Developed By: Moondrop
Published By: Modus Games
Platforms: PS4 / XBOX ONE / NINTENDO SWITCH / STEAM
Reviewed On: PS4PRO
Degrees of Separation came out on February 14th 2019 which was perfectly placed for gaming couples to enjoy it. I first saw the trailer about 2 months ago and thought that it would be the perfect game to play with my wife as she likes co-operative fantasy titles. We have both played through Child of Light and the Unravel series and this just seemed like right up our alley. Unfortunately, she has been ill for a while and although she couldn’t accompany me on the gaming journey this time, I thought of charting the path in hope of finding a hidden gem for her to find when she is well.
Degrees of Separation or (DoS) is about Ember and Rime who wake up one day to discover that something is not right in their respective worlds. They both then venture forward from their harmonious hollows and icy castles to find out exactly what it is only to accidentally discover each other. Ember’s world is warm and fiery, Rime’s world is cold and solemn. Somehow, they co-exist in the same world now and must work together to find out about the bigger world outsides of their own and perhaps find answers for each other. Along the way, as they journey together the story narrator unveils backstories on the places they visit and the history of what came before. It is a nice touch that does make the player feel like they are on a journey together through unknown lands.
For a game of this size and scope I do feel that the graphics although not jaw droppingly gorgeous have a unique and wonderful art style to them. The aesthetics of the game’s environment are pleasantly created and as the player moves from area to area exploring mountains and castles. I do feel that even though there is a variety of areas to explore it is someone basic and can eventually feel all too similar.
Presentation & Gameplay
With the split screen mechanic players can utilize both fire and ice to solve puzzles. The reason why you need to solve these puzzles is because you need to collect scarves. Why do you need to collect scarves? Because once you do there will be a star that is filled in the top of the screen once you do. Then what are the stars for? Its to keep track possibly or the number of scarves that you have collected so far in a particular area. See a sort of pattern here?
I feel that the game does not do a very good job of actually trying to explain things to the player. Everything is presented in a very vague manner and most of the time the player will assume what a particular mechanic is representing. It might feel interesting at first but eventually it actually got me somewhat annoyed because that very same philosophy extends to the entire game itself. The puzzles themselves range from easy to figure out to downright frustrating due to this constant feeling of me as the player missing something. Am I supposed to attempt this puzzle now or do I come back later? I don’t really know. Will I get better tools to deal with this puzzle down the road? I don’t really know either. At some point in the game the player will get additional “abilities” that I thought was great and would inform me as the player that I was growing and I was getting better tools to deal with the puzzles at hand. Then I realized these abilities were limited to the levels you discover them in. I thought that was quite disappointing. For a game that bills itself as having Non-Linear Levels why then limit the abilities? This also extends to the narrative itself. At first it is nice that the narrator unravels the tales throughout the journey but then you start to realize that you never take a break and the story kind of just plays itself out. It created a weird disconnect with me as you never stop to watch and hear due to how you just want to get it over with and ironically the game doesn’t stop you either. So as a player I eventually just cared less and less of the ongoing narrative. Oh! did I mention you don’t get any hints whatsoever with the puzzles?
What I Liked
- Graphics – I thought it was nice and crisp.
- Music – It had some nice melodies that accompanied the players journey.
What I Wished Was Better
- Just general design decisions – I don’t think it’s a bad game but I do think that it will be a difficult game to enjoy because of how at odds it is with itself. The first rule of being a puzzle game is trying to establish the rules clearly with all the abilities and tools that will be at your disposal. Also, some puzzles might be harder than others so have hints instead of letting your players get tired of trying to figure it out.
I really wanted to like this game, I really did. Mostly because I love having games to play with my wife but the more I played it the more I just felt like I should not let her play it at all because if I already am frustrated she would be livid. It is totally okay to be non- linear but there has to be a sense of structure in how the pieces fit together. Unfortunately, with all the charm the game offered initially it just was offset by how much of a slog the journey eventually felt.