In its most basic form, corruption is the idea of taking something that is pure and imbuing it with impurities, changing its very nature from good to evil. It is the notion of warping ideals in an effort to lead one off of the path of the righteous or heroic, possibly resulting in the corrupted fighting for what they had once stood against. In stories with more fantastic elements, this corruption of morals or spirit is sometimes paired with the physical corruption of the subject's body.
Examples of Corruption
The Lord of the Rings
In J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy and the games upon which they are based, the One Ring is a source of powerful corrupting influence. Those that come to possess the ring have their ideals, minds, and bodies warped. The most extreme example, Gollum, was once a hobbit that lived the peaceful sort of life that hobbits generally live until he came into possession of the ring. Through its influence, he committed murder, theft, and eventually fled to the caves under the mountains, where he lived until Bilbo Baggins stumbled upon him. By this point, Gollum had become a twisted, vile creature solely obsessed with his "precious," the ring.
In the Metroid Prime series, there exists a dangerous substance known as Phazon. Lifeforms exposed to high quantities of Phazon are corrupted through a form of madness. The titular Metroid Prime which was exposed to large amounts of Phazon, mutated and grew into a powerful, dangerous being that, after its defeat, absorbed parts of Samus's Phazon Suit and became the being known as Dark Samus. The sole objective of this being is to spread the influence of Phazon across the galaxy.
In Metroid Prime 3, this Phazon Madness infects a group of bounty hunters working for the Galactic Federation after Dark Samus ambushes them and floods their bodies with Phazon to the extent that their bodies begin to produce it. Among this group, Samus is the only one that doesn't fall prey to the madness after the Phazon venting system in her suit malfunctions. However, if Samus should enter Hyper Mode and fail to expel the Phazon in her system, an alternate Game Over sequence will play in which Samus is corrupted, becoming another Dark Samus.
Soul Edge/Soul Calibur
In Namco's Soul Edge/ Soul Calibur series, the Soul Edge is a demonic blade that quickly overtakes and corrupts whoever attempts to wield it. The warrior Siegfried, in his attempt to claim the blade, was overtaken by the sword's powerful influence and became Nightmare, a recurring villain of incredible dark power. Even after Siegfried had managed to rid himself of Soul Edge and the persona of Nightmare, Nightmare had become so powerful that it became an independent entity of pure evil.
In Soul Calibur V, Pyrrha, the daughter of Sophitia, is a "malfested," or a person whose soul has been tainted by the power of Soul Edge. Tira uses this to her advantage by forcing Pyrrha into battles in which she has no choice but to kill if she wishes to survive. These acts cause Pyrrha's malfestation to grow stronger until she finally gives in completely while attempting to fend off Nightmare from her brother, Patroklos. In her thoroughly malfested state, she becomes what Tira considers the perfect wielder of Soul Edge.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
In Dragon Quest IX, celestial fruits known as fyggs fall to the mortal realm, where they become a threat to any that consume them. The first of the fyggs that the player must recover was consumed by Abbot Jack of All-trades Abbey. However, the fygg's power ends up consuming him instead, and he is transformed into a demonic figure, the Master of Nu'un, bent on controlling humanity. Upon his defeat, the fygg's energy is driven from him, and he returns to his old self while the player is able to collect the fygg.
The Diablo series is rife with corrupting influences and fallen figures. The once noble King Leoric, for example, has his mind twisted by the influence of Diablo, as well as by his Archibishop Lazarus, whom Diablo had successfully warped into his servant. Though Leoric managed to resist Diablo's attempts to possess him, the demon's influence and subsequent possession of his son, Prince Albrecht, drove the king mad. After he's slain by one of his own officers, Leoric becomes a member of the undead known as the Skeleton King.
In Diablo II, it is revealed that all three of the first game's heroes have been corrupted in one way or another:
- The Warrior, later revealed to be Aiden, Leoric's other son, drives the soulstone containing Diablo's spirit into his own forehead in hopes of containing the evil, but is quickly corrupted and overtaken by Diablo's influence in a matter of days.
- The Rogue, Blood Raven, maddened by her experiences in Tristram, returns to the Sisters of the Sightless Eye a changed woman, and in her weakened mental state is easily corrupted into a servant of Andariel.
- The Sorcerer, also driven mad by his experiences in Tristram, travels to Lut Gholein and discovers the entrance to the Arcane Sanctuary in the palace's basement. After opening the portal (unleashing numerous demons that slaughter people within the palace in the process), he enters the sanctuary and declares himself "The Summoner" as he attempts to master the sanctuary's powers.
In SaGa Frontier, Asellus's storyline has three possible endings. In her "full-mystic" ending, she becomes the new queen of the mystics after Orlouge's defeat. All traces of the kindness she once had vanishes, and she becomes an even crueler despot than the one she deposed despite her original desire to become human again.