Conglomerate 451 (PC) Review (Early Access)
Authentic RPG experience
Massively detailed character building
Cyberpunk is a genre of science fiction that is a “combination of low-life and high tech.” Basically, it’s the darkest parts of society combined with tech so advanced it might as well be magic. Conglomerate 451 is a prime example of this genre, combining cloning, corruption, and corporate warfare into an authentic RPG experience. The corporations of sector 451 have turned it into a lawless wasteland, and the government has had enough. You have been charged with creating and running a new government agency whose sole purpose is to clean up and restore order to this sector. To do this you have given special permission to use battle clones, a new technology that allows you to create disposable and customizable soldiers to do your bidding. With the intense depth of customization and content, Conglomerate 451 plays more like a tabletop game than anything else.
Conglomerate 451 is divided into two sections, managing your soldiers and running missions. Soldiers are cloned from preset genetic profiles, classes, which you then assign abilities to that are unique to that class. Missions vary in type from exploration to assassination, but all have the ultimate goal of reducing the influence of corporations in the sector. Gameplay is ultimately circular. Completing missions award resources, which can be used to unlock and upgrade facilities, which in turn creates stronger soldiers, which allow you to complete harder missions that give greater rewards. That being said, the difference in quality between the two sections is quite astonishing. For all of the options that you have in designing your team the actual missions feel clunky and outdated. Camera angles are strictly first-person, with both movement and camera direction being only available in four directions. Also, despite being a three man team, actions are handled as if it were one person with three personas, significantly limiting strategy. However, developers still were able to give the full RPG experience making sure to include puzzles and traps in addition to combat.
Graphics also reflect the stark differences between the two sections. When designing your team, interfaces are clean and polished, with appropriate cutscenes and backgrounds. On the other hand, the mission side feels out of scale and flat. With level details resembling window dressings rather than anything real or interactable, and enemies appearing as an overlay rather than existing inside the level. Whether this was an intentional subtextual comment on a dual-leveled society or just a short-sighted error due to early access, it definitely detracts from what could be an awesome experience.
Conglomerate 451 has a lot of depth and detail. It plays like a digital version of a tabletop RPG, and that’s not a bad thing. While the actual action aspect of the game could use significant polish, it’s still in early access and has time to address them. If you are a fan of D&D, Shadowrun, or even Bladerunner, then give it a chance as it’s likely only going to get better.