Consortium: The Tower debuts on Steam Early Access

The "sci-fi immersive simulation" Consortium: The Tower pulled in nearly $350,000 in funding on Fig last year, and earlier this summer dropped a "production update" trailer showcasing the "leaps and bounds" progress that had been made since. Now you can try it out for yourself, if you're so inclined, as the "alpha v.10" version has been released onto Steam Early Access

Bear in mind, if you're thinking of buying, that the "alpha" descriptor sounds accurate. "This game is far from being completed. We’re a tiny team with zero traditional QA resources, and our game has yet to be subjected to a large number of hardware and software configurations," developer Interdimensional Games wrote in the revision history. (Earlier builds have been available to Fig backers, so even though this is the "first" release there is a history in play.) "You might very well find crashes, bugs and immersion breaking issues. We deeply appreciate you diving in regardless, but we just want to warn you!"

Among the things that aren't as they should be are the front end, which "is currently a work in progress" and not entirely functional, and game saves. "Saving and Loading is still a relatively young feature. There may be minor discrepancies between the world you remember before saving, and the world you get after loading it," the studio wrote. "We would love to hear about any and all problems you get from saving and loading. That said it is working pretty well and is fully functional." 

The Early Access release covers roughly the first third of the game, totaling 6-7 hours of gameplay. "It is extremely non-linear and largely driven by gamer exploration and gameplay choices. This means there is a very large variety of custom paths through all of the content, and an unprecedented amount of replayability," Interdimensional explained. "You will encounter bugs and unfinished bits, and with your help over the course of our time on Early Access all bugs will be squashed, performance will be improved and new content will be made available." 

The original Consortium was released in 2014 and was impressive in a lot of ways, although it was probably too ambitious for its own good (and its budget). But If Consortium: The Tower can build on the lessons learned from that project, it could turn out to be a very good, small-scale Deus Ex-style experience. Interdimensional expects it will be in Early Access for anywhere from 8-15 months, and said that the price ($25/£19/€23) will be increased "as additional content and features are brought online."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.