Review – The Corruption Within
I always have a soft spot for retro-styled point-and-click adventure games. That’s not too surprising for someone who grew up playing Sierra’s King’s Quest games and the Monkey Island games from Lucasarts. So whenever I happen to come across one, I’m usually pretty eager to check it out. The Corruption Within from Cosmic Void and Dave Seaman recently caught my attention with it’s pixelated art style and creepy premise. What I experienced was a bit of a mixed bag.
As I’ve mentioned, the premise is really interesting. The Corruption Within is a point-and-click psychological horror game with gothic horror overtones. Set in England during the Victorian era, you are enjoying a holiday camping trip when your wife and two children go missing. Since you’re deep within the woods with no civilization around for miles, you desperately search for anyone you can find. That’s when you stumble upon a dead body in the forest.
Nearby this shocking find, you discover a great mansion beside a lake. With no other options, you approach the manor and ask for help. However, it seems as though the owners and the staff have secrets of their own. How far will you go to save your family?
The story is very intriguing and kept me captivated the whole way through. Although, I did feel like the wife and children were barely fleshed out, which is surprising considering they’re your driving motivation for the game. There are quite a few characters in The Corruption Within, and I felt like I understood each one of them better than my own family. There’s a surprising amount of depth and complexity to the rest of the characters, which I wasn’t expecting.
Unfortunately, the ending felt pretty rushed. You spend a lot of time uncovering mysteries in this eerily atmospheric adventure, only to have the big reveal come on rather abruptly, followed by a crazy amount of exposition dumps. It feels like the developers were running out of time and money, and just decided to cut it short. And for a game that only takes about two hours to beat, that’s saying something.
As far as the gameplay, this is your classic point-and-click adventure in which you move by clicking the directional buttons on the bottom of the screen and interact with whatever objects you can. The inventory system is a bit odd though, as you’re not able to combine any of your items together, even when you know it’s needed. Instead, you’ll have to choose one of the necessary items and use it on the intended object. If there are more than one of the items in your inventory needed to get past an obstacle, the game will automatically do it for you upon using it. It’s not a terrible mechanic, just a bit unusual and a tad irritating until you realize the game will do it for you.
However, the most frustrating aspect of The Corruption Within is the way the puzzles are designed. By this, I don’t mean that they are overly difficult. In fact, none of them are tough at all and the solutions do make sense. The biggest problem is the amount of backtracking most of them require. The majority of the puzzles will involve you investigating everything (multiple times), finding the right person to speak to, going back to where you were to retrieve an item for them, returning to that person who will then either give you an object or unlock something, then once again heading back to where you first started. It quickly feels tedious.
Then there’s the fact that you can’t pick up certain items until you’ve progressed far enough in the story to need them. There were several times I knew how to get past a certain obstacle and tried using the required item, only to have the game tell me there was no reason to do that action. Then after having a quick conversation with someone, I was sent right back to that area and low and behold the tool worked. Having the game set up this way made large parts of it feel monotonous and cumbersome.
Although, I will give The Corruption Within credit where credit is due. Both the art and sound designs are wonderful. It has a low-res pixel art style that’s very reminiscent of the classic point-and-click adventures from the 80s and 90s. It even kept the 4:3 aspect ratio, which I personally enjoyed. I know that can be a turn off for some people, but I really think it fit the game well. My only complaint is that the map isn’t terribly large, so you’ll frequently revisit the same few screens over and over. There’s a fair amount of detail in what’s there and they did a fantastic job of creating a creepy, moody atmosphere. I just loved it so much that I wanted to see more.
I was genuinely surprised by The Corruption Within‘s sound design. There’s not much voice acting, only the narration at the beginning, but what’s there is fairly decent. The soundtrack sets the tone perfectly with its dark ominous score. What really impressed me though were the sound effects. From the footsteps echoing on wooden floors, the creaking of rusted hinged opening, to the sound of a rope stretching and swinging a lifeless body, everything sounded believable. The music and the sound effects added to the tension and provided a looming sense of dread around every corner.
The Corruption Within might have its flaws, but I’d still recommend it to anyone who likes classic point-and-click adventure games. It is short, only taking about two hours to beat while getting all the achievements, but it’s an engaging ride while it lasts. There are also a few different decisions you can make along the way that will affect the outcome of the very end of the game. The main story remains the same, but the epilogues are pretty varied, giving it some replayablity. The puzzles can be tedious from all the backtracking, but the story is compelling enough to keep you invested through the end. For the low price tag of only $10, it’s well worth the journey.
It features an older pixelated art style, reminiscent of the classic point-and-adventures from the 80s and 90s.
Even though it’s a point-and-click game, the puzzles and inventory system leave little to be desired.
The sound design is excellent, with a wonderfully ominous soundtrack and fantastic sound effects.
Despite the short length and frustrating puzzle requirements, I still enjoyed The Corruption Within. The story is intriguing enough to keep you invested through its conclusion.
Final Verdict: 6.5
The Corruption Within is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC with an i7-9700k, RTX 2070, and 16gb DDR4 RAM.
A copy of The Corruption Within was provided by the publisher.