Title: Corruption 2029
Developer: The Bearded Ladies
Release Date: February 17, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: The Bearded Ladies
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
The turn-based strategy genre has seen some exciting additions to its core systems over the years. This is mainly due to the number of developers taking on the genre and introducing new ideas. Among this group is developer The Bearded Ladies, who have found ways to weave exploration and tactical gameplay to tell a narrative. They bring these skills their newest title, Corruption 2029, which focuses on stealth gameplay through a war-torn world.
Corruption 2029 is set during America’s second civil war, where technology plays a pivotal role on the battlefield. Soldiers have barely any humanity left as their limbs are replaced by cyborg augmentations to enhance their abilities. Two factions fight to control the nation, the “NAC” (New American Council), and the “UPA” (United People of America). After years of conflict, once human soldiers are now controlled like drones in this new age of warfare.
I appreciated the ways that the narrative makes it easy to understand how players have control over each unit from a remote station. The detail that went into building this war-torn world makes it easy to understand what’s at stake if you lose, but it’s never easy to view your units as chess pieces instead of actual people. These parallels are what will drive you through the adventure, which begs to be unpacked.
Corruption 2029 seems to be an accumulation of the experience that the developer has gained in the genre. Players will notice similarities between the titles, but the tactical elements are still just as solid. The militarized setting and highly futurized weaponry add a layer of science fiction fantasy, but the game’s themes are kept grounded in comparison to their previous works.
Players control the squad in real-time moving units during their turn. Units can move as a group or be individually placed around the map for a strategical advantage. There are two approaches to encountering enemies, using a hard upfront resistance or a stealth ambush, where enemies fall without even knowing what hit them. The stealth elements of the game are encouraged, as many of the skills and abilities revolve around getting through combat and taking the least amount of damage.
In the beginning, your squad is equipped with an invisibility feature that allows a preemptive position. Enemies have a radius that they can sense your active team. Therefore stealth takeovers through using melee aren’t possible. Still, this is by far the most exciting and fun aspect of the gameplay. Being able to move around the field and choose the perfect spot for your team to activate the Ambush mode at a specific moment is so satisfying.
Other futuristic gear available for your team, extends the studio’s creativity. This includes a protective laser dome around your chosen soldier, protecting him for a turn, or the ability to leap jump across the map. These small but unique abilities allow players to take on missions in interesting ways.
Teamwork plays a considerable role during gameplay as each unit comes together to form an attack plan. As the game progresses, more options become available, for both those who enjoy silent takedowns with silencers to those who prefer the loud bangs of a widespread and powerful grenade. Weapons have booster packs for increased damage, and augmented implants improve the performance of units.
Side missions are used to fill in any fine details left out of the narrative of the main campaign. These small story bits are also found in intel around the levels and do well to flesh out the state of the world if players require that extra layer of detail. There are also additional challenges available to sink time into for added replayability, which I enjoyed.
Each main mission presents a primary and secondary objective, along with a few challenges. Don’t worry if you can’t complete them; you can always try again with your full power arsenal and extra Intel later in the game. The A.I opponents react accordingly depending on my tactical decisions, and they only get tougher to deal with on greater difficulties. While the game is accessible to newcomers to the genre, seasoned SRPG fans will have a better time getting used to the aggro opponents. I was surprised to see how well developed each difficulty tier was. If you still think it’s too hard, use the Save-Game function as much as you like to begin right at that point if you die.
While the game’s narrative and system shine during gameplay, the same cannot be said for the design. The levels are generic and come off repetitive as you fight your way across multiple battles. Sure, the flow within the world, but this design allowed me to utilize similar strategies during various maps, which made it seem like I was simply playing the same map over and over again. Still, the developer nailed the atmosphere of this adventure, which takes players through a dark and gritty futuristic world.
Corruption 2029 is a tactical RPG that requires players to take their time during encounters. Meticulous planning and strategy are vital to overcoming enemies, but it’s this speed of gameplay that might deter fans of more in-your-face approaches to combat. Still, the game’s narrative fits the atmosphere for an excellent adventure worth the price of entry.
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