The product, Conarium, was given to us for free by publisher Iceberg Entertainment. It is important for us to make it known that this does not impact our opinion of the game as a whole.
Conarium is a carefully crafted horror game that serves as an homage to American author H.P. Lovecraft. More specifically, this title takes heavy inspiration from the novella At the Mountains of Madness.
I’m not too familiar with Lovecraft’s work, so my preconceived notion was that this game was going to hit me with jump scares and monsters. However, when I dove deeper into the story, I got less scared and more fascinated. I can’t say much more without getting into mild spoilers, but don’t go into this game with the mindset that everything here is out to kill you. Instead, use critical thinking and try going in to figure out what is going on.
You play as Frank Gilman, a member of an Antarctic expedition team who has lost his memory and wakes up to find that his base crew has vanished. The story as a whole creates more questions than answers. Journals, audio recordings and weird visions are scattered around the base and provide more insight into what is going on. For someone who likes trying to put stories together, it was fun to find new pieces to this ever growing puzzle.
The atmosphere feels desolate and haunting; You will be holding your breath, preparing for the worst around every corner. However, moments of fear and panic are not entirely typical. Instead, if you’re anything like me, little details will fly over your head; forcing you to backtrack and search for what you may have missed. At one point, it took me about 20 minutes to realize that one of the elevators went in multiple directions. I thought I was hopelessly lost until I went back to the elevator and saw the directions hanging on the wall.
There’s not much to the overall gameplay of Conarium. For the most part, it acts as a walking simulator with occasional puzzles and chase scenes sprinkled into the mix. The puzzles are fun, intriguing and can easily fool you if you’re not thorough. The alienlike symbols and creatures you encounter only add to the outlandish world that Conarium seeks to explore.
The chase scenes are where Conarium is at its weakest. Thankfully there aren’t many, but the one’s that are there took me out of the immersion that I found myself in. Frank can only sprint for a limited time, and you can get easily killed by one of these beings while you recharge, leading to frustrating, yet avoidable deaths.
Even though my PC has been outdated since 2013 and I was forced to turn the graphics down to the “medium” setting, the visuals in Conarium were fantastic. Every hallway and corridor felt genuine and not once did I feel like I was in a cookie-cutter environment.
Each location had a unique vibe to it: the Antarctic base felt abandon, and I always felt like I had eyes on me, while the underground areas and catacombs made me feel like I was constantly in danger.
Overall, Conarium is a great game. It keeps you on your toes and all of the little things that you discover along the way add to the weird scenario you’ve found yourself in. It’s a refreshing break from the cliche horror game with a lasting story that will leave you wanting more. I said at the beginning that I’m not entirely familer with the work of Lovecraft, however, this game has convinced me to start reading his work.
You can pick up a copy of Conarium on Steam for $19.99.
For additional gameplay, I am going to be publishing a Let’s Play series of Conarium on YouTube.
Conarium does a fantastic job at keeping you engaged and keeps away from many of the horror cliches that plague modern horror games.