By – Sophie Jones

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Corpse of Discovery traverses 6 extremely different planets whilst trying to entangle you in one man’s quest to be reunited with his family. Even though most players aren’t astronauts the story is still relatable to anyone who has been far from home. As I took my first steps out of the airlock I felt lost, isolated and frankly terrified as a dust tornado whizzed by. Yet like most walking simulators, it suffers from fatal flaws, the gameplay lacks luster and its direction is ultimately unclear.  The game begins with a live action press conference broadcasting about the recent loss of a spacecraft and what action Corps will take next. Like most corporations this one is on the evil side and refuses to conduct a rescue mission. Thus begins the astronaut’s journey as he awakes aboard the Corps of Discovery, alone and confused.

From this point you enter a first person perspective and can explore the ship. There are plenty of things to look at like photos, computers and you can listen to recorded messages sent by your family. These messages are what give the game its emotional impact as you listen to all the things you are missing out on back home. When clicking on objects text appears at the bottom of the screen detailing anecdotes. These sometimes contain easter eggs that reference Interstellar and the Martian which will appease most sci-fi fans momentarily.

A briefing room inside the hub of the spacecraft details your current mission via holograms. This is where things get interesting as you leave the airlock and venture across the vast alien landscape.
Your main aim is then to find samples on the planet’s surface to send back to Corps. You are assisted by a cynical robot AVA. This hovering orb will tell you what you need to find and will regularly give you incentive do to so. These motivational speeches usually comprise of how the work you’re doing will benefit your family.

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The plot is further explored though numerous objects found in the world. These are shown as anomalies on your map and are optional to collect. These mysterious artefacts can be music excerpts, adverts or visions of life on Earth. Each encounter only enforces the main characters fear that they will die alone, never to return home. These additions added a depth to the narrative which made it easier to invest in.

After you have collected everything on the first planet’s surface you see an apparition and everything fades to black. You then find yourself back aboard the Corps of Discovery and a few things have changed. From this moment onwards, the plot becomes slightly confusing and open to a lot of interpretation. You later meet with a talking dog, have a conversation with death and AVA becomes the epitome of sarcasm. The last hour draws you away from the astronaut’s struggle and instead deteriorates into a parody of itself.

Unfortunately, the gameplay lacks the quirkiness which the story has. As it is a walking simulator all you do is move around. This becomes dull quickly as the worlds you explore are colossal and you are forced to cover a lot of ground by mainly running. You do have the option to jump and later use a jet pack but even with these it’s boring. As you are in a suit there is no noise or idyllic soundtrack to keep you entertained or set an atmosphere. This makes journeying rather tiring.

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The main objectives are also repetitive and simple which adds to its bleakness. On each of the 6 planets your goals are to find important samples around the map. These are not always interesting which makes the effort to get there more burdensome. Although, there were a few features which I liked. Whilst adventuring you have to be aware of the uncharted world’s hazards. In one instance you had a limited amount of time as the sun burnt through your radiation shields. This meant you always had to be aware of where the next patch of shade was in order to replenish. Also, whilst avoiding the sun, you had to keep an eye out for sandstorms as their pull could whisk you upwards destroying your shields and leaving you extremely vulnerable.

At times Corpse of Discovery can be beautiful but it does depend which world you’re in. The first planet is rather bleak and textures can look muddy and undistinguished. However, the second world is a colourful rainforest with stunning lights shafts. The radical differences between each of the planets’ surfaces injected much needed life into the title. The design choices for HUD are also praiseworthy. When in the ship there isn’t an interface at all but when you leave the airlock, the first person view becomes slightly distorted and bars appear showing radiation levels. This added a sense of claustrophobia and realism to the experience as you felt trapped in a suit.

Although, when starting the game the first thing I did was look down. As suspected my avatar didn’t have a body, I was merely a floating head. This took away from the realism and personally I would have preferred a corporeal form as it would have made the journey more personal as the events would have been happening to someone rather than a ghostly being. Also it would have been fascinating to the see the spacesuit design.  On a technical level you get the option to tweak several settings including draw distance, depth of field and graphical detail. However, at the moment the game is quite poorly optimised. It doesn’t matter which options you choose there will be occasional framerate dips and freezes. Thankfully, this wasn’t too noticeable and didn’t deter too much from the experience.

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Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

With about 4 hours of playtime, and a price tag of $14.99, it’s difficult for me to recommend this game. The gameplay can be dull, repetitive and at times, frustrating. Even the narrative falls from grace at its poignant, thought provoking origins turn into a mock tale near the end. The ideas covered in Corpse of Discovery are compelling and should be experienced by players who enjoy a story that leaves them wondering. However, I think this title will fall short of expectations and even sci-fi fans will struggle to find an explanation to what transpired.

Corpse of Discovery Technical Summary:

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  • Time Played – 4 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None
  • DRM – Steam
  • System Specs – Intel i7-4720HQ@2.60 GHz, 8GB Ram, Geforce GTX 980M
  • Control Scheme – KB/M & Controller
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam

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