Corruption 2029 is a turn-based tactics game made by the developers of Mutant Year Zero. Despite recycled assets and mechanics, the game still manages to be fun enough and properly justify its price tag.
The Bearded Ladies delivered Corruption 2029 just two years after Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. Considering the latter was ported to Nintendo Switch just over half a year before the former's release, you could think the studio wouldn't have enough time to deliver a proper new game that would be worth getting into.
You would probably be right but Corruption 2029 is not an entirely new game. It is set in a different universe and has different visuals but there are recycled content and mechanics at every step and through two out of three major parts of the game - story, gameplay and graphics.
While not exactly glamorous, recycling is probably also the reason why developers managed to create a product that is well worth the price of admission in such a short timespan.
Corruption 2029's story is the only major part of the game that has not been recycled from Mutant Year Zero. Coincidentally, it is also the game's weakest point as it's minimalistic at best. One of the reasons for this is that the plot is extremely simple and not really engaging until the second act as I just droned through the missions for the fun of beating AI in a turn-based game while not being excited to find out what part of the story unravels next.
The subsequent plot twists are mildly shocking and nothing spectacular but combined with the rest of the story told through the mission briefing and the bits of lore picked up during missions, they manage to get the job done.
While on the topic of the actors - there are no cutscenes, my squad didn't speak at all outside of generic reactions to the commands I issued and the only actual actors that actually spoke and drove the plot anywhere were the two superior officers that gave me the mission briefs. The plot felt detached and I felt like I was simply an accessory, rather than being actively engaged.
Then again, since the whole premise is that soldiers are glorified drones in Corruption 2029, the folks that were in charge of the story may have really hit the nail on the head.
However, when I beat the game, I was greeted with the generic post-mission screen and a small "cutscene" where the two actors exchanged words and left me with a generic cliffhanger.
Still, while the story is not something I will remember for years to come, it is not explicitly bad either and managed to keep me mildly curious in the later parts of the game.
Corruption 2029 gameplay is where The Bearded Ladies' recycling skills made Tetra Pak jealous. Everything feels like a reskin of Mutant Year Zero. That said, this is not necessarily a bad thing since the adventures of Selma, Dux and Bormin were fun themselves.
Gameplay mechanics are largely the same as in Mutant Year Zero. Shot accuracy RNG is a brilliant example of how Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V functions. Each unit can have zero, 25, 50, 75 or 100 per cent chance to hit a unit and there is nothing between. Low cover detracts 25 per cent chance from getting a successful hit, high cover 75. It is all copy-pasted so if you played MYZ, you know what Corruption 2029 feels like.
Even the abilities are the same, with some minor variations at times. For example, soldiers in Corruption 2029 will not grow wings to fly around but they can get augmented legs and jump like Mario, if he found a stash of magic white dust in one of those pipes.
On the other hand, if you didn't experience Mutant Year Zero before, you are in for a treat.
I found it to be extremely fun to play through the seven maps across 18 missions and pull all kinds of sneaky stunts to weaken the enemies' strength before attacking them openly. After that, I was able to weave combos that would obliterate the enemy units, including the beefy ones that could sustain a full round of conventional fire.
In one of the more interesting examples, I used my unit with the shotgun to sneak up behind an enemy on a balcony and the shot sent it flying down into its buddies below. Since this one had armour and a lot of health, it survived both the shot and the fall but was then mowed down by my second unit that killed them all with the minigun. Occasions where such combos happened and were needed occurred more than rarely, which provided a lot of fun on a regular basis.
Remember when I said there are seven maps and 18 missions in total? Yeah, that means the game recycled itself as well. I played several times through each of these maps. Story-wise, this makes sense since the squad is stranded behind enemy lines in an area where things look pretty much the same but justification that would entirely excuse the lack of variety doesn't really exist.
Furthermore, there are several glaring issues that are dragging the otherwise highly engaging gameplay down. The first one that comes to mind is that camera controls are much more restricted than in other turn-based tactics or RPG games, regardless of whether you are playing on a gamepad or mouse and keyboard, which can degrade the experience at times.
There is no way to use abilities while sneaking around unless you pretend to engage in combat and trick the game into letting you use the super jump or the agility implant to scale buildings. Normally, this wouldn't be that much of an issue but you can't engage the Ambush mode without having an enemy unit nearby so if you want to approach them from the opposing side of the building, you are going to have a bad time.
Aiming cone shots, like the ones with shotgun or minigun can be a pain if the units are above the ground. For some reason, the cone tends to be aimed down and sometimes it was really hard to get my soldier's weapon to hit an enemy that was literally standing next to him.
These issues, among others, definitely need ironing out in a post-launch patch but while they dragged the gameplay experience down, they are not game-breaking and I still had fun obliterating the NAC troops. The 15 or so hours I spent wading through the three acts were definitely not wasted and are an experience I would like to remember in the future which is already much more than what can be said for the story.
Completionists will definitely sink in even more time into the game as it offers additional "medals" which are basically achievements for pulling great feats in missions, such as eliminating everyone in two combat turns or less.
Despite not being cel-shaded to the extent of Borderlands, Mutant Year Zero leaned more towards comic book graphics while Corruption 2029 strives toward realism in all visual areas. It does so beautifully, as you can see from the screenshots and the game is just drop-dead gorgeous for someone like me. Naturally, there are bound to be players who might not be fascinated with Corruption 2029's looks as much as I am but there is no denying it looks delightful.
The autumn theme is present through the entire game, possibly even referencing the perilous time the humankind is facing and it fits perfectly. While these beautiful parts are not copied from Mutant Year Zero, the user interface is.
Health bars, action bars, objective pointers and command bar are all recycled from Mutant Year Zero with only minor alterations added. They all fit well into Corruption 2029's theme and will not bother new players but those who played MYZ will notice and possibly be vexed by this at every turn.
Corruption 2029 is a game full of eye candy that is not just straight-up ripped from a previous title and is complemented by gameplay filled to the brim with compelling abilities and even passive bonuses from the implants. The parts that drag it down are the mediocre story and the obvious recycling of both MYZ and the new content while a few quality of life improvements would do wonders for the gameplay that I already liked as it is.
While you might not approve of content recycling in video games, do remember that Corruption 2029 offers its best sides at one-third of the price of a AAA game and therefore it would be unfair to judge it the same way.
With that said, the two main questions are still lingering in the air - is Corruption 2029 worth your time and money?
Considering that the high points provide a lot of fun through gameplay and great visual stimulation while even the glaring issues are not nearly as bad those we routinely see in regularly priced AAA games, I would say the game is well worth the purchase and all the time you sink into it.
AltChar score: 7/10