The first time you load up Consortium on your PC, you are likely to notice immediately that it seems like a Mass Effect clone. All the elements are there - the dynamic response system, long sections of gameplay with nothing more than dialogue and the entire intergalactic space crew setting in general.
However, this isn't just a blatant copy of the classic BioWare game. While it has some familiar elements, Consortium has a few things of its own going on. You are Bishop Six, an enforcer in the ranks of a military that for some strange reason chooses to name its members after chess pieces. In keeping with the theme of the game, you will interact with your crew who have colorful names such as Pawn 2 and Rook 3 and help them to solve murders, navigate diplomatic situations and occasionally indulge in a gunfight or two.
The scope of the game's story is ambitious and it features various nations with their own militaries that all work for a central organization. As the player, you will be able to get inside the heads of several different people, often from different timelines and alternate realities. While this may sound a bit like Desmond's adventures inside the Assassin's Creed franchise, the game quickly develops a personality of its own. The most fascinating aspect of the gameplay is the interactions you will have with the various NPCs that populate the universe. Conversations flow much like they would in real life and waiting too long to reply might be construed as a sign of arrogance. You have the freedom to handle conversations as diplomatically or bluntly as you please. While the graphics are sadly dated, the authentic dialogue and responses that the various characters produce lend a surprising degree of authenticity to their characters. The fact that the voice cast is uniformly excellent helps in selling the illusion even more. Occasionally, you will find the speaking mannerisms of a heretofore confident character waver in the face of an unexpected or tragic plot development.
The Game Play:
The ship that all of these characters populate has a personality of its own, and you will find yourself navigating the different corridors and rooms by instinct after you've spent a certain amount of time playing. There's plenty of room for exploration since there are three decks and all of them have their own separate functions and personnel. Since you won't be spending any time on the ground during this game, having a location as varied as your ship helps to stave off the monotony. During your many quests of exploration and problem solving, you will be able to enjoy a stellar score composed by Jeremy Soule who previously worked on the Guild Wars and Elder Scrolls games.
The game also features some first-person combat, although it does come off as a bit bland and uninspired. Luckily, you have the option to avoid combat entirely by carefully choosing your words to keep sticky situations at bay. During the few times that you do engage in actual fights, you will have a generic assortment of weapons to slay the baddies. The game encourages you to solve problems through diplomacy and that is where its true strength lies. Unfortunately, an otherwise enjoyable role-playing experience is marred by frequent bugs and crashes. Developers Interdimensional Games might release a patch soon to fix the issues since a lot of players on Steam are already complaining about the game freezing at random points. They already have a post on their website acknowledging the issues the game has.
Consortium offers up some interesting gameplay during its short single-player campaign. Experienced players will be able to complete the game in around five to six hours. However, the option to revisit certain conversations and see how events would play out if you did something different will keep players revisiting the game after they've finished it once. The game features some great writing and voice acting. As soon as the developers manage to fix the unfortunate bugs the game has, it will be easier to recommend.