A massive sci-fi tower, a terrorist incident and a dramatic rooftop insertion all while the clock ticks down. It's like a sci-fi Die Hard, but very few games give equal weight to action hero dramatics or the option of sauntering up to one of your targets, striking up a conversation, stripping off your armor and surrendering with the intent of negotiating your way out later. Consortium: The Tower offers that rare freedom, and its first few hours of branching adventure are available on Steam Early Access now after a successful crowdfunding drive on Tim Schafer’s funding network, Fig.
Has the promise of high-tech espionage got you interested in Consortium? Here's some other sneaky classics while you wait.
The current Early Access version - the result of over a year of development - is mechanically near-complete, with all the core gameplay systems and engine features locked down. In terms of content, what you get if you put your money down now is access to the first third or so of the story, across a variety of permutations, which developers Interdimensional Games Inc estimate will take you around 6-7 hours to chew through. The final release is expected to be another 8-15 months off. A broad window, but depending on sales and feedback, plans can be adjusted and the scope of the final release altered.
I’ve always been fond of the idea of videogames as Choose Your Own Adventure scenarios. A story that plays out over a short period of time, in a single location, but with a huge number of choices and branches allowing for experimentation, replay and understanding. While there have been some games to experiment with this idea such as the Obsidian’s reactive spy-RPG Alpha Protocol, the original Consortium (released 2014) fully committed to this concept even if the developers neither had the time nor expertise to really stick the landing. With a little over $300,000 in funding some room to breathe, the odds look a lot better for The Tower.
The sequel already looks significantly more polished than the original, even if the art style is intentionally light on texture detail. The number of clear (and less obvious) options presented within the first couple minutes of play dwarf anything in the original title, and with Deus Ex seemingly put out to pasture, Arkane’s Prey not the commercial hit that was hoped and System Shock Redux & 3 still some ways off, there’s definitely room for another big hit in the Immersive Sim sphere. Hopefully, Consortium: The Tower can grow to fill that space.
Consortium: The Tower is available to buy now via Steam Early Access for £19/$25.