A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Conarium is a downloadable first-person adventure game based on the work of early 20th century horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Though not violent or bloody, the game takes place in dark scary places and features unsettling artwork, as well as occasional dead bodies and monsters. Themes of occult activity, madness, and psychotropic drug use could be too much for kids under twelve.
What's it about?
CONARIUM sends you to the wastes of Anartica to explore what's left of a scientific expedition gone horribly wrong. Having joined the infamous Dr. Faust in his quest to transcend human consciousness, you find yourself alone in an abandoned camp, unable to remember what happened to you and your colleagues. Slowly, you explore the camp and its environs, collecting notes and journals and triggering flashbacks. What forbidden knowledge did the expedition uncover? What's this strange device on your arm? And why do you feel like you've lived through it all before?
Is it any good?
It's a rare horror adventure that banks on fear rather than gore, and this is one of those. Though not exactly “safe” or kid-friendly, it relies on mature themes designed to provoke real creeping horror: fear of isolation, madness, and what's out there in the dark. Developer Zoetrope Interactive does right by its inspiration, creating a chilling story that builds on H.P. Lovecraft's novella, At the Mountains of Madness. Lovecraft's tale revolves around the discovery of an ancient race (possibly aliens) and their ruined city; Conarium is set in the aftermath of that discovery. The fear starts early when you realize you're all alone, snowed in and trapped inside an abandoned base. This emotion only builds as you search the base for your missing colleagues, and hings only get worse as you rediscover echoing ruins that trigger disturbing flashbacks of experiments gone wrong. The pacing's good for the most part, and tension is high. The only interruptions to these are occasional hard-to-find puzzle solutions. And despite one or two instances of jump scare/monster appearances, the fear is generated in true Lovecraft style, by the hero's own mind. The dread just gets thicker and more palpable until the final sequence, which is like a descent into Hell. Make no mistake; this is a adventure tailor-made for horror fans; as such, it's not for everyone. Then again, neither's H.P. Lovecraft.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about ethics and science. Does morality play a part in scientific research?
Discuss the difference between reading a story and playing one. Which do you prefer?
Think about characters in movies and books who explore alternate realities. If you had the chance, would you?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.