Conarium is an unapologetic descent into confusion that won’t hold your hand and will leave you with more questions than answers.
A Journey, Unusual
Conarium is a horror, adventure game inspired by the great H.P Lovecraft and feels more like an interactive puzzle mystery game than a traditional horror game. Conarium is different from other games in the genre. The horror of Conarium comes from the uneasiness you feel when walking through the dark corridors and dimly lit caverns of the game. By comparison, the game plays similarly to Amnesia or Outlast but with a lot less running for your life and more wandering around. Overall the game really isn’t all that scary and is more of a mystery puzzle solving game than a horror adventure game. This, however, doesn’t by any means take away from it’s a phenomenal story.
“I am Frank. You are just air.”
You play as an Anthropologist named Frank on an expedition in Antarctica. The team and lead scientist, Dr. Faust have gone missing and you awaken with a strange device attached to your hand before setting off to find out what happened to everyone. Almost immediately, Frank is assaulted with visions of shadowy people and it becomes clear that something is seriously wrong.
Threads That Lead to Nowhere?
By the end of Conarium, I was left wondering what half the game meant. It felt like the story splintered into multiple subplots that only served as a distraction from the main story. Some of the more confusing portions of the game came in the form of strange jumps through reality/time. I wasn’t sure if they were visions of the past, or if Frank was just losing his mind. By the end of it, I was left wondering what the hell I just played.
Pondering Strange Mechanics
Conarium took me roughly six hours to stumble through. Its puzzles left me asking myself more often than not, “what the hell am I doing?” as I struggled to understand some of the more difficult puzzles. I wouldn’t say the game was challenging by any means but some of the mechanics felt clunky and some wanted a way too specific action than I thought necessary. In one puzzle you have to draw a symbol by connecting the dots. It wasn’t enough to simply just draw out the symbol either. You had to connect the dots in the specific order as well for it to accept your input. Personally, I felt this was an unnecessary requirement and don’t understand why the developers chose to be that specific with the task without giving any indication it was required that way.
A Strange Ending In A Strange Place
At the very end of Conarium you’re given a screen that says how long it took you to compete, how many secrets and things you found, and which ending you got. There are two endings to Conarium which hinge on a single choice toward the end of the game. The ending I got was so abrupt it was jarring and left me asking one simple question. “What?…”. I understood the ending I got, it made sense in the scope and narrative but it was the kind of ending that felt like an unnecessary cliffhanger to a game that currently has no plans for a sequel or expansion.
A Journey Worth Taking
At the end of the day, if you’re a fan of H.P Lovecraft and are looking for a unique story based game that won’t take you years to complete Conarium is worth the money. It’s not Outlast and it’s not Amnesia but I don’t think the developers ever intended it to be. Conarium succeeds at telling a very unique and odd Lovecraftian story that I believe is worth the price. You can pick up on Steam for about twenty bucks and it’s different than I expected, but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the story.