3885 Bohannon Drive
Menlo Park, CA 94025
$44.95, color or monochrome
Reviewed by Frank Eva
Think of text adventures and Infocom no doubt comes to mind. (Infocom is now under the auspices of Mediagenic, distributors of Rainbird products.) Now, who comes to mind when you consider illustrated text adventures? Chances are Magnetic Scrolls and Rainbird Software.
Magnetic Scrolls has produced The Pawn, Guild of Thieves and Jinxter. This latest effort is probably its most "adult" offering. There are no mythical lands, sorcerers or elves here. Corruption is a true-to-life adventure.
Imagine this: Your name is Derek Rogers, and you live in London. You are an ambitious yuppie on your way up the business ladder. Your ability at stock market manipulation has caught the eye of David Rogers (no relation), who makes you a full partner in his firm, gives you your own office, a high salary and your own BMW. You are at the top, but just as soon as you begin to celebrate your achievements, things start to unravel.
Included in the package is an audio cassette. The story contained therein (the cassette contains the program's original sound track, too, that double-sided drive owners can hear through their monitor's speaker, at the beginning of each game), coupled with suggestions on the box, paint a fairly grim picture of your first day at the new job. You have become the chief suspect in an insider trading scandal—and no one is rushing to your defense!
(For the uninitiated, insider trading is an illegal stock market activity where the broker uses privileged information to make investments for clients or himself, which results in huge profits.)
The ST version of Corruption features 80-column text and excellent painting quality illustrations that can be pulled down, nondestructively, over the text. You can, in fact, play without the use of the illustrations altogether, for they do not figure heavily in the actual game play. For example, in an early scene, you can plainly see a cleaning lady, but try as you may, the program keeps telling you that she just is not there. Obviously, at this point in the game, her part in the adventure is only atmospheric.
Pull-down menus also provide for some other nice extras, such as an item to instantly reveal all the exits for the current location. The item selected (highlighted) is activated by a left mouse click. To pull down the illustrations screen, you must point to the menu bar and hold down the right mouse button while pulling. Monochrome monitor owners will welcome the ability to size text or alter the display through techniques including stippling and dithering.
The documentation includes a quick start card that provides loading instructions, an adventure guide (quick reference card) detailing special functions, and a game play manual that explains methods of communicating with the game, as well as providing encrypted hints. Now, you might view the use of hints as a form of cheating, but believe me, you won't want to use these hints unless you're desperate. The smallest cipher consists of 14 two-letter codes, while most require 30 or more. Each cipher must be entered without a single error in order to receive a useful hint.
The player is allowed to define the ten function keys to frequently used phrases. This should save typing time, but since there is no way to save your definitions, this feature will only be valuable if you play for a few hours at a time.
The parser's vocabulary is not tremendous, but should suffice. The main thrust of the game is away from object manipulation and relies heavily on character interaction. There are 15 personalities that the player must learn to communicate with if he/she expects to complete the game. Each action adds one minute to the game clock. This means that certain developments are going to happen at specific times. You will have to be in the right place at the right time in order to witness the action. It also means that the player has a limited time before being hauled off to jail. Once there, the game is over. Maintaining your freedom is essential in order to untangle yourself from the long arms of the law that tighten their grip on you, the chief suspect.
As mentioned earlier, this is an adult adventure. This does not mean that the language or illustrations are of a questionable nature. It just means that this is not a game that the kiddies will readily comprehend. The themes are adult, and the game play moderate to difficult.
A problem that arises with software that comes in to this country from overseas is the cultural barrier. Certain expressions will leave the player somewhat puzzled. For example, in one scene you are told that the secretary has made her office "homely" with a vase of flowers on her desk and family portraits on the walls. Obviously, over in the U.K., "to make homely" means "to make it like home." On this side of the big water, we think of homely as unattractive. This cultural barrier is only a minor inconvenience however.
To be successful at Corruption, just remember that you are thrown into the world of cutthroat business, with all of its power plays, greed, deception and double dealing. You must become ruthless in order to survive.
Adventure gamers who are tired of slaying dragons will surely find Corruption an intriguing change of pace!
Recommendation: For graphic adventure fans.
Frank Eva is an auditor by profession, but has been involved in the computer industry ever since his purchase of an Atari 400 many years ago. He has dabbled in programming and has had several text adventures published. His software reviews have appeared in several magazines.