A "First Look" at Conarium
based on a preview version of the game
Zoetrope Interactive/Iceberg interactive
“You, as Frank Gilman, open your eyes inside a room filled with strange, pulsating noises emanated by a queer device. Having recalled nothing other than that you’re in Upuaut, an Antarctic base, curiously you find the building devoid of life. Thus you start searching for the crew members inside a primal pre-human catacomb … Eventually someone contacted you through your hand held receiver and urged you to use the submarines to follow them through the bowels of the earth”
So says the opening screen.
The next screen says that this preview build is a modified version of the actual gameplay.
Hopefully it is also a very truncated version, because 38 minutes and 9 seconds later (according to the end screen) it was all over, and not at all satisfactorily.
Steam says the game is a deep and suspenseful Lovecraftian story with lots of secrets and Easter eggs, ominous but wonderful graphics, multiple endings, and a haunting and atmospheric soundtrack. The Lovecraft bit I got, not so much the rest.
Underwhelming would be my take.
The most unsatisfying part was the end. I had made my way through the catacombs and rooms and arrived at what seemed to be a key point. Trying to enter the correct symbol into a “machine”, the game exhorted me to go back and find what it was that needed entering. So I did, or at least I tried, only to be set upon by large lizardlike creatures and it was game over. My ending was labelled “haunted” and I was told to “try exploring more carefully”.
Which is what I was trying to do when it all ended. Bah humbug I say.
My ending was also labelled “demo”, which suggests there will be more to come. I am not sure though that more of the same will make me come back.
While there was a Lovecraft feel to things, it was fairly humdrum. It was also a bit lead by the nose, the only real puzzling being finding all the rooms and locations. At times the game said things like “better take that with you” or “the power will run out over time”, which should have been part and parcel of trying to work things out. Can I suggest that this not be present in the non-preview build.
I didn’t of course get the right ending, so it isn’t completely straightforward. On a subsequent playthrough I stayed away from the final room, found another location and did another something, and got a “search continues” ending as I descended on an elevator. It wasn’t much longer that the first go, but then I did have that first play under my belt.
The end screen also gives you how many secrets, trophies and memories you found, all of them small in number and again presumably expanded in the non-preview build.
Conarium plays using a combination of keyboard and mouse. Most things you find you just look at, a few you take with you, and some will be used as inventory items. My axe was the most used, smashing things down being very needy indeed. There is voice and ambient sound and you can save at will. A journal keeps track of things.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz
RAM: 32GB GDDR5
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 470 8192MB