Corruption 2029 won’t hold your hand, but that’s what makes it so satisfying.
Developed by The Bearded Ladies, Corruption 2029 has players engage in tough-as-nails tactical combat that mixes stealth and strategy using a squad of robotically enhanced soldiers. All of this takes place in an alternate world where America has descended into a new civil war, with each battle getting tougher than the last.
First things first: Corruption 2029 is all about the gameplay.
It doesn’t bother with long dialogue or big cutscenes, instead opting for a quick overview during the opening scene then throwing you straight into the action. Having been reactivated by an allied drone, you’ll quickly assume command of three soldiers each enhanced by robotics — to make them more efficient killing machines — moving through a small overworld that players can freely explore before entering combat. The only downside is the rather lacklustre graphics that, while high quality and well made, lacked any real colour or flair, blending together into a greyish blur most of the time with little to make anything really stand out.
It became clear quickly that Corruption 2029 isn’t trying to tell an engaging and rich story, seeing as its opening cutscene showed the most amount of development to the plot during my entire time playing. Although finding collectables and listening to the brief mission descriptions can offer an insight into the setting and the overall story, they normally amount to small blubs of text that delivers basically nothing to enrich the narrative or be particularly engaging.
Combat, on the other hand, offered a fair more rewarding experience.
Taking a page from games like XCOM, it uses the standard tactical turn-based combat that fans of the genre are all too familiar with, allowing you to move across the battlefield finding cover, using different weapons and equipment to complete mission objectives. Where Corruption 2029 differs, however, is the use of an overworld, where players can move freely around an area, feeling more like a dungeon crawler as they set up and prepare for each new battle. Troop customization adds an extra bit of depth to how you approach each mission you undertake.
Augments and weapons can be unlocked through completing side missions, nitro shots to freeze enemies and leaping huge distances in a single bound just to name a few. These, as well as new weapons like shotguns that knockback enemies, and sniper rifles with extra long-range, allow for all kinds of bold and diverse strategies that players can explore, with each offering its own rewarding gameplay and challenges. It’s these simple yet brilliant additions to gameplay that allows your tactical mind to run wild, letting you set up your soldiers any way you see fit.
All of this tactics-based gameplay is further enhanced by the use of a rather simple but effective stealth system, in which players can become invisible at the cost of movement speed. This allows them to sneak around enemy units easily and set up items like explosive mines to more effectively dismantle the enemy troops. The introduction of this mechanic makes combat feel so much more varied, letting you silently take out units without detection, or surrounding a group of soldiers to quickly eliminate them, It’s the addition of these open areas, free movement, and stealth that give Corruption 2029 a unique and fresh approach to tactical based combat, and it’s all the better for it.
Of course, much like its genre sharing buddies, Corruption 2029 doesn’t hold your hand.
I played on the normal difficulty and even at the recommended difficulty, it wasted no time chewing me up and spitting me back out. Enemy AI has clearly been made to punish your mistakes, as they would flank and surround me with ease for the slightest misstep, and putting me in tricky situations that sometimes proved too challenging to overcome… leading me to reload a fair few times, much to my dismay. Although sometimes incredibly frustrating, it never felt too unfair; if I got into a dire situation, it was more often than not my fault to begin with.
The tactical genre has not always been the most welcoming, and even with easy to read UI and a decent amount of tutorials; Corruption 2029 is no exception. Players unfamiliar with tactical games may have a hard time adjusting to the slower-paced gameplay and amounts of planning required, it requires patience; something I had very little of at the time. But, despite this somewhat daunting learning curb, taking the time to learn the core fundamentals of the tactical genre can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and if you give it some time you’ll find its makes for a much more rewarding gameplay experience as you become more and more adept at planning and using your team and skills to their full potential.
The Bearded Ladies have spared no expense in making a firm but fair experience. Despite its lack of story, Corruption 2029 offers a rich and varied gameplay experience that will have you thinking like a seasoned tactician if you give it time. It may not be for everyone, but for those willing, it’s more than worth the price of admission.