Released on Steam back in 2019, this Switch port of Lovecraft adaptation Conarium has been a long time coming. Sadly it’s really not been worth the wait.
Based around Lovecraft tale In the Mountains of Madness, it sees you searching through an abandoned Antarctic research base – where you appear to be the only survivor after some sinister experiments have taken place.
You explore labs and underwater caves in order to figure out what’s happened. A range of readable logs and books can be found to help flesh out the story too.
Puzzles all usually involve finding and using tools scattered around the levels, and it’s usually not too complicated in terms of figuring out how to progress.
This is in part due to the deliberately confined settings, although there were times where we struggled to find a specific item as it was hidden away a bit too well. Fortunately these moments were fairly rare.
This is helped by the fact the presentation is undeniably impressive throughout. Environments are pleasingly detailed, and there’s a fair amount of speech .
Having a torch you can shine into the various nooks and crannies helps to make things that little bit tenser too.
Not tense enough for our liking though. Conarium’s understated nature actually ends up hobbling the experience a fair bit.
It is, quite simply, not that scary. And for a game inspired by Lovecraft – master of the sinister and macabre – that’s more than a little disappointing.
We’re not expecting cheap jumpscares or night-gaunts around every corner, but the experience is just too damn dry. The puzzles aren’t involving enough to excuse a plot that moves so slowly.
The Switch port is solid enough however, with loading times a little long at times but the game running at a decent lick consistently. It’s not recommended playing this handheld though due to the large amount of on-screen text you have to read – so Lite owners beware.
Conarium isn’t a bad effort at adapting one of Lovecraft’s stories, but simply isn’t dark enough to match up to its inspirations – it too often ends up feeling like The Room, but with inferior puzzles.