By Michael Fontanini / October 20th, 2015
|Title||Corpse of Discovery|
|Release Date||August 25, 2015|
This was to be your final mission for the Corps of Discovery, after which you would go home and retire with your loving family. You wake up in the sleeping quarters inside your base and head to the Holocom module to receive a message from your family and then go get your mission briefing. Then, it’s time to don your space suit and head out into the world. You are alone on a planet called Tellurus, excited to get your mission done so you can leave this world behind. But after finishing your mission, things don’t go according to plan. You find yourself stranded, and things soon fall into a strange cycle as you go in and out of hallucinations and dream-like states. Can you withstand the weight of crushing regrets and push on?
Corpse of Discovery explores why people choose some of the paths they do in life. It’s an interesting concept for a game, but one thing needs to be mentioned at the top here: Corpse of Discovery is what some call a “walking simulator.” The gameplay on each level is composed of exploration. You must find the objectives in each level, but there are also extra optional things to find in each level. These extras often revolve around memories from home, even simple things like some tasty fast food.
The exploration is not all walking, though, as in many later levels you also get a jetpack. You can sprint while on the ground, and there is no stamina to slow you down. The jetpack, on the other hand, can only propel you for a limited time, and then you need to wait for it to recharge. Traversing the worlds is enjoyable (with a bit of platforming in there, too), and each world is also quite vast.
The game explores questions like “Was this path in life really worth the risk?” and “Was it really the right choice?” Your character’s plan was to do this one final mission for the Corps of Discovery to make enough money to provide for his family. Of course, now it seems it may have been a terrible mistake. With no way home, you are forced to face the reality of missed memories with your kids, because they grow up little by little whether you’re there or not.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the developers have made the hologram of your family quite blurry and low detail. This allows the player to insert his or her own family in their place. The messages you get from your family as you progress all have voice acting, and it’s pretty good. Hearing your kids tell you they miss you sucks, even if you don’t have kids in real life. Subsequent messages from home start to become less hopeful as time goes on, but what can you do? Stranded on a strange world far from home with your shuttle damaged beyond repair, you can only wait. But, as time ticks on, your sanity is slowly eroded by regrets, memories and the terrible solitude.
Corpse of Discovery is divided into a series of levels (or missions), each of which gives you a new, vast world to explore. Each of these worlds looks like it is indeed an entirely different planet, except that the mission briefing always says “Welcome to: Tellurus.” Certainly, this is a hint about the state of your sanity as you progress through the game. As you can see in the screenshot above, the worlds look very nice, and some are very bright and vibrant with lush vegetation. But they can be dangerous, too (as evidenced by that Radiation Shield bar). On some planets, being in the sun fills this bar with red and you must get to a shaded spot to let your shield recover. Some worlds contain other hazards, like oceans of lava, or dangerous creatures. So that brings us to the question of what happens if you die. Well, dying is not permanent in Corpse of Discovery. Instead, you will just respawn at the nearest objective you’ve found in the mission.
The music is very atmospheric and a little haunting at times. It shrouds the game with a feeling of emptiness and sadness. The sound effects are pretty good, too. It all comes together to make you feel how terrible it would be for an astronaut to be stranded for a long time, especially if he’s never going home; destined to die alone on that world… And somewhere back home is a grieving family, torn apart.
Your A.V.A. Unit (shown above) is your only companion. She will float around with you once you activate her and help you with mission objectives. She is the only other character you will see during your time on Tellurus. But her batteries will only last so long, and then you will be alone once more. You have a little control over this, in that her batteries won’t die until you complete all but one of your objectives. She will also try to contact the Corps for you to get you and her extracted from the planet, so that you can return home.
While Corpse of Discovery is overall a very sad experience, it’s not all sad, and the game isn’t really a tear jerker, either. In fact, there are a few very funny moments in the game. A.V.A. has some pretty funny lines later in the game, and, as your sanity declines, you will find some strange and sometimes amusing hallucinations. As mentioned at the top of this review, the game is what some call a “walking simulator.” It is by no means a bad game, though. Corpse of Discovery is a fairly short game, taking only a handful of hours or so to complete. As you might guess, the replay value is somewhat low here, but it would still be a nice game to play again sometime later just to re-experience it. The game is available on Steam for $14.99. Corpse of Discovery drops you off on a faraway planet all alone, to answer one simple question: “Will you ever get home, or will the next embrace you feel be that of death?”
Review copy provided by publisher.
Corpse of DiscoveryPhosphor GamesSteam