Have you ever wanted to see what a future where massive companies can take over part of metropolises and run amok? No? Me either, but in Conglomerate 451, that’s what you get. You run a special agency that has been contacted by the Senate of Conglomerate city to aid in the reclamation of sector 451, where rogue companies have divvied it up into turfs and made it a horrible place to live.
So, how do you help rectify the situation? Your agency has the ability to create clones at will. Each clone has a base class, with a set of skills that will aid it in its endeavours, but even clones from the same class have some minor differences in stats, so you’ll never get the same one twice. You can also mess around with their DNA a little, to boost their stats, which further gives you some variance in your ranks. Using this clone army, three units at a time, you undertake missions that undermine the influence of other companies within the city of Conglomerate.
Take me down to the cyberpunk city…
I’ve stuck a fair few hours into Conglomerate 451 already, and I keep getting drawn back in to it’s claws. It’s an incredibly polished indie game, with some absolutely stunning renderings of a cyberpunk city. You’ll get to go into various environments as you play, ranging from the neon-lit streets of the city of Conglomerate, to the dank depths of the sewers. Each area is populated with a number of things: loot, which comes in various forms and is used to purchase things; upgrades which you have to hack out to enhance your characters; and enemies. You can usually see enemies from a decent distance, and usually there is a way around them to avoid conflict if your team is a little battered and bruised. Sometimes however, battle is inevitable, and you must use your squad of three to try to eliminate the opponents. It’s all turn based, and you can inflict various debuffs to your enemies or buffs to your team, in addition to dealing damage or moving around the arena. Each character has four different combat options that you select during the cloning process, which you can then use to your hearts content until your enemies have turned to dust.
Battling your opponents can be a tough job if you are unprepared, but fortunately, there are a range of features that you can use to your advantage in Conglomerate 451. Almost everything in the game has upgrades, which are all unlockable by performing research tasks. The research tasks are all unlocked by spending your hard earned loot, but the trees are pretty in depth, and at times it can be pretty tricky to decide which node to unlock. Once you have unlocked them though, you can alter your clones’ DNA, upgrade their weapons, defence and what I loved most – was improving their skills to be more effective on the battlefield.
Conglomerate 451 also has an incredible soundtrack. Although it only really chimes in when you’re in battle – but this is probably why I like it so much. It reminds me heavily of Tekken 3, so as I’m fire bombing a group of enemies, I can channel my inner Paul Phoenix and it seems all the more awesome.
So far, Conglomerate 451 has impressed me. Everything seems quite polished, and the tactical side of the gameplay is really quite fun. So why have I put this in the negative side? It’s very fun – until you hit the third or fourth mission and you realise that it’s almost identical to the other missions you’ve done beforehand. The locations and enemies will differ, very slightly, to give the game a little variety, but overall you’ll still be doing the same thing, without any real requirement to bring anyone suitable to the mission. Not that you’d actually be able to tell anyway. There were occasions where I needed to hack through doors – would’ve been useful to bring my hacking specialist tech guy right? Except I had no clue beforehand that I was going to need his skills – and I’m not sure I needed him anyway. There didn’t seem to be any punishment for having a character with a low hacking skill. The hacking mini game seemed incredibly straight-forward.
This actually forms another one of my major criticisms with Conglomerate 451. Although there are several decent classes in there, when I was actually going into missions myself, I found there was very little reason to include anyone other than my usual suspects crew. All others had weaknesses and weren’t suitable for combat, so I didn’t really see the point in having many of them. There are missions available from the Director’s Office which do offer a few lines, which can sometimes be used to decide who to put on a certain mission, but overall it felt a bit lacking.
The Final Word
Conglomerate 451 is in Early Access. I feel like that could sum up the review in a nice little bite. You don’t always know what you’re getting with Early Access, sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe pants. The game is in a playable state, and what is there is pretty enjoyable, for a short while. It has a serious amount of potential, but I wouldn’t say it’s near a finished product. Not by a long shot. Or at least, I very much hope it isn’t. A bit more polish, some variety of gameplay, and then this game will certainly be an extremely enjoyable one.