They just don’t make ‘em like they used to—and sometimes, that goes double for video games. Once-dead (or dying) western role-playing genres like CRPGs are making a comeback, but the good old fashioned party-based dungeon crawler is still a pretty obscure genre nowadays. If it weren’t for games like Legend of Grimrock and its sequel, there would be no prominent modern representations of this niche subgenre. So it’s great to see games like Conglomerate 451 coming in with the dungeon crawler formula. But instead of crawling dungeons, your group will be” crawling” the cyberpunk alleys of section 451.
Conglomerate 451 is a not-quite-Shadowrun role-playing game with a first person perspective. Unlike other first person games, your success doesn’t rely on fast reaction speed, instead, it relies on strategy, resource management, and lucky dice rolls. Though your perspective is a single camera, you are actually controlling a squad of three. Combat is turn based, and dependent on hidden dice rolls known as a random number generator (RNG).
Cyberpunk is a great aesthetic for a dungeon crawler, and Conglomerate 451 takes full advantage of it. Greedy corporations vie for power. Your job is to put these corporations in check, and restore order. You and your squad will take to streets with adorned with neon signs, and filled with roaming gangs who brandish weapons and cybernetic implants.
What would a cyberpunk themed game be without hacking? There are actually quite a few minigames that represent the various technological manipulations that are possible. Hacking usually yields items, augmentations, or bestows some other advantage. You can even hack your opponents in combat to bestow debuffs to get an advantage.
If one of your squad members dies in combat, their death is permanent—but don’t worry, they’re a clone, and with enough credits (and reputation) they can live again—sort of. Eventually you will be able to manipulate your agent’s genomes to add mutations, and even have different types of agent classes available to you to clone. Even if your agent doesn’t die, suffering slight wounds can stay with them for the rest of their lives. A pain and trauma system makes even mundane encounters have potentially long-term side effects.
Conglomerate 451 can be played in a finite story mode or endless mode. Story mode has a beginning and an end, while following a specific narrative—one where you will systematically take down each boss in section 451. Endless mode promises continuous content. Both modes end up playing about the same—you take missions, and manage resources.
Conglomerate 451 is still in early access, and has its clunky parts. Some of the text is translated poorly, and when it comes to reading item or ability descriptions, that can be a problem.The voice acting is clunky, too. But as it’s an early access game, we’ll have to wait for the full release to see if these issues get fixed. The developers are actively working on this one, and according to their roadmap, look to be doing the final polishing next month.
That’s great, because I can’t wait to see what the finished product looks like. Conglomerate 451 is a fun dungeon crawler. It’s not as strategically deep as some, but it certainly scratches that cyberpunk itch. While its early access version is rough around the edges, it might end up meeting its true potential when it releases sometime next month—if it stays on schedule, that is.
Conglomerate 451 is available right now on Steam early access.
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