Corruption 2029, rather paradoxically, feels like it could be both a sequel and the first game in a franchise. It’s a game that builds on the work that was conducted before it but also feels thin enough that could be the first iteration of a series. That’s the strange limbo Corruption 2029 falls into because while it can be an exceptionally fun strategy game, the lower-budget elements are very noticeable.
Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but those more…slight elements tend to stand out far more when so much of the game addictively enthralling. Perhaps that’s a testament to how well designed the game is, that overlooking the weaker elements is much simpler because of how enjoyable the overall experience is but it would be remiss of me not to clarify that Corruption 2029 is through-and-through a turn-based tactics game and very little else. While the actual meat of the gameplay provides that satisfying hook of “chess with guns” that The Bearded Ladies did so well in their previous game Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, there’s very little else beyond that core loop. Which will either appeal to you or disappoint you.
If you’ve played Mutant Year Zero, you’ll know what to expect from Corruption 2029 to an extent that it could be accused of being too similar. The blend of real-time stealth and turn-based strategy is as satisfying as it was in Mutant, even more so in fact. A constant string of weapon unlocks and abilities keep the experience fresh as you explore the game’s three main missions. While some will no doubt enjoy the fact that the semi-open world of Mutant has been thrown out the window for a menu-based mission select screen. It speeds the game up and allows for a level of refinement to engaging in certain missions when you so choose. It’s a design decision made to focus in on the game’s mechanics over and above everything else, which will no doubt appeal to those who don’t want to deal with a silly story of warring factions in some kind of futuristic war. Corruption wants you to get into the action as fast as possible and to do that it’ll cut as many corners as it can.
There’s very little in the way of “bells and whistles” with the game, instead of focusing on what Mutant did so much better than anything else. There’s no story, no skill trees to upgrade, no main hub filled with characters spouting lines of exposition or lore at you. There’s just your three troops, your mission, and the abilities and equipment you’ll unlock by completing them. Again, some might appreciate this more direct approach but I’d be lying if I said the lack of these features didn’t disappoint me slightly. I know comparing Corruption 2029 to Mutant Year Zero isn’t exactly fair but they play similarly enough to where I feel a direct comparison is justified.
Corruption feels like a refinement via trimming off the features that weren’t exactly necessary to create a compelling strategy game, but they certainly helped. I can live without the world hub or the characters and story, yet I feel like some kind of progression system tailored to the individual troops would have gone miles to make Corruption 2029 just a little more memorable. I like a strategy game that emphasises the importance of the playable characters by either making them vulnerable and effective in certain situations over others or mechanically distinct enough to stand them out from the rest of the team.
The three core soldiers of Wolf, Tranter and Briggs are just faceless grunts to me. Maybe that’s the point, fitting in with the theme of wars being fought by controllable soldiers in the dystopian future of 2029 but from a gameplay perspective they did little for me.
That “blank slate” philosophy certainly carries over to the abilities and passive upgrades as your soldiers aren’t barred from taking specific traits allowing you to determine who’ll specialise in what rather the game making those decisions narratively. Yet it also makes them all a little generic in a sense. I suspect that Corruption 2029 was made for the person that isn’t me because the core mechanics and strategies present in the game are solid.
Throwing in things like distractions, programmable grenades and wider variety of mission types makes the game a far more tactical experience to The Bearded Ladies last foray into the genre yet I miss those features that pulled it all together into a game with…for want of a better word, flow. A game where the parts felt connected, linking the experience as a whole. Corruption doesn’t feel disjointed but it also doesn’t blend its systems as effectively.
Look, it’s worth mentioning that Corruption 2029 is being sold at a very good price for both the amount of content it offers and the type of game that it is. That being said, before you leap into the game, be aware that the experience is designed to do one thing and do that thing very well. It succeeds at that front but unfortunately cuts a lot of content that would have amplified that core experience even higher. I can’t exactly penalise it though given that it was very clearly the developer’s intention to do just that: Deliver a game that offered more the excellent combat and stealth offered up by Mutant Year Zero instead of focusing their energies on areas they felt weren’t necessary. That’s something I understand and respect – but I personally found it just a touch disappointing.
Last Updated: February 24, 2020