A little over a year ago I took a look at the indie game Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and later last year I checked out its first DLC Seed of Evil. I thought Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden would be good, but it surpassed my expectations as it was a fantastic X-COM style tactical strategy game with a really interesting world to explore. When I heard that The Bearded Ladies had a new game out I was really excited to try it out as I really enjoyed their previous games. Their newest game is Corruption 2029 which seemed like it was a lot like the Mutant Year Zero series. Corruption 2029 shares a lot in common with Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and even if it never reaches the same level as its predecessor it still is a highly entertaining tactical strategy game.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank The Bearded Ladies for the review copy of Corruption 2029 used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
Corruption 2029 takes place in the United States in the not to distant future. The country has been torn apart by civil war between two factions. You are in control of a squad of commandos as you try to bring peace to a world ravaged by fighting. As a mysterious corruption threatens everything you must hunt down the evil forces responsible.
In Corruption 2029 you control a group of three augmented soldiers/robots. At the beginning of each mission you are dropped into a zone which is filled with hostile forces. Like Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden the game is a mixture of real-time and turn-based combat. You will begin by playing in real-time as you explore and sneak around the enemy forces. You use this mostly to check out the environment and pick off enemies that are by themselves. When you are ready to attack you engage the battle mode and the game switches to the turn-based mechanics. This mode is broken down into turns. For each turn each of your units are given two action points. These can be used to move, shoot your weapons, use grenades, or use the other abilities that you have equipped to your units. When shooting at enemies your chance of success depends on the positioning and distance between the two units with a little luck involved if you aren’t in a position that guarantees success. After all three of your characters have made their moves the enemies that are still alive and alert get an opportunity to move and attack. The objective of combat is to destroy all of the alert enemies which will return you to the real-time stealth/exploration mode.
For people who have played Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden this should sound familiar. Corruption 2029 basically took Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, tweaked a few things, and added a new coat of paint. I would say that 90+% of the gameplay in Corruption 2029 is the same as the Mutant Year Zero series. This is not a bad thing as I really enjoyed the Mutant Year Zero series. I point this out though since those who have played Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden should already have a good idea of what to expect out of Corruption 2029. Outside of a few tweaks the gameplay is exactly the same. This means that your opinion of Mutant Year Zero will likely carry over to Corruption 2029 as well. The gameplay remains as enjoyable as Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and fans of that game should also enjoy the combat in Corruption 2029. Those who didn’t like Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden’s gameplay probably won’t change their opinion for Corruption 2029.
So what is different between the two games? Well the story/theme/atmosphere are obviously different. I would say that the biggest difference between the two games though is the fact that Corruption 2029 is more of a mission focused game. I would say that Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden was more of a journey as you made your way through the environment looking for answers. Meanwhile Corruption 2029 is focused entirely on completing missions. You are given a set of missions to choose from. Instead of traveling from location to location to get to a final destination, you choose a mission and are then dropped into the corresponding location to complete those objectives. This change of focus is both a positive and negative for the game.
I would say that the biggest benefit of the change to a mission based structure is the fact that you no longer have to worry about being backed into a corner. In Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden the game was a continuing experience. Unless you played on the easiest difficulty any damage you took would stay with the characters until you used a medkit to heal it. The medkits in the game were limited as you found some in the environment but otherwise you had to use your scrap to buy them. Having to buy medkits prevented you from purchasing other helpful equipment. This made you cautious about using medkits, grenades and other one time use items as you didn’t want to waste them. If you took too much damage or misused your items you could back yourself into a corner that would be hard to get out of.
With the addition of missions this is no longer an issue. Each mission is for the most part standalone. All damage received in a mission is healed before your next mission. If you fail a mission you can just restart it. Doing bad in one battle no longer puts you in a bad position for the rest of the game. There is no need to hoard items any longer. First you no longer buy equipment or items. Instead you find medkits and grenades in the environment. The need to hoard them is gone as the game limits you to only three of each item. This encourages you to use them instead of hoarding them as you will end up leaving extras in a level that you won’t be able to pick up. The game doesn’t give you a ton of items but at least in the early game I would regularly encounter grenades and medkits that I couldn’t take because I was already holding the max number. I think this was a good change as you don’t have to worry that a previous mistake is going to hurt you for the rest of the game. If you don’t like how well you did in a mission you could always replay it to improve your performance.
Instead of picking up a bunch of scrap to buy better guns and equipment the game instead rewards you for completing various objectives. Each mission has a number of different objectives to complete. First are the main objective(s) which you need to complete to finish the level. Completing a level usually rewards you with a weapon or an upgrade that you can apply to one of your units. In the game you can equip to each unit two different weapons as well as three unit upgrades which either give a passive stat boost or give the character a special ability. Then there are side objectives that you can complete. These objectives are not required but they will reward you with additional equipment to use in future fights. Finally there are various challenges you can complete which give you medals. These put certain requirements on how you beat the mission like having to get a number of silent kills, get a number of kills with a specific weapon, killing all of the enemies within a certain number of turns, or completing the mission without using special abilities.
Having the game focus on missions might not seem like it drastically changes the gameplay, but it seems to have made the game easier. I haven’t completed the game yet but so far it seems like Corruption 2029 is considerably easier than Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. Each difficulty honestly feels like it is a level lower than it was in the previous game. For example the medium difficulty feels like easy and so on. At times the game feels a little too easy but Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden also felt a little too hard at times. If you want more of a challenge you can always just raise the difficulty.
I think part of the reason that the game is easier is that Corruption 2029 gives players more options of whether they want to play stealthily or more run and gun. In Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden you were pretty much forced into using stealth to pick off enemies on the fringes. If you went in guns blazing you would usually be killed pretty quickly. While you should still probably pick off stragglers in Corruption 2029, it is not as important as you can win in a face to face fight. If you position your units well you can win a fight when you are quite outnumbered. Basically if you can sneak yourself to a high point with cover you can then initiate combat and shoot at the enemies as they close in on your location. While this makes the game easier I like the change as it gives you more choices. You aren’t forced into being stealthy like the previous game. This means that tactical strategy can play a bigger role rather than just sneaking up on enemies and picking them off one by one.
I liked the swap to missions for a lot of reasons but it leads to arguably the biggest problem that I had with Corruption 2029. One thing I really enjoyed about Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden was that it felt like you were on a journey. Most of the gameplay revolved around exploring new locations. The only reason to revisit a location was to pick up items/scrap that you missed and to kill off the remaining enemies. In Corruption 2029 the game requires you to regularly revisit the same areas. The number, type, and location of units are different but the locations are basically exactly the same every time you visit them. You will visit the same locations a lot. In the first set of missions I think I visited one area at least three different times. While the combat is still fun, it is not as enjoyable when you already know where all the good hiding/high points are located. The missions felt a little repetitive after a while. It just felt like I was doing slightly different things in the same areas over and over again.
Adding to this is the fact that I just didn’t find the story and atmosphere to be as good as I hoped. One of the things that I really liked about Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is that it had a lot of character. The world was interesting and the characters were entertaining. The world was something that I really wanted to explore. I just never got that feeling while playing Corruption 2029 as its story and overall atmosphere doesn’t compare to Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. The story and atmosphere are not bad but it just felt like a pretty generic futuristic story. There is nothing particularly distinguishing about the characters, story, or locations. The story is fine but it doesn’t really drive the game forward.
As for length as I mentioned earlier I have not completed the game yet so I don’t have a definitive length. I would say that the game is likely to be pretty long though. The game is broken down into a number of major missions with five or so minor missions having to be completed in order to attempt the major mission. On top of this the addition of various objectives to the missions adds quite a bit of replay value to the game. The side objectives are usually pretty easy to complete. The challenges can be quite hard though as they really dictate how you must approach the fight. Some of these challenges seem to be contradictory as well so you may have to play a mission several times in order to receive all of the medals. Unless the game ends unexpectedly I would be surprised if you wouldn’t get your money’s worth out of the game.
In a lot of ways Corruption 2029 is what you would expect out of the developer of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. Corruption 2029 basically uses all of the same mechanics after all. The game still features the blend of turn-based strategy combat with a stealth exploration mechanic. These mechanics are still as enjoyable as they were so fans of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden should really enjoy Corruption 2029’s gameplay as well. The main difference between the two games is that there is a greater emphasis on individual missions in this game. Instead of a long journey the game is broken up into different missions. This makes some changes to the gameplay as mistakes in previous missions won’t come back to bite you later in the game. Each mission has a set of different objectives which guide you towards approaching combat in different ways. The game also doesn’t force players to always be stealthy as you can hold your own in a fire fight. All of this does make the game a little easier though. The main problem with Corruption 2029 though is that the game can become repetitive as you will be visiting the same locations over and over again. The story and atmosphere are also kind of generic.
If you played Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and never really cared for the gameplay Corruption 2029 is unlikely to change your mind. People who don’t like turn-based tactical strategy games also probably won’t like the game. Fans of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden or tactical strategy games in general should really enjoy their time with Corruption 2029 though. For these people I would highly recommend picking up the game.
Purchase Corruption 2029 online: Epic Games Store