Review: Conarium (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): June 6, 2017
- Release Date (EU): June 6, 2017
- Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
- Developer: Zoetrope Interactive
- Genres: Adventure, Horror
- PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
The plot of Conarium is a simple albeit clichéd one:
You are Frank Gilman, a member of the Anthropology Department in the Miskatonic University. You have taken part in the Upuaut expedition led by Dr. Faust, attempting to pass beyond the limits of human consciousness by using a device called Conarium.
When you find yourself regaining consciousness, you are alone in the Antarctic expedition base, and you remember nothing (how convenient!).
As you try to regain your bearings by exploring the deserted base, you are taken by debilitating headaches that lead to odd visual and auditory experiences... probably hallucinations, right? Not really... It turns out that the visions are due to the cryptic device attached to your hand, the Conarium.
By further exploring the base, you'll come across notes and recordings from the other members of the expedition that slowly help you piece together what's been happening. It turns out the team came across an ancient civilization in Antarctica, complete with bas-reliefs, tombs, mummies, sculptures and what not. But their most intriguing invention was the Conarium which you and the other members were researching on.
This mysterious device is not only connecting the minds of the bearers of other Conariums but also to the inhabitants of said civilization. Did I mention that the latter have humanoid-reptilian morphology and aren't too human-friendly?
Conarium relies heavily on exploration and environmental storytelling. You have to help Frank look around for clues to solve puzzles, discover notes and recordings and obtain key items in order to progress. If you're the kind of gamer to breeze through a game by over-looking the minute details, then you'll miss key parts of the plot. The latter is the game's forte and leans heavily on it. It is heavily inspired from H.P Lovecraft's novella "At the Mountains of Madness", with the recurrent theme of an Antarctica expedition and even mentions of the "Elder Things"! The style is similar but the plot isn't a direct copy and it could very much be considered as a sequel. Very Lovecraftian indeed.
It's a more modern point-and-click type of game with very impressive graphics rendered in Unreal Engine 4 and the eerie soundtrack sets the mood for a horror fiction. Unfortunately, as much as the scene is set for a horror game, it is not very much horrifying nor challenging. The only "horror" part is a 3 minute hide-and-seek session with the humanoid reptilians and the solutions to the various puzzles are usually in close proximity.
Nevertheless that doesn't make Conarium a bad game per se. I enjoyed the full... 3 hour and 20 minutes I played of it. Yes, it is a short game but an interesting one, more so if you appreciate narrative games. And hey, there are multiple endings to the game!
Conarium is a graphically impressive game with an engrossing plot. Despite being of short duration and having little challenge, it makes for an interesting experience. Coming from indie devs Zoetrope Interactive, I look forward to what game they'll make in the future.
+ Graphically impressive
+ Gripping storyline
+ Multiple endings
+ Manages to mimic a proper Lovecraftian atmosphere
- Little challenge
- Not much horror for a horror game
The beautiful visuals, professional voice acting and an accompanying eerie soundtrack set the tone for a worthy Lovecraftian title.
Minimal challenge and little horror aspects downplay what could have been a much better game.
Enjoyable as it is, the game is very short but you might want to get back to it in order to unlock the different endings
out of 10
(not an average)
Conarium is short but enjoyable game with a gripping storyline and beautiful animation. But it's not much horror as it is Lovecraftian. If you are into plots in the style of the influential horror fiction author, you should probably check it out.