Conglomerate 451: Overview
We have already seen games in the spirit of Wizardry and Eye of the Beholder (that is, old-school dungeon crawler), but in a modern way, without elves and orcs - for example, the action of Vaporum takes place in the world of steampunk. The authors of Conglomerate 451 went even further - here we have a distant future and cyberpunk, but we manage not one unit, but an entire agency where such units can be cloned in batches. What came of this?
So, we are running a special government agency tasked with regaining control of Sector 451 in the city of Conglomerate, where there is a war between corporations. For this, it is necessary to carry out missions, victory in which reduces the influence of "corporations", and defeats, on the contrary, increase or return to the previous level.
Much of this design is reminiscent of XCOM. On the basis of the agency, we not only recruit, equip and pump fighters, but also treat them in a medical center, and also research technologies in the scientific department. There are many technologies - there are military, cybernetic, medical and others. True, they are arranged quite primitively - we open a new one, reduce the cost of studying, increase efficiency. However, here we do not have Civilization. There is also a director’s office, an archive, and even a cyber cemetery, where you can remember the dead soldiers.
As I said, we do not recruit, but clone, wards of different classes. A soldier, engineer, hunter, geneticist, chemist, scout - what these and other specialists will be like depends on the player. When creating a clone, we ourselves choose a set of skills and even (after observing a number of conditions and studying the appropriate technologies) we edit DNA - you can add not ordinary, but mutated cells that give certain bonuses.
That is, the same soldier or engineer may have different abilities and mutations. Add to this the need to modify weapons, insert upgrades into the equipment, and cyber prostheses and implants of different quality levels (again you have to study technologies to access the coolest ones) in the head, arms and legs and body of the fighters, and you get enough space for experiments.
In addition, as you participate in the battles, the clone independently acquires some features - both positive and negative. Or he will get an injury that cannot be cured at the medical center - after each such wound there is a definite chance to completely avoid the consequences.
However, you should not overestimate the role of the same mutations, cyber prostheses and equipment upgrades - they do not fundamentally change any abilities, but simply add a few percent to damage, defense, initiative and so on (it depends on the type), and some parameters can slightly decrease.
These, however, are trifles - as well as a rustic technological tree in its essence. What is worse is that Conglomerate 451 is a very boring and monotonous game. Naturally, there can be no question of any strategic depth comparable to what we saw on the global map in XCOM . And this is also not scary - it is clear that we have a “bagel” with elements of a strategy, and not vice versa.
Another thing is that in this situation it was necessary to make a more intelligible, staged and intriguing plot. He wasn’t especially in the Ikskoms either, but there it was more than offset by fascinating strategic exercises on the global map and tactical exercises on rough terrain.
Here all the missions are the same (kill them all, find an item or information), they take place in the same areas, and the pumping of fighters and the accumulation of resources are so slow that they return to the same scenery (the procedural generation does not seriously change them ) it is necessary very, very often.
At the same time, movement and battles, decorated in the classic “Wizard” style (walking on hexes, a view from the eyes, each of the three party members uses skills in his turn when we click on enemies or allies), are so slow, and our wards can smear so often, rushing into one or another part of the body, that after some time from despondency I just want to strangle myself. Fights seem to go according to the rules of the genre, but they are too sluggish and boring - both the enemies and our shields very slowly demolish, pain and intoxication accumulate before health begins to fall. But the example of The Bard's Tale IV proved that such old-school combat mechanics can be revived with interesting ideas.
Yes, there are hacker mini-games to crack some doors and terminals (though they always repeat). From time to time we are assigned a special secret mission, which must be completed in the allotted time. Or they show on the news how people gather for rallies in support of the idea that the government does not really exist - this, of course, worries the authorities and seems to support some kind of plot intrigue. There are also random events - for example, we are informed that witches with brooms came to the agency, ready to curse our enemies for a fee. It's funny, although it falls out of the general style and happens on big holidays. AI is constantly chatting with us (and sometimes scans something), but her jokes are frankly unsuccessful and strained.
That is, all this can slightly revive what is happening, but not in the strength to seriously reduce the overall level of uniformity. In addition, opponents after some time (the whole game is divided into weeks) sharply and unreasonably become stronger - seemingly the same in the same missions of the same difficulty level. This seems to be good - it stimulates shuffling the game more actively, playing with implants / upgrades / classes. But in fact, there is no particular flexibility here and you do not care, whatever one may say, there is a grind, grind and again grind. We have to start missions not closer to the main goal, but on the outskirts to collect resources and experience - and this only strengthens the monotony and routine.
In vain, the authors of Conglomerate 451 began to play with the mechanics of XCOM . And in vain did they make a bagel. It would be better if they gave us a story RPG in the spirit of Wizardry , only with modern graphics and in the world of cyberpunk. That is, we would go along the path of Legend of Grimrock - remember its second part, where there were unique locations, unexpected situations, riddles and traps. And instead, it is solid grind and monotony.
Pros: well-designed cyberpunk setting; many different mechanics and opportunities for pumping, improving and tuning fighters and their equipment.
Cons: the plot is only in the background; very dull and monotonous gameplay, focused on constant grind; annoying, repeating music.
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