This review was written on May 18, 2016
Corrosion: Cold Winter Waiting is an immersive mystery horror point and click adventure game that you need to play. You play as a sheriff who is investigating what happened to Cold Winter Farm. You get trapped by a snowstorm in a basement. You quickly discover that you’re in a secret underground lab, and so the adventure begins.
The game basically consists on you trying to find out what the hell happened there. You’ll get information through computer archives, the Internet, personal journals, etc. It mostly consists of lore: about what happened before, à la Dark Souls. The execution of this form of storytelling is absolutely phenomenal. I was asking myself so many questions as I uncovered more and more. “Who were these people?", "What were they trying to do? Why?", "Are they completely insane?", "Is this just another crazy cult, or are they onto something?”. The questions in my head didn't stop bubbling up. The realistic tone works incredibly well, as l felt like this place actually exists, like I was actually there trying to piece it all together. I felt horrified, disgusted and appalled as I got a clearer picture about this organization, but that didn't stop me at all. The more I fed on information, the hungrier I got for more. It pulled me in and I couldn't resist. I felt like I HAD to know exactly what the hell was going on. I felt a bit disgusted with myself as I realized that I was actually enjoying the horror, dysfunction and suffering that I was witnessing on these people. I personally couldn’t stop playing. I beat it in one single 9-hour-long sitting.
As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking: “This game resembles a history class: You’re just reading facts about something that happened a while ago. You’re just a historian who is only feeding his curiosity on something that already concluded. You take no part on it, and you’re completely free of danger.” No worries, because that could not be further from the truth. I got a constant feeling of dread, like you’re being watched at all times. Some events will happen that will make you wonder: “What was that?“, “Did that door just close by itself?“, “Is it automated, or is there someone else in this place?“, “This thing was in a different position when I left this room…” The feeling greatly resembles what you feel when you’re reading a Lovecraft novel, or when you hear an odd noise at night: “Was it the wind, or is someone breaking into my house?” Of course, I’ll have to stop writing about this as I feel I’m about to tread onto spoilers…
The ambient music amplifies those feelings of dread greatly. I don’t have much to say about it, other than it fits perfectly with the game, and does an excellent job at pulling you into the game’s depressing world.
All in all, it’s a great Lovecraftian (sort of) horror story that deserves your attention. Seriously, why is this game not popular?
Anyway, this is a game after all, so let’s talk a bit about the game aspects of it:
The way you interact with the world is pretty standard: The mouse pointer icon will indicate that you can click on something to interact with it. You click on the edges of the screen to navigate. You can pick up things that fill your inventory. You’ll sometimes need to combine certain items to progress. You also interact with computers by typing with your keyboard. One con about the game is that there are literally NO keyboard controls, except when you’re using computers.
You’ll have to use the mouse at all times. Navigating the world with WASD would have been a much appreciated option. Inventory hotkeys would have been nice, too. It’s a shame that the game wastes the chance to have the keyboard as an input option.
The gameplay consists of you solving puzzles, basically. It’s a fairly open map, where you need to solve the next puzzle to unlock a door to progress to the next area, or similar stuff like that. Some puzzles were satisfyingly hard for me. I had a notepad to write stuff on at all times, and I also took pictures about relevant stuff for future reference. It was mentally stimulating. I think that the difficulty level was perfect.
Sadly, it has those “Monkey Island” moments, as I call them: Sometimes the solution to a puzzle won’t be intuitive at all. Sometimes you’ll need to do a crazy, unintuitive, oddly specific item combination to progress. Or sometimes you’ll have to input a REALLY specific set of data to a computer that you had no way of figuring out. I recall a time where you needed to input the exact time in which something happened. I had to use a guide for these segments.
The inventory interface isn’t too pretty. It gets really messy when you get a crap load of items, and navigating through them is a slow and sometimes frustrating process. The interface consists of one row of items that can be scrolled, one item at a time, with a timer that limits the scrolling speed (What I mean by that is that after you click the arrow to scroll, you have to wait a certain amount of time to scroll again. If you click again before that amount of time passes, nothing will happen). These might be engine limitations, I’m not sure. One idea would be to have 2 extra arrows that scroll one entire tab of items at a time. Or maybe displaying more than 1 row of items at a time. Of course, keyboard controls would have helped a lot here.
The movement isn’t smooth either, sometimes. At times, you’ll need to do something like 5 units of movement to get somewhere right beside you. But at 90% of the time, the movement feels just right. Again, I wouldn’t have any complaints about it if you could move with the keyboard.
The environments are breathtakingly realistic. They give a creepy, claustrophobic and gritty vibe, reminiscent of the Resident Evil pre-rendered backgrounds (The REAL Resident Evil’s (1 to 3, and especially REmaster). You really feel like you’re there. It’s really hard to believe for me that it was all made by one guy, as I understand it.
For the people who are game developers, or are just interested in the process, the game was made in the Wintermute Engine, and the beautiful and photorealistic environments were modelled and rendered in TrueSpace 6.6.
To Viperante: Thank you so much for creating this amazing game! I Hope you get the recognition you deserve in your future projects (Maybe by investing a bit more in marketing ;)). The fact that this game isn’t popular is baffling to me. I can’t wait to see your future projects.