Corpse of Discovery is a walking simulator with exploration elements and a sci-fi setting. In Corpse of Discovery, you play a lone explorer, tasked by the Corps to undertake a difficult and risky mission on a hostile planet. After your shuttle crash lands, what will you do? Is there any hope for rescue? I got a pre-release key for Corpse of Discovery and have been mapping its contours – in this Corpse of Discovery review I’ll present my findings.
These Boots Were Made for Walking
I feel like Corpse of Discovery fits within the walking simulator genre, although it does feature more expansive environments and a bit more platforming than most walking simulators have featured to-date. It is possible to die, although you quickly respawn nearby with minimal fuss.
Walking simulators are usually pretty relaxed affairs, with minimal interaction and linear storytelling. Many walking simulators with the concept of player choice and how it impacts the game. They tend to be divisive among gamers, many of whom don’t consider them to be games at all. Some would probably argue that they’re more “artistic” than they are “interactive.”
Strutting and Fretting
Walking simulators tend to be plot-focused, and they tend to try to tackle large, philosophical topics through interactive storytelling. Corpse of Discovery’s central theme is one of priorities – given our short lifespans, what balance should we strike between the various goals we have?
Central to this is personal ambition. According to the developer, the game is Creative Director Chip Sineni’s somewhat autobiographical study of the sacrifices required in order to make a game. In the context of the game’s story, the main character has chosen to undertake a difficult, risky mission instead of staying home and spending more time with his family.
As Corpse of Discovery progresses, it examines this theme from different angles. For instance, why do we hold “good parents” in high esteem when they are rarely remembered? By contrast, does doing something epic matter if nobody else ever knows about or can experience it?
The story is told primarily through two “narrators” of sorts. One is a kind of internal monologue that shows up to give you an idea as to what your character is feeling. The other is a small robot, AVA, which follows you around and gives you external direction, advice, and the occasional HR update.
AVA’s observations are often humorous, although they aren’t quite on the level of The Stanley Parable’s narrator. AVA will attempt to keep you on task, but often waxes philosophical, questioning why you have chosen to make certain personal decisions.
Towards the end, the plot takes some odd turns that I didn’t quite fully comprehend. It seems like at first there’s going to be an explanation or resolution, but then it takes a turn towards the surreal. I feel like I could attempt to wrap my own metaphorical context around the late game development, but I can’t say it made a lot of sense to me.
They Should Have Sent a Poet
The “exploration” elements of Corpse of Discovery are focused on a set of different worlds, with different environmental conditions and various objectives to accomplish. The worlds are unique and beautiful, and I feel like this is the sort of game that would benefit heavily from VR.
On some planets, the visuals do suffer somewhat, though. Since Corpse of Discovery takes place in large, wide-open spaces, the limitations of modern graphics cards and game engines mean that the draw distance isn’t infinite. Formations in the distance sometimes appear and disappear without warning. There’s some noticeable texture pop-in as well, with textures obviously changing as you approach certain objects in the world. When these issues occur, they tended to break my immersion.
The objectives are all basically “go to this waypoint and press a button,” so the real meat of the game is in getting from point A to point B. Some of the worlds contain hostile elements, like solar radiation that slowly fries your suit, unfriendly alien life, or bottomless pits to avoid. In addition to getting to the main quest markers, other markers frequently appear that you can trek towards.
You begin the game with a double jump and the ability to sprint. Later levels introduce a jetpack and a hand-held minimap that aid in your exploration. There are a few somewhat tricky jumps that took a few tries, but generally speaking the challenge level is pretty low.
Like many games in this genre, the length of time you’ll spend with Corpse of Discovery depends on how long you spend examining things and drinking in the atmosphere. My playthrough clocked in at around 5 hours, but I tended to go out of my way to see all the optional objectives.
I also experienced quite a few crashes to the desktop as I was playing, and this got progressively worse as the game came to its conclusion. I probably had 5 crashes in the last half hour alone.
|Corpse of Discovery|
Corpse of Discovery is going to appeal most to fans of the walking simulator genre or those looking for an interactive sci-fi story. If you’re balancing a challenging but rewarding career with a family, the central themes of Corpse of Discovery will likely hit close to home. However, some graphical and stability related issues plague it, and I personally found the plot to be inconsistent and unrewarding in its conclusion.