Conarium (Video Game)


Developed by Zoetrope Interactive

Published by Iceberg Interactive

Available on PC

Rated E for Everyone

You know the problem with depicting mind shattering eldritch horrors from beyond the grasp of human knowledge? They are always the manufacturings of human knowledge. You know, the exact thing they are supposed to be beyond the grasp of. This is the category that all things Lovecraft always fall into for me. I enjoyed the bizarre shooter Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth for treading this fine line and introducing innovative and interesting mechanics for a shooter of the time. But the moment I beat Dagon by shooting a cannon in his face a few times… the otherworldly horrors lost their mojo.


Reality folding in on itself is only so spooky when it makes a nice little walkway for me.

The whole appeal of Lovecraft is to pique the corners of your imagination. Knowledge meant to be unknown is just that. As soon as you try to put it in words, it either A) makes your head explode, or B) lets you down. Column B is the sad reality for most Lovecraft inspired games. There’s a certain level of vague you can be with books that just doesn’t exist in an interactive medium. No matter how grotesque in description, there is only so scared I can be when the shambling horrors are foiled by hiding behind a barrel.


Good thing it also gives you plenty to read!

So I roundly applaud Conarium for being an adult and just doing away with this for a majority of the game. Many recent horror games try to straddle the line between hide-and-seek simulator and walking simulator, but Conarium is truly best described as a puzzle game. And no, not one of those, “Listen to all of the prompted dialogues and continue” affairs. The puzzles in Conarium are tough, and I only found 3/7 of the secret areas in two playthroughs. It’s a phenomenal amount of challenge for any first person game that isn’t Portal.


Although it does do that bullshit static effect to mask the fact that tentacles just aren’t really that creepy

In Conarium, you play as Frank Gilman, a… person, with… powers? You wake up in an arctic base alone, unaware of how you got there or the nature of the glowing device attached to your hand. As you go about the facility and open up new rooms and text logs, you find out that your purpose here is far from normal. It’s basically impossible to describe without spoilers. Or even with spoilers. Conarium takes the darkly whimsical aspect of Lovecraft to full effect, pushing the limits of logic almost to their breaking point. For any Lovecraft fans, it will be a pleasantly familiar path through the grey area of sanity. For anyone else, it is confusing. Even spelled out to you, this game will not make sense. If you want some kind of clear picture. be prepared to play through a few times.


Why does this dude have a talking head in his office? Uh… elder gods?

The puzzles in the game are sufficiently complex without being hindered by commonly cumbersome mechanics. There were a few times where I had to backtrack to while figuring out a difficult puzzle, and was wondering if I might get ticketed by the fun police for how fast I was zipping around. Pay attention, because this is how you do sprint speed, puzzle games! I’m sick of your weak limping through levels. What’s best is that the puzzles can be legitimately challenging without descending into the level of bullshit. Throughout the entire game, I never spent more than 30 minutes on a puzzle, and felt satisfied in my cleverness after each.


Though you’d think an ancient advanced civilization would think of an easier way to open a door than inserting a crystal into a star map to make glyph that you draw into some black goo…

Conarium is exactly what I want when I boot up a horror game without shotgun decapitations. Minimal bullshitm, maximum intrigue. it delivers on the promise of Lovecraft by keeping things vague. The game is at its weakest when trying to visually depict the monstrous nightmares beyond our realm of comprehension. But it does so so infrequently, that most of the otherworldly machinations are left up to your own design. If you want a great puzzle/adventure game with good payoff, definitely give Conarium a look. For Lovecraft fans looking for an experience beyond, “OMG look how creepy that squidface is,Conarium is a must. It’s a truly cerebral experience that should please any horror fan.

  • Game
User Rating 3.69 (16 votes)


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