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Inspired by and loosely based on the actions and adventures within this book

CONARIUM

  

On the PC via STEAM from Zoetrope Interactive and using the UnReal Engine.

If you want a game to keep you on the edge of your seat without any archetype hystrionics or sudden freakish sound effects for no reason other than it was a bit quiet at that moment and the designer wanted to add a jump/scare sequence for fun, then this stylish Lovecraft based tale will have the hairs on your arms trying to crawl off your tingling flesh while those prickly little hairs at the back of your neck bristle and try to fight their way back inside you.  You are Frank Gilman, you are a survivor ..... but for how long ?

  

To begin with you have to shade your monitor screen so you can barely see anything on it - this adds the spooky darkness feel to the game but also means there are things that you find, a Compass for example and a book "Antediluvian - Shamanism" that you cannot define clearly. At least you can pick the book up and examine it but the Compass, along with several other items that look of interest and also look useful, you cannot do anything with except hold them, rotate them and put them down again, mildly frustrating but what is expected of "Move & Look" adventures nowadays.

Although based mainly on the H.P.Lovecraft book "At The Mountains of Madness" once I managed to adventure outside into the icy winds and cold deep snow of the compound, the UPUAUT ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION BASE, I couldn't but help thinking of John Carpenter's "The THING" movie and I will say that it was with this thought of trepidation playing in the video section of my mind that I made my way to the other building to locate the main power switch.

  

There isn't a whole lot I can say about CONARIUM because it is an adventure of discovery and anything I say could be construed as a clue or a spoiler, and I wouldn't want to ruin anyone's fun. Suffice it to say that if you like slow moving Point, Move, Examine games with little action and few actual puzzles this is for you. I could have saved all that typing by saying that Lovecraft fans will enjoy seeing one of his major tales, including Old Ones, Shoggoth haunted ruins and Ancient extra terrestrials, brought to you in what used to be the comfort of your computer room but which is now the scariest room in your house - probably.

   

All the usual suspects are here; locating items, objects and in this case journal pages, using them as and when required, interacting with items to create a necessary problem solver and so on and so forth. Your Conarium, the wrist-watch type object you wear, will often cause you to perceive unusual sensations as you wander around. These are being received by the device from an unknown ancient, possibly inter-galactic, source; your screen may black out for a second or two or it may have an electronic wobble that on its first occurrence you may think it is a computer glitch but be assured it is part of the game; as is going insane!

  
What are these and where do they fit into this tale of terror ?

   
These items look useful, but are they ?

The UPUAUT Expedition was following the locations acknowledged by the emeritis Professor William Dyer of the Miskatonic University who thought the Old Ones had made a slow path from the Stars to land on Earth beyond the Elder City and over the Mountains of Madness. Players who are not fans of H.P.L. may still find this an interesting and enjoyable psychological adventure, but if you have any admiration for Lovecraft's imagination and story-telling you will most probably see and find things that the majority of us will miss. It's Lovecraft so there will be monsters but what type of monster and where you will find them will remain a mystery until you play the adventure for yourself.

  
Drawers and Cupboards hide secrets

  
Boxes are just boxes, but this might come in Handy

 
The Pequod

   
Scary Stuff

 

  
The CONARIUM is worn on your wrist like a watch.

 
Baby it's Cold Outside

     

 

  
The Upuaut Antarctic Expedition's Sign and a Sign (in blood?) from a friend ?

  
As well as a Brain, you need hands apparently.  

   
Sometimes I wasn't sure if I was playing a game or reading a book, so many Notes and Books.

   
There be Monsters .....   

Like the majority of H.P. Lovecraft's stories the fear factor is in the mind of the beholder. You can be your own worst enemy simply by believing what you see or believing what you thought you saw, or by not believing either. Your mind will be addled with information, misinformation and the threat of what is going to appear around the next misty corner or come out of the cupboard next to the one you just tentatively opened. CONARIUM is one of the better conversions of HPL to the electronic game even though there is no actual mention of Cthulhu you know he is always lurking and thus either keeping your focus sharp or drilling little bore-holes of doubt and insanity into the soft tissue of your most precious grey matter. But don't worry, Arkham has space for at least one more "patient"!

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015