Being evil is good in Corrupted

Review of Corrupted on XBLIG: Try
Be the bad guy in this action-adventure with RPG character-building elements.

Based on our previews here at GameMarx, Corrupted seems to be a game you either love or hate. The game marries a top-down, dual-stick control scheme with melee-heavy fighting, which feels a bit unnatural at first. However, after playing through the tutorial (be warned—you likely won’t get through it in a single 8-minute trial), the complexity of the game becomes apparent: there’s ranged attacks and various forms of crowd control. Characters level up in RPG fashion with three distinct skill trees—very useful considering four players can join in the action on the same XBox. And did I mention that you get to be the bad guy?

The premise starts out with a hooded fiend corrupting (up to) four knights, who are then sent off to raid castles and capture princesses (from which the fiend draws his power). It’s a fairly basic story—to be honest, I started skipping dialogue about halfway through—but it’s a good setup for an action-packed hack-and-slash.

The RPG system drew me to this game. It’s not too complex, but it does add customization. There are three categories of skills which improve Melee, Ranged, and elemental, crowd-controlling Corruption powers—meaning there are several distinct character builds available. Knights are also saved separately from games, which means that high-powered knight you leveled up in single-player can be thrown into a new multiplayer game.

The leveling element also provides a way to balance out the difficulty. After dying in a particular stage, I’d usually go back and grind through previous levels until I’d earned one or two new skill points. It didn’t take me too long to max out most of my knight’s skills—which is good in that I never felt outgunned, but bad in that I felt I hit the ceiling a bit too quickly.

Combat is deep but a little awkward. Basic melee and ranged attacks are both controlled with the right thumbstick. It’s crucial to learn the rhythm of the melee attack combo (which changes as more points go into the Expertise skill). As enemies are killed, a knight’s Corruption meter—used to add Frost and Fire effects to attacks—fills up. Killing enemies also increases a combo multiplier which is used to fill yet another meter that, when maxed out, allows for a devastating special attack—either a sword whirlwind or a barrage of arrows. Quick use of the shield power is also necessary to preserve health and the combo multiplier. It took some practice to remember which buttons to push for which attacks, although in my experience the best option was to specialize and stick to a smaller subset of attacks.

If there’s a downside (in my opinion, at least), it’s that the gameplay itself is very linear and straightforward. Stages tend to be a series of skirmishes against a wave of enemies; the knights can’t advance until each wave has been wiped out. Extra gold is secreted away in each stage as a reward for exploring the scenery, but the maps themselves progress in fixed paths. Boss fights do have patterns, but the real challenge usually lies in cutting down the ever-growing swarms of surrounding enemies to get to the boss himself.

Corrupted gets a Try. I found the single-player to be well-balanced and a lot of fun. Multiplayer and an Arena mode (where knights face wave after wave of enemies on a fixed map) add to the replay value. However, the control scheme and complexity isn’t for everyone.

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