bloody destruction. It will receive a lot of comparisons to Hotline Miami and Max Payne, but the addictive gameplay and John Woo elements ensures that it makes its own mark on the genre. The cut-scenes could be a little better and the game lacks some polish here and there, but overall it is a great shooter that has plenty of thrills to offer for those who are up to the challenge. Gameplay: Challenging and unforgiving, but very addictive and rewarding. Graphics: Plenty of blood and destructible scenery along with some interesting locations. Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack and sound effects are good.

Drifting Lands

Drifting Lands

From big bosses and swarms of enemies to screens filled with bullets and explosions, Drifting Lands offers everything fans expect from the side scrolling shooter genre. However, it goes one step further by also merging it with some action-RPG elements that will keep you coming back for more in a bid to customize your ship to the max. It starts out a little slow, but thanks to multiple difficulty grades, the intensity of the action quickly ramps up. Anyone with an itchy trigger finger looking for a shooter that has a bit more replay value than usual shouldn’t at the very least try out the free demo. Gameplay: A little overwhelming at times, but at least you are eased into things quite gently. Graphics: Detailed and colorful, especially for a side scrolling shooter, but very few truly jaw-dropping set pieces. Sound: The sound effects lack a little punch, but the soundtrack is as varied as it is rocking.

3D Realms Anthology – Steam Edition

3D Realms Anthology - Steam Edition

3D Realms created some of the best PC titles in the 90s bar none and the opportunity to add the whole bunch of them to your Steam library shouldn’t be missed. Whether you fondly remember playing these games as a kid or simply want to check out why these games revolutionist the Shareware industry don’t hesitate to splash out on this anthology. Just bear in mind that a lot of the titles included in the anthology can also be picked up for free from the 3D Realms website. Gameplay: The anthology features 32 classic games spread across a multitude of genres. Graphics: Since the majority of these games are pushing three decades in age the visuals are a little dated, but certainly not bad. Sound: Many of the games feature great audio and the inclusion of the Re-Rockestrated Soundtrack is also a big plus.

Pixel Puzzles: Japan

Pixel Puzzles: Japan

Pixel Puzzles: Japan offers an interesting twist on the traditional Jigsaw puzzle without the hassle of finding out that you are missing pieces. Things start off very calm but as the pieces multiply the challenge increases considerably. The constantly moving puzzle pieces also make it tricky, but there is no time limit to worry about. About the only annoyance is that you cannot save your progress during a puzzle. Gameplay: Calm and relaxing, but can become quite challenging as well. Graphics: Nothing particularly outstanding but decent enough. Sound: Calm music and the soothing sounds of a Shishi-odoshi (which can be disabled.)

Princess Maker Refine

Princess Maker Refine

Princess Maker Refine is not as complex or feature packed as its sequel, but this also makes it a little easier to get into for newcomers. In addition, the game is priced at half the cost of Princess Maker 2, which makes it a more lucrative impulse buy for players who are curious about the genre. Guiding your adopted daughter on a path to one of many endings is surprisingly addictive and while the game can become a little repetitive, it offers plenty of replay value. There are still some rough edges that will need to be smoothed out with future updates, but overall the game has lost none of its charm. Gameplay: It looks a little complicated initially, but is easy to get into. Graphics: Sadly no animations, but the overall visuals still look nice. Sound: Features some nice tunes and full Japanese voice overs.

Leave a comment

5 × 5 =