Review: Corrosion: Cold Winter Waiting

Most cops in horror media tend to get killed for a simple reason: for following up with an investigation. Maybe, just maybe, the Sheriff in Corrosion: Cold Winter Waiting should’ve let this one go and not go poking his nose in the bunker at Cold Winter Farm.

Genre(s): Point & Click Adventure | Horror

Developer Viperante

Publisher: Viperante

Release Date: February 2012 (Steam 2015)

Played Main Story

Platforms: PC

Purchase At: Steam

Good:

  • Atmospheric and moody.

  • High puzzle difficulty.

  • Story full of twists and misinformation.

Bad:

  • Weak voice acting.

  • No logic connection between certain segments.

  • Frustrating inventory.

Review

After a presentation-slide like opening that puts you in the shoes of the Sheriff, you’re left in the hidden basement of Cold Winter Farm. The few computers you find tell you the entire bunker is on lockdown. That’s your first goal, to make the system spit out its encrypted codes so you can decipher the unlock code from them. A simple fan malfunction later and job’s done. The bunker is now open to you, if you have the key-cards and codes since every person had a different password. What follows is a story told in documents, journals and some audio recordings. You’ll learn about the Red Butterfly and their enemies, the demonic Blue Locusts…but are these things as they seem? Were the now missing Red Butterfly hunters the good guys or were they something much more sinister?

The plot of Corrosion is one of manipulations and secrets, twists and misinformation. When you’ve finally found everything out, it’s actually quite simple. But there are so many layers of misinformation it takes a while for you to understand what exactly happened, especially concerning some of your actions in the bunker. My mind went to weird and dark places as I tried to imagine what the truth was, if it was supernatural, scientific or just a mass hallucination by a bunch of zealots.

Sheriff, you shouldn't have come here!

Sheriff, you shouldn’t have come here!

While the plot is strong, the overall writing is a bit rough. Journals and documents are sometimes overly wordy and at least in the hunters’ case, they don’t match up with the recorded dialogues. The characters don’t express themselves in the same way they do when speaking, with perhaps a couple of exceptions. It breaks your connection to the NPCs whose lives you’re investigating, as they seem to be different people when talking. Some of the recorded dialogues don’t feel very natural and didn’t match the character’s bios and supposed vocabulary, such as that time when one of them says “whilst I speak to my colleague.” Very few people in the US would ever use the word “whilst” in writing, let alone in a conversation.

Having said so, the journals are quite interesting, and offer insights into the increasingly erratic psyches of the Red Butterfly members, with Sasha, Kegan and Zack being the best of them. The Doctor journal in the abandoned medical complex segment is also pretty good, though tame considering how dark everything else is.

Corrosion is a first person, static background, point & click adventure game, in the same style as Myst. You use the mouse clicks to move one screen at a time, turn and interact with objects. I’ve never been a big fan of these, as you often have to step and turn more than once to get where you want, but I can’t fault the genre or the game for my own personal preference.

Puzzles are about 50/50 on logic and inventory ones and they tend to lean towards the brutal side in terms of difficulty. These aren’t brainteasers. These are migraine-inducing hard puzzles. Just from the start, figuring out what you need to do to lift the bunker’s lockdown will take a lot of time out of you. In the video you’ll find with this review I make it look easy, but that was my second playthrough. The first one I suffered through that bit.

Notes and boards have important information you can miss if you rush!

Notes and boards have important information you can miss if you rush!

The inventory system can lead to some frustration. Corrosion: Cold Winter Waiting, uses a single line inventory, where you need to click on arrows to get from one end of it to the other. When you start it’s fairly easy to use items on the inventory or with each other, but as your collection of knickknacks grows, it becomes increasingly tedious to click to get to that one item on one end and use it with the other at the other end. This is especially true if you’ve missed some important clue in the environment and have to resort to the “click on everything with everything” tactic every point & click adventure gamer is familiar with.

There are moments where there isn’t a logical connection between where you are and where you need to go next. Some doors will open on their own, items will pop-up after you’ve done something. While the idea is you’re not alone in this place, there is never anything that tells you where you should go. At these times, I found myself ambling through the bunker until I finally came across that one room the game wanted me to go to, but if I hadn’t decided to explore, I would’ve thought this was a dead end. This happens a few times and each time, the door you need to find is further away and there is absolutely nothing to even hint at it.

A particular grievance I had in terms of interaction was the Safe puzzle, where you need to turn the dial. Instead of a “hold and turn” or even a keyboard-turn, you have to click for every movement. So if starting on 0 you need to go to 30, it’s going to be that many mouse clicks. It made a simple puzzle into a laborious task.

You'll have to come back to this one quite a few times

You’ll have to come back to this one quite a few times

Visually the game has fantastic atmosphere. The basement looks derelict, the cells bloody and visceral and the cages creepy and ominous. Just on the visual design alone, you’ll want to run away from this place and not go through the next door. You’re never truly in danger, except for one or two instances, but you’ll be tense throughout.

Part of it is the visual design of course, but the audio and its dark and grim music have a lot of influence in that. Some of the tunes tend to repeat themselves, but overall the pieces are perfectly moody and work wonderfully.

Voice acting on the other hand is terrible. There isn’t a single convincing portrayal in the game. Everyone speaks in either a monotone or a gruff Nolan Batman voice. Remelia and Kegan are perfect examples of this, both over the top but completely soulless.

Weirdly enough, you need both name and id. One should've sufficed!

Weirdly enough, you need both name and id. One should’ve sufficed!

Conclusion

Corrosion: Cold Winter Waiting is a fun adventure, creepy and moody and with quite a number of twists in it, but rough dialogues and terrible voice acting break your immersion and connection to the characters that actually drive the plot forward.

TMA SCORE:

3.5/5 – Good

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