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This new indie horror is the first game to give me nightmares

In 30 years of gaming, no game has ever given me nightmares... until CorpoNation - a truly adult type of horror coming soon to Steam.

Indie game, CorpoNation, screenshot showing the face of Ringo, a corporate mascot.

I’ve played my fair share of scary games over the past 30 years. As a kid, the Redeads in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time didn’t give me nightmares, and neither did the likes of Slender or Five Nights as Freddy’s as an adult. However, the upcoming CorpoNation now has the honor of being the only game to ever give me truly sleepless nights.

This one is downright disturbing, and while some might argue it’s not quite a horror game, I would say CorpoNation deals with a subject more insidious and terrifying than zombies, ghosts, or axe murderers – yes, it’s corporate culture and capitalist greed.

CorpoNation puts you in the shoes of someone starting a new job in the world’s first nation entirely run and owned by a business. Your job is a simple one: sorting genetic samples. At first, it’s easy enough, and even kind of fun, though you’ll find your job gets increasingly complicated with each passing day. Emails from your manager every morning give you curve balls that turn what you know on its head, and then you end up getting in trouble for things you were sure you did correctly, and being told off for things you didn’t know were wrong.

Indie game, CorpoNation screenshot showing the sorting process of the game.

Then at the end of the work day, you return to your tiny apartment with your meager pay that’s been slashed based on any mistakes made during your shift. Though your home is pretty dismal, it has an eerily peaceful feel, because at least you’re away from all the work stresses. You can customize it with various bits of mostly corporate-branded furniture, but considering your income, you’ll have to be selective.

Indie game, CorpoNation screenshot showing an email from the enforcement sector.

You’ve got an app to remind you of the bills you need to pay, giving you precious little disposable income once all is said and done. You can use what remains on Ringo Fighters, a bit of ‘State-approved Gaming,’ which sadly isn’t making it onto anybody’s list of the best fighting games, because it’s all so heavily geared towards microtransactions. If you want to have fun, you’re gonna end up spending money you don’t have.

Indie game, CorpoNation screenshot showing a dismal blue apartment with corporate posters on the wall, a bed, and a gaming chair at a desk.

One of your few respites is chatting online with your designated work buddies (and later, chatting with Synthesis, a group aiming to overthrow the CorpoNation). I genuinely felt a lot of affection for these characters – one of them in particular had an arc that almost moved me to tears. The people in charge monitor all chats, and speaking against the CorpoNation gets you in trouble. Though you never see them in person, it all felt very intimate and true to the way people share their grievances with colleagues when they’re not quite sure if they can trust each other yet.

Indie game, CorpoNation screenshot showing the game Ringo Fighters in action.

And that realness makes it scary. I almost lost my life in a previous role because of the cold, uncaring nature of corporate culture. I’m glad I’ve had the chance to play this in my 30s, as it’s provided an equal-parts terrifying and cathartic experience, one that I’d recommend to anyone who has experienced an oppressive and toxic workplace.

CorpoNation: The Sorting Process will be available on Steam from February 22. While you wait, check out our list of the best PC games if you fancy something less desperate than Ringo Fighters.