PAX East 2017 provided a lot of great chances to see upcoming games from many companies on the show floor. At one of my many appointments, I got to sit down and play the PC game Conarium from Iceberg Interactive. Conarium is a chilling Lovecraft-inspired game, which follows a story involving four scientists and their endeavor to challenge what we normally consider to be the ‘absolute’ limits of nature. The game will have the player thinking of quite a bit of the possibilities at work, especially in the puzzles. What makes this game really interesting is that it’s inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s novella titled, “At the Mountains of Madness”, but set after the events of the book. Here is a nice list of games over the years that gave a nod to Lovecraft and his idea.
While the demo wasn’t long at PAX East, it provided a look at what is coming our way with the game. In Conarium, you play as Frank Gilman, who wakes up completely clueless of what has happened with the feeling that something is wrong. In this adventure you’re located in Upuaut, which is an Antarctic base near the south pole. As you play, you’ll find out that you’ve died, but yet you’re alive again. How and what’s going on is what the player will discover as the story develops. Now let’s break into how the game feels.
Conarium itself is horror game of sorts, but I’m not meaning to the point that something is watching your every move. As you can see with some of the screenshots within this hands-on, the game gives a dark tone within the area I played. I do wish that the demo I played was longer to provide a bigger idea of the events leading up other than memories that come and go. This doesn’t include the shadows you’ll see, but aren’t really there. The full game may have more to feature, but at this time the demo from PAX only gave a glimpse.
As you play there is no real battling between you and the creatures that you see. Yes, some of the things you’ll see may have you thinking, but following Lovecraft’s style of writing there’s no hand-to-hand combat or violence. However, you can die in this game due to poison gasses and possibly other things within Conarium. Conarium pits you against a mystery – why you’re alive again and what may have done this to you. The story itself is told in memory fragments, which you’ll discover as you play. Examples of this include: scenes of how you and your team found this building, the creatures that you’ll see, and other events that will most likely be in the full release. Gilman will remember parts of his past leading up to the events and may even find out that humans may have not built this strange area. Conarium also provides small puzzles, which are usually easy to figure out, at least in the time I had to play it.
On the subject of puzzles, the demo didn’t have many, so pushing into the mechanics of it wouldn’t be easy for me to explain. The one puzzle within the demo included carrying an orb or sorts that opened up new passages and being able to reflect a beam of light to key points. I’d personally like to elaborate more about the gameplay, but as I’ve stated the demo itself was short and gave only quick insight to some of the events. The tension this game provided was making me wonder what is going on and what caused the events to happen. As for the horror centered experience the game provided, Conarium gave the sense that the information you’ll learn as you play could effect the overall experience.
Overall, I could see myself playing Conarium once the game is released later this year. Playing the full version of the game will provide me a much bigger chance to dig into what’s going on in Frank Gilman’s strange tale. Iceberg Interactive has an interesting concept with this style of game and choice of source material. After having the chance to play it at PAX East 2017, this is one game both the readers and I will need to check out. While no details of price have been provided just yet, you can find more game information here and here. In the meantime, be sure to follow Iceberg Interactive on Twitter and follow the game page here on Twitter. You can expect a full review once the game releases, or another hands-on preview once available.