Conglomerate 451 is something that caught my eye for two reasons. The first is that I absolutely love a good cyberpunk and the other is that I absolutely love a good “old schooled” dungeon crawler. Granting me both, this currently in Early Access project is showing a lot of promise and I can’t wait to see the full version once the bugs have all been ironed out.
Other than having a neat name, it wasn’t until the opening cinematic that Conglomerate 451 made sense. Diving into the 451 Ward of the city of Conglomerate, it’s up to you to clone an army of soldiers in order to remove the corporations from its grounds. The idea of cloning your units fits the ideas behind this dungeon crawler much better than simply hiring a bunch of mercs to do the work. When you’re told that that human life is worth little more than the meat that you buy in a supermarket? Why would any merc take up that job?
So Conglomerate 451 has you take on two roles. The first, and the more principal one, is that of the Division leader that makes the big decisions. Which clones should be “bred”? Which missions should be undertaken? Which technological advancements should be researched or held off on? Each of these will affect how well your party of three fairs once you send them out the front door into violent territories.
Once out on the streets and looking for your goal, you’ll be moving your party in a first person mode, once space at a time. Moving smoothly, yet slowly enough as it is one space at a time, this old schooled style allows you to really take in and appreciate the neon colours and the cyberpunk vibes that the city has going on. While moving about, you’ll have the chance to explore the city a little bit, trade with merchants as long as your reputation is high enough, fight thugs out for your blood and hack terminals for a bonus of your choice if you’re successful.
Hacking was a bit neat. Given a line of code, you have to match it up to its identical partner that is moving through the terminals sub routines. Matching up the first will then bring about a second and then a third at the basic levels. I’m assuming that the harder the difficulty, the more lines that need to be matched. If you’ve managed to hack into the console, you’ll have the choice of several options as to what you want to do. Unlocking doors and showing the entire map are two very useful options especially when you’re either stuck on the other side of a locked door or aren’t sure where to go in order to start your mission.
Missions themselves are kind of neat. While technically starting the moment that you’ve been deployed from headquarters, they only really start once you managed to make it to the destination. Here’s the tricky part. Your team of three is basically on their own the second that you’ve left the front door. This means that if you keep getting into fights and your health is low, you may have a harder time in order to complete the actual mission especially if it’s a takedown requiring you to eliminate xth number of enemies.
To eliminate your enemies, you’ll be doing so in initiative based turns with you’ll whole party in one space and the enemies in front and able to move around. Starting off this didn’t feel fair until I realized that you can move your entire party back several spaces in order to make a buffer between you and them. Merging some other ideas in the mix, on top of the distance between you and the enemy, range plays a large factor in which abilities can be used and the percentage of chance that you have to hit. Having straight up to hit chances lets you know a bit more about what is a good idea and what isn’t.
While I didn’t mind the to hit chances on my enemies, what I really enjoyed was being able to choose where I wanted to hit them. You can target the head, chest, arms and legs. Each has its own chance to hit and regardless of where you’re hitting, if you do hit, you do damage and not just, from what I’ve seen, damage allocated to that body part. What I mean by this is that I’ve flat out taken out enemies shields and health by targeting their right leg since it was closest to be.
Finally, the one thing that I’ll gush a little about is that enemies may not immediately die once you’ve gotten rid of all of their hit points. Often times what will happen is that they’ll fall to the ground and have a chance of being helped back up or healed. This can cause a bit of a distraction to the rest and if they move in closer? That’s the perfect chance to blast them all with an area attack.
Now this isn’t to say that my time with Conglomerate 451 was perfect. There are bugs that can happen but the devs have been up front about it. I may have found a new one though as I got stuck on a mission where the only two people left that I could see to eliminate were so far away and on the other side of a space that I could not get to, that I had to quit the mission and conceded hard won influence back to the corporations that I had taken it from as there was literally no way forward as I couldn’t even ride the elevator back downstairs.