Zoetrope interactive, the makers of the “Darkness Within” series, are back with another Lovecraftian “horror” game called Conarium. Conarium is directly inspired by H.P Lovecraft’s work which made me really interested in the game as I have been interested in his work for quite some time now. But as someone who does not play a lot of horror games, I was kind of nervous to play this game and see what’s like.
The story of Conarium is heavily inspired by H.P Lovecraft’s novella “At the Mountains of Madness” but the story of Conarium is set after the events of the original story.
Conarium itself follows the story of four scientists who try to challenge and break the absolute limits of nature itself. You play as one of the scientists “Frank Gilman” at the start of the game you wake up in a room with almost no memory of what happened, only that you are on an Antarctic base near the South-Pole, having no idea of what is going on. You find the base being empty, feeling something is terribly wrong, you start your journey to find out what exactly happened.
Conarium does an excellent job at keeping the story somewhat vague but giving you just enough information to keep you interested and hooked on its plot.
The game also has great storytelling, not only via dialogue but also via the environment, there are tons of notes and messages scattered throughout your journey, and the environments themselves also give out little pieces of the story, which I love, it makes you pay attention to every little detail in the game and really encourages exploration.
The gameplay of Conarium definitely is not its most exciting part. Most of it consists of walking and exploring, there are multiple puzzles as well but they are nothing to write home about as they serve more as tools for the game to encourage exploration than actually being a challenging obstacle.
But all that is not a bad thing when you really get immersed into the world and story of Conarium, with the combination of the environments, great storytelling and the overall vibe of the game. It really keeps you on the edge of your seat as you want to explore the game and find out what happened to everybody on the base.
But with all that said, in my opinion, this is not a horror game, instead, it really is a very atmospheric adventure game with a creepy vibe to it. The game has too few scary moments for it to be a horror game, and the “scary” moments are not that scary either, more like creepy and weird.
Conarium is made in Unreal Engine 4 and it definitely does justice to it. The game is full of detail, great particle effects and beautiful locations. But graphics alone are not what makes this game look so great, the environments all look unique and very detailed they are made very well with always having something interesting in sight, so you always keep engaged with the game.
One of the best things in Conarium is its sound design. The sound really immerses you into the game with a lot of little but impactful sounds, like the crumbling walls in the ruins. You really have to experience it really feel how much the sound does for this game, it really is great.
What was a little worse though was the voice acting, the voice acting of the main character was kind of bad and that of most other characters was not that good either, although it did not bother me all that much but I still wanted to point it out.
As a game that focuses mainly on its story, it does not have too much replayability. Even though the game has secrets, collectibles and 2 endings I do not think it is worth to play the game again for that, especially since you can just load an old save to experience the other ending. But if you really want to find all secrets, the game only lasts around 4-5 hours, so it is not that big of a deal. Conarium is not a long game but this only is good for the game, as it might have gotten boring if it would have been much longer.
With all that in mind Conarium is great for all people who like Lovecraft and atmospheric heavy games or even people who just like a good story, just do not expect jump scares or crazy scary moments. What you can expect though is great storytelling with amazing sound design and awesome environments all wrapped up the intriguing vibe and world of Conarium Inspired by H.P Lovecraft.