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Have You Played... Consortium?

You should

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Consortium [official site] is one of those games that’s kinda hard to recommend… but I really respect and wish more people would play. I know. Contradiction. Let me explain. With words.

I have a fondness for games that shoot for the moon, and Consortium is absolutely one of those. Christ, it’s ambitious. It’s a real-time adventure that tries to distill the good bits of everything from Deus Ex to The Last Express to 24 into a couple of hours aboard the airship Zenlil. Attacks by enemy agents. A murder mystery on board. Just hanging out with the crew. Tick, tick, tick – the timer is always going, with the story branching and shifting like crazy based on how much you find, how you approach things, whether what you say makes people like and trust you, and even if you tell people that you’re not really troubleshooter Bishop-6, but someone controlling his body from a computer in another dimension. Which you are, literally and metaphorically.

Yeah. Did I mention that this game gets seriously meta?

It’s a really cool game that didn’t quite work, not helped by a horribly buggy launch and some odd design decisions like giving everyone a chess themed title like Pawn 6 and Knight 2 instead of just… well… using their bloody names. Actual quote: “Maybe talk to Rook 25, Pawn 32 or Pawn 4.” Aaargh! It’s not even as though they’re cold models of efficiency – they’re a pretty amiable bunch.

But! To play it is still to experience something genuinely fresh and ambitious in a way that helps paper over many of the cracks, and to really hope the team gets to put its lessons into practice. Kickstarter will determine whether or not that happens, but I’m hoping. They recently announced Consortium: The Tower Prophecy, and I have high hopes for it. They’ve got the tools, they’ve got the talent. Fingers crossed, they just need a second chance. And if you’re prepared for serious jankiness as well as cool stuff, definitely check the first one out to see why they deserve it.

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Richard Cobbett

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