Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption (Xbox Series S) Review

Enter Digiton finally arrives on consoles with the Heart of Corruption update but is this demon-infested retro-digital world worth visiting?
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Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption – developed singlehandedly by Morne Venter and now published by Eastasiasoft – is a retro-inspired, action-platformer Metroidvania. It’s a common enough indie genre these days but the visuals, partly inspired by Atari-2600 games, and its distinct “weirdness” make for a novel experience. The “Heart of Corruption” Edition released on consoles is an update – free for owners of the original PC release – that adds new bosses, increases the effectiveness of the shield throw, and makes several quality-of-life improvements. However, it’s still an old-school Metroidvania at heart, and your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for the classic level design, unforgiving bosses, with several trial-and-error platforming sections.

In Enter Digiton, you take control of a digital construct – an “AHAB” unit – dispatched into a digital world to purge it of corrupted, demonic code. The diminutive and distinctly unthreatening unit is, seemingly, defective. They pick a shield instead of an offensive weapon and refuse to slay the training creature, resulting in their swift ejection into the depths below. From this point onwards, you’re left to wander about the subterranean world, with the story coming by way of your companion feline (the last surviving moon cat), conversations with the demon lords, and the odd text collectable.

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Coloured key-hunts and backtracking to use new abilities are all part of the Metroidvania-inspired gameplay loop.

For an hour or two, you’re testing the waters and figuring out which boss encounters you can reach with your early abilities. As a result, it can often feel like you’re running around with little purpose and no context. However, once you get a feel for the level structure – think labyrinthine and packed with secrets, but with only one correct path to the demon lord – you’ll make consistent progress and hit more frequent story beats. What is the real purpose of an AHAB unit, what happened to your cat companion in the past, where did the demon lords come from? When you couple the overarching story with the weirdness of many small encounters, I found the writing enjoyable and the plot intriguing enough to keep pushing forward through some frustrating sections.

Enter Digiton’s gameplay leans heavily into its retro inspirations – though not without some modern concessions. You run, jump, and dash in any direction, time your block to deflect projectiles, and fling your shield as a short-ranged attack. Leaping between platforms, avoiding spike pits or blades, and defeating projectile-spewing enemies makes up the core gameplay loop. Thankfully, the controls are up to the task – tight and responsive. However, as you explore, you’ll quickly notice secret rooms and paths that require new abilities, gained from defeating bosses, often housing collectable souls that can be used to purchase and upgrade ability-modifying masks (you can find these too) from several shops hidden in each area.

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The ability to find, purchase, and upgrade masks using collectible souls is as close as the game comes to RPG mechanics. That said, the right mask, in the right place, at the right time, can make all the difference.

For many players, this initial sensation of feeling lost might be a deal-breaker. You move outwards from the starting mines into four distinctly themed areas with a unique visual style, monsters, and gameplay mechanics. There are magma-filled mines, an icy tundra, a dimly-lit abyss, a haunted castle, and a mushroom forest to explore, but how to make progress is initially unclear. It feels par for the course in this genre, but Enter Digiton’s levels often contain one-way paths, long drops back to lower areas, a limited fast-travel system, and reliance on checkpoints that are erratically spaced.

Seeing as Enter Digiton is fond of lengthy platforming sections that can require blind jumps and sudden adjustments, the inconsistent checkpointing can make some areas feel like an exercise in trial-and-error learning. That said, at least there are gameplay variants unique to each area. A climb up the fragments of a shattered moon features gravity reducing, allowing for increasingly massive jumps. The descent into the abyss relies on you collecting short-lived orbs of light that illuminate nearby platforms and enemies. These novel mechanics in each region ensure the gameplay stays fresh across Enter Digiton’s relatively short runtime.

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The map will help you navigate your way through the large, often labyrinthine levels. It also points out a few hazards and secrets to help you on the way.

When you finally make it to a demon lord, you’ll be grateful there’s always a checkpoint nearby. Navigating Enter Digiton’s world requires patience, observation, and precision but it never feels unfair. The same can be said of the bosses, though your first few chaotic attempts, in which you’ll deal minimal damage, might convince you otherwise. When you’re limited to a weak shield-throw and deflecting projectiles, whittling down their health bars is a challenge, especially as their attacks ramp up in intensity the more damage they take. However, there’s always a predictable sequence to many attacks, while your distance from a boss can be used to trigger certain attack patterns.

Thankfully, failure in Enter Digiton only costs you time as every soul or upgrade you collect on a run is preserved. Taking a dangerous leap to grab a collectable, before plunging to your doom and going back to a checkpoint, is a completely viable approach. The masks you find, enhance, and equip can also give you an edge in platforming and combat, but they always provide both a boost and a drawback to one of your skills (e.g. a damage buff but reduced attack range). This ensures it always feels like you’re improving, even if you had to turn back from a region to tackle another.

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Boss fights, though often tough-as-nails at first, became the highlight of the experience. The Heart of Corruption update adds three more to tackle.

When it comes to the presentation, I expect opinions to be mixed. I enjoyed the Atari-era aesthetic – think simple animations, basic geometry, thick lines, and contrasting primary colours – but it’s not conventional pixel art. On the upside, your character is always easy to see and so are the hazards and attacks you need to avoid. It’s not without some attractive scenes when the game emulates light shafts, particle effects, and bloom, but the bulk of the presentation feels true to the era it’s emulating. The soundtrack, although not sporting a massive number of tracks, was unexpectedly great. The music gives each area a distinct feel, while the boss music ramps up the tempo and makes each encounter feel exciting. My major complaint is the repetitive combat sounds.

All things considered, I found Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption a compact, enjoyable, but occasionally frustrating Metroidvania with quirky writing and distinct visuals (and several easy achievements if that’s your vibe). Given its low price, tight gameplay, and distinctive visual style, Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption feels like it’s punching above its weight in a crowded genre full of games that often do too little to stand apart from each other.

Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption (Xbox Series S) Review

Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption (Xbox Series S) Review
7 10 0 1
Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption is a compact, enjoyable, but occasionally frustrating Metroidvania with quirky writing and novel presentation. It’s hard to stand out in such a crowded genre but, for a solo developer, Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption is a solid starting point.
Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption is a compact, enjoyable, but occasionally frustrating Metroidvania with quirky writing and novel presentation. It’s hard to stand out in such a crowded genre but, for a solo developer, Enter Digiton: Heart of Corruption is a solid starting point.
7/10
Total Score
  • Story
    7/10 Good
    You feel lost and directionless at first but, once you found your first boss and begin to make consistent progress, the narrative picks up and remained intriguing throughout.
  • Gameplay
    7/10 Good
    Conventional action-platforming mechanics but with a twist in each of the four major areas. The controls are tight and responsive, but there's an overreliance on trial-and-error segments coupled with inconsistent checkpoints.
  • Visuals
    7/10 Good
    The Atari-ear retro aesthetics might not appeal to everyone, but it made for a novel experience.
  • Audio
    6/10 Normal
    Although limited in number, the area tracks and boss music is great. I just wish the combat sounds were a little less ear-grating.

The Good

  • An intriguing story, weird characters, and strange encounters
  • Brisk, action-platformer gameplay with tight controls
  • Atari-era retro visuals and soundtrack
  • Low price

The Bad

  • The initial lack of direction and purpose can be off-putting
  • Inconsistent check-pointing
Total
11
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