[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hen Consortium first launched last January, it was rather rough. I had purchased it the day it came out, and my initial reactions were those of dismay. It was very glitchy, prone to crashing at random, and there were some very aggravating performance issues. It took me around twenty minutes for the game to load after I launched it, an additional fifteen minutes to create a new file, and ten minutes to save that file. Half of the time, the game would crash as soon as I opened my inventory. The rest of the time, it would crash as soon as I closed my inventory. After a few hours of attempting to play the game, I gave up. But to Interdimensional Games’ credit, they didn’t abandon the game. They worked hard to patch the glitches, fix the crashes, and optimize it. When I returned to Consortium two months after it had launched, it felt like an entirely different game.
Consortium is the most meta game I’ve ever played, and more than a little postmodernist. The set-up is rather original: in the ‘real’ world, a satellite has been created that can open a rift in the time-space continuum. This is where it gets a little trippy: you play yourself, accessing a rift to an alternate dimension. There; you take direct control over another person (Bishop 6) while having no knowledge of who they are, where they are, and what’s going on. Charlie Kaufman, eat your heart out. It’s a pretty well-written game, and none of the characters fall into any stereotypes. The voice acting is solid for the most part, but there were a couple lines I wasn’t very impressed with. There’s also a character discussed towards the end of the game that, while I wasn’t personally bothered by, could be considered in bad taste by others.
The combat in Consortium is fairly unremarkable. While the actual combat mechanics feel rather average, you are presented with the option to simply knock out all of the enemies you encounter instead of just blasting them to bits. Both options affect how other characters react to you, with most of them being rather horrified if you go all Punisher on every bad guy you see. It’s also entirely possible to complete the entire game without ever drawing your weapon. In case you really do enjoy the combat, there’s a holo-training area you can access that’s purely combat-driven.
I’ve completed Consortium around four times, and each playthrough took me around eight hours. The game is highly reactive to the choices you make, and every now and again I boot it up just to see what happens if I do choose X instead of Y in a particular conversation. The game is the first of a trilogy, and I’m very interested to see how the choices you make in Consortium will affect the plot of the following game. There’s one particular situation that has numerous possible outcomes, and each one feels like it could drastically affect the sequel. However, there is one very negative point I’d like to address: the ending. It feels very abrupt, and during my first playthrough I was taken rather aback at how sudden it felt.
A crowdfunding campaign for the sequel to Consortium, The Tower Prophecy, is expected to launch this year. The sequel is expected to improve upon the mechanics introduced in Consortium, and I’m excited to see how the story will continue.