The Corruption Within is a first-person point-and-click adventure game by Cosmic Void (Aviv Salinas) and Dave Seaman where you play Samuel, a man looking for his wife and children after they vanished during a camping trip. Set during the Victorian era. A psychological thriller, players must explore a mysterious nearby mansion for the whereabouts of Samuel’s family, interviewing its strange inhabitants and solving the puzzle of the story behind the house.
When Samuel goes looking for his missing family, he comes across a mansion by a moon-lit lake, run by an aristocrat family and their servants. Some will refuse to talk, some will intentionally mislead you, and some want to help Samuel in his search for his family. You must find out what makes them tick if you want to get the right information from them. Finding out what happened to his family will also unearth the secrets behind the mansion itself and the strange events which have transpired there over the years.
The storyline of The Corruption Within is intriguing with plenty of twists and turns to keep it interesting. You’ll come across its sketchy inhabitants, some of which don’t want to share anything with you, and others who have just gotten mixed in with it all and are desperate enough to see Samuel as an escape. I walked into the game completely blind, so I had no idea what to expect. Asides from the odd cliché here and there (such as the maid with the cockney accent which only comes out when she’s stressed), The Corruption Within is relatively well written which is hugely important for a text-based adventure game such as this. Unfortunately, the game opens with a narration which feels quite awkward as the voice acting isn’t the best, but luckily this only takes place during the opening and closing narration as the rest of game’s story is carried through text.
The text-based story is complemented by the amazing pixel-style graphics brought to life with a custom colour palette. Each scene is detailed enough to paint the picture needed and the characters are also well designed, each with their own unique look. The only downside to this detail is that sometimes the text descriptions of objects are a little over the top, though this is to be expected from a retro-style adventure game.
The Corruption Within has simple controls which are easy to use: you simply use your mouse or the WASD keys to move in the directions available. Selecting an object will bring up a description for it, and sometimes Samuel will pick something up or take the time to explore it further. You can access your inventory using the space bar, and can then select the item you want to use. You can also use your mouse to select dialogue or decision options which can impact the ending of the game.
Despite its simplicity, The Corruption Within isn’t an easy game. Some of the puzzles had me genuinely scratching my head, as you are given very little guidance on how to complete them. You’ll even find yourself struggling to work out what key you need to open up the next part of the story, which reminded me very much of the original Resident Evil. The challenge was a welcome addition to the game, as it didn't offer any handholding and instead encourages the player to work things out for themselves, just as Samuel would.
Accompanying you on your journey is Eric Galluzzo’s brilliant score. The Corruption Within’s kickstarter campaign mentioned putting aside some of the budget for an OST and this was definitely the right choice, as without the music, exploring the mansion and its grounds would have felt empty and lifeless. There’s plenty of variation within the music to keep it interesting, as well as keeping some tracks for certain rooms or situations to help build familiarity with them.
The Corruption Within only takes around three to four hours to complete, which is plenty of time for a retro-style adventure game. Throughout the game, you can come across up to six decision scenarios which can affect the ending of the game; exploring thoroughly will give you a better chance of finding all six scenarios. I only managed to achieve five, which entices me to try again to look for that sixth and final one. I did wish that dialogue options impacted the conversations a little more, but these decision scenarios offered plenty of moments where your choices could affect the game.
Overall, The Corruption Within was great fun to play. It’s short but incredibly sweet and has a story which keeps you compelled throughout. Although it does have a few flaws, these would be nitpicks of what is otherwise a fun game to play which offered plenty of challenge and ran relatively smoothly. This is why I would recommend The Corruption Within.