Conarium – Xbox One Review
“From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent.”
H P Lovecraft inspired game have been all the rage for quite some time now so it takes something special to stand out. Conarium by Iceberg Games is one such game hoping to make an impact among fans of his stories and hopefully pull in those of us who like a good horror game with plenty of twists and turns.
Conarium takes its inspiration from H P Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness according to the official synopsis and the game follows the same path as the book. If you’ve read this novella I’m sure you’ll recognise places and events in the game that are directly influenced by his writings but this was all new to me.
Playing as the games protagonist Frank Gilman it’s your job to find out what the hell is going on at a remote research facility. You wake up from a fevered dream in this seemingly abandoned location with little to no knowledge about who you are, where you’ve been and what has happened. In front of you stands a strange device that arcs plasma but what it is, what’s it’s for and what the hell is going on here is what you will need to discover.
Conarium now becomes a macabre walking simulation where you stumble from one nightmarish vision to another while exploring every corridor, nook and cranny in your quest to find out what the hell is going on. This is where the repetitive nature of such games begins to kick in. Going from one room to the next and rummaging through every desk draw and every cupboard just to find that one elusive item becomes very boring. There doesn’t seem to be any logic to the placement of the items you need to find either which makes it all the more frustrating.
As rummage your way through literally everything you can you’ll find snippets of paperwork and journals that explain the backstory to the facility and what has been happening in the lead up to the events that led to the place being empty. It’s these pieces of information that really do a great job of opening up the story and making those moments of mindlessly wandering around from room to room worth it just so you can find out what the hell has happened.
The puzzle elements consist of nothing more than finding piece A and inserting it into object B and then solving an all too easy puzzle. These are worst kind of puzzles because there is no challenge to completing them apart from actually finding the pieces or just blind luck. I didn’t struggle to complete anything here and I doubt that anyone else will either.
The voice acting is sub-par at best but the soundtrack and ambient sound effects that change from one area to the next are superb and help to lift the game out of the doldrums. The distinct look and feel of each area is fantastically realized as you go from tight winding corridors to vast cavernous expanses. Everything seems real and coupled with the great sound design it makes every area seem alive and unique in its own right.
Conarium is a short game which will only take you a few hours to complete. You can go back if your a completionist but there’s just not enough to make me want to play through it again. Unraveling the story through journals and the games atmosphere are what stop this game becoming just another walking simulator but the lackluster puzzle elements do a lot to bring the game back down to earth with a bump and the high price just isn’t justified.
Review code supplied by Iceberg Interactive