Conarium – In pursuit of distant secrets – Review

Dracolich – Tuesday, June 20, 2017 12:32 AM
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Merely six months after we unanimously decided on exactly which promising horror titles we’d be looking forward to this year, we got our hands on Conarium, ready to step into a virtual representation of H.P. Lovecraft’s haunting world.

Though we initially expected to play a horror game, what we got in terms of genre was essentially a walking simulator oozing with atmosphere – one that actually manages to present the player with a number of moderately unnerving scenes from time to time.

Much to my relief, Conarium refrains from relying on the clichéd practice of repeated jump scares; instead, it operates with surprises and visions, as well as a few migraine-induced hallucinations. Nonetheless, I noticed a strong lack of genuine, blood-curdling terror throughout the game.

As we go about our business exploring the story and the game’s various locations, we will run into a number of logical puzzles along the way; their difficulty is mostly in the middle of spectrum, with only one that I would label as somewhat more complex. The average player will mostly have no trouble completing them – still, it was quite pleasant to see such logical elements begin to seep back into video games; hopefully, this will become a trend and we’ll be able to see heftier intellectual challenges in the future. Additionally, I must also mention a bug I encountered during my playthrough: to break it down, it basically prevented me from interacting with a certain key location, and while loading an earlier save ultimately resolved the issue, it was not only frustrating, but also caused me to get stuck for a solid thirty minutes.

Searching for Lovecraft

While the game is based on Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness, I’ve also noticed some elements that seemed to reference stories such as The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath or In the Walls of Eryx. Conarium’s environments were all breathtakingly detailed and laced with mysticism – it all felt like something straight out of Lovecraft’s own dream world, and I’m sure he himself would have been quite content with this visual representation of his domain.

The countless mysteries permeating the adventure, the many locations – some shrouded in darkness, others vibrant and illuminated – the atmospheric sound effects and skillful dramaturgy all contribute to lulling players into a tense, dream-like state, from which only the protagonist’s grossly disappointing voice acting performance can wake them.

Conarium’s primary shortcoming is its brief length – the story ended just when it was starting to get interesting; I had finally discovered the Conarium, capable of connecting worlds, and was ready to make the journey to different, distant worlds to explore their many wonders.

ConariumPlatform: PC, PS4, XBox OneGenre: AdventureDeveloper: Zoetrope InteractivePublisher: Iceberg InteractiveRelease: 06/06/2017It wouldn’t have taken much more for me to sing unending praises of Conarium – nonetheless, the game still left a very positive impression on me. In fact, it managed to hold my attention to the point I lost all sense of time as I stared – in awe – at the various incredible locales thrown at me, trying my best to take in all its fine details. This is one title I can wholeheartedly recommend to fellow fans of Lovecraft’s oeuvre – and indeed, one can only hope that Zoetrope Interactive will soon continue their explorations of these wondrous worlds beyond the unknown.

Until then, I will be spending my time studying a blueprint I picked up during my expedition, one with an addendum written in an ancient language – according to these writings, a certain crystal found deep underground can be used to craft a device that causes one’s mind to be transported across time and space, allowing access to secrets not meant for the mortal mind…

Conarium is out now on PC.

Interested in more games based on the works on H.P. Lovecraft? Check out our own personal picks.

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