Arts & Culture

Why aren’t you playing: Consortium

Why aren’t you playing: Consortium
Welcome to the future. (Press image)
written by Vaughn Pearson
February 6, 2014 1:53 pm
Welcome to the future. (Press image)

Welcome to the future. (Press image)

You may think me somewhat silly for opening a review like this, but I simply love Consortium’s options menu. You can select your video settings, but what’s more, click the setting itself and a little description of just what you are changing pops up. Don’t know what anti-aliasing is? That’s fine, the game explains it.

Consortium won me over in its little details. Branching dialogue doesn’t work on a “good vs. evil” morality meter like in Mass Effect or similar series; it works on flow of dialogue and subject of conversation. You don’t pick “I want to be the bad guy this conversation!” No, you say, “Hmm, I wonder what this Guardian Church business is. I think I’ll steer the conversation that way.”

Consortium is curiously refreshing. Many aspects of the game break from the norm, going new and different directions that serve as a solid reminder why true progress is being made with the medium in the realm of indie gaming.

You are not, very technically, playing as a character. You play as yourself, controlling a character in an alternate future where war no longer exists, religion is gone (or perhaps has merely changed drastically), poverty is no more and everyone is pretty happy.

Well, most people. Some want to blow your head off. This is all explained with a great deal of quantum mechanical science talk. I can’t say how accurate the idea is, but it was very impressive-sounding and sufficiently drew me into the narrative. As Bishop 6, a member of a flying fortress of sorts, you must help the crew of the Zenlil survive their longest day. Along the way there are twists and turns, and things get pretty hairy, but it’s all good fun and up to you, as Bishop 6’s guide, to figure out how you want to handle the situations that arise.

The game comes to us via Kickstarter, raising over $20,000 above its asking budget. Interdimensional Games put on a good show in return. The game does, however, stumble at points, with dialogue (especially early on) ham-fisting in plot details. In fairness to the developers, the world they created is massive, despite never having the character step off the Zenlil. A little blunt delivery can be forgiven, but at points it can detract from the experience.

Sadly, my time with Consortium was cut short due to damage sustained by my computer while traversing a deceptively icy patch of sidewalk, but what time I did have was enjoyed. Ultimately, the game feels like a predicator for future games in the universe Interdimensional Games has created for us, but I’m not entirely sure I have a problem with that. It’s a universe I’d greatly enjoy exploring further.

Consortium is a breath of fresh air. It may not be a whirlwind of change that carries gaming to a higher echelon, but it’s fun, it has a cool story to tell and a fascinating world to explore, even from within the confines of a giant futuristic plane.

Consortium is available on PC through Steam for $19.99.

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