CorpoNation: The Sorting Process Review (Switch eShop)


CorpoNation: The Sorting Process Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

‘Cost of living multiplier’ is not a setting you expect to see in an options screen, but this is one of the numerous difficulty tweaks in CorpoNation. Canteen Games’ dystopian employment simulator deftly balances mundane repetition and creeping dread. It looks and feels like a shadowy corporate follow-up to Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please, adapting that title’s themes of morality within a capitalist structure.

You fill the shoes of a new starter at Ringo, purportedly the largest and most successful conglomerate in a world you only experience through dubious, propaganda-like news articles. Your life now takes place between your in-house living quarters and the sorting floor. After a brief orientation, you are asked to sort genetic samples into designated tubes, earning credits based on speed and efficiency.

Right from the outset the repetitive task you undergo has darker connotations. What are these samples of? Where do they go when you send them through the tubes?

CorpoNation: The Sorting Process Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

At the end of your shift, you return home to a tiny apartment. A personal computer greets you with notifications highlighting news stories that venerate your place of work. A state-sanctioned game platform asks you to purchase crystals to level up your fighter and gain supremacy over online opponents. A shop offers another opportunity to burn through your meager salary, peddling everything from wallpaper to plushies.

At the bottom of the in-game desktop monitor, a series of intranet users will ping over messages to see how you are and to make sure you are indulging in healthy commerce. These friendly chats almost always ring false, seeming like company bots sent to spy on you and harvest your data.

Every aspect of Corponation’s core loop instills a thick atmosphere of paranoia. Work shifts see you sorting, splicing, mixing, and discarding samples based on the instruction of your manager. Your work is set to a moody synth score that feels like the beat of a slave master’s drum.

CorpoNation: The Sorting Process Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Every social feed available to you praises the benefits of working hard and feeding your salary back into the internal economy. News articles show scientific studies on the benefits of gaming and buying furniture. Employee surveys offer an easy way to get free credits by answering monotonous questions but don’t blindly click ‘strongly agree’ on everything, lest you be penalised and forfeit the completion bonus.

It’s almost a relief when this repetitive, faintly insidious grind is interrupted by a targeted hack of your home terminal. Flashes of subliminal messaging urge you to reject the system. Acquiesce to this call of resistance and you are given a modded pager, your portal to a cabal of rebellious employees. From there you spend your evenings cycling between the creepy Ringo desktop apps and the secret comms of your pager. This added complexity makes the day-to-day rhythm a bit more fiddly.

You receive assignments from both your employer and the underground network. These come in the form of variations on the usual sorting process. Some days, conditions required from Ringo will clash with your more illicit tasks. You still need to fulfill a quota for your shift, but there’s a layer of intrigue that tempts you into breaking the rules. Everything you do right rewards you with credits. You can reject the pull of the sponsored spending on your work computer and let the money pile up, or altruistically donate to the hard-up colleagues in the hacker forums.

CorpoNation: The Sorting Process Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

While visually simplistic and mechanically undemanding, Corponation’s smart writing is deeply engrossing. Scrutinising the pager forums and second-guessing your fellow employees can be addictive. You’ll want to keep churning through shifts, just to poke at the edges of Ringo’s boundaries, playing by their rules while also flouting them.

What’s interesting about the many distractions offered by the company, is that you’re never quite sure what is mandatory. The ‘online’ games are constantly pushed at you, but you don’t ever really have to play them. Conversely, you can blindly purchase microtransactions and furniture to your heart’s content at the cost of your credits (not unlike real life…).

The experience does almost outstay its welcome towards the end. Ironically, the repetitive nature of the sample sorting process begins to grate on you as it does for the fictional employee. As you work to unravel the mystery of the Ringo corporation, the shifts, and the espionage start to blend together. Even rebelling starts to seem like just another grind.

CorpoNation: The Sorting Process Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

But that’s ultimately the point. This is both meta-commentary on the corporate drone existence and a simulator of that very same life. It presents a mystery worth seeing through to the end.

Conclusion

Corponation: The Sorting Process offers a glimpse into a life where the lines between employee and slave blur. Moody, slow, and intentionally repetitive, you may reach your limit with the task at hand, but it is an experience worth clocking in for.



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