Degrees of Separation – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle/Platformer
Developer: Moondrop
Publisher: Modus Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Tested on: PC

Degrees of Separation – Review

Site Score
8.2
Good: Controls are simple to get to grips with
Bad: Narration doesn't always add to the experience
User Score
7.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. Degrees of Seperation, however, is a game made by Moondrop. So the developer has made a beautiful play on words by using the word ‘degrees’ in such a manner that it could mean temperature or a segregation. It shows that they’ve put thought into the most integral part of their game, what calls gamers to their product, namely, the title.

Story

The story in Degrees of Separation revolves about not one, but two protagonists, like in ‘Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons’. One of them is Rime and the other is Ember. One is all about winter, while the other is all about summer. Both come from their respective kingdoms, one being cold as hell while the other is as hot as the Sahara desert. The kingdom of cold is starting to thaw, while the kingdom of heat is starting to freeze. So Rime and Ember have to work together to find out why both their kingdoms are in dire situations.

The way the story is presented is by telling. A voice-over talks about how events around the world happened or describing the scenery. It tries to evoke a feeling, but somehow what’s being said doesn’t jibe well with what’s presented making players feel a duality between what’s shown and what’s being said.

If you want to evoke a feeling of disparity or confusion on why things are the way they are, then give visuals that actually supports it. Saying ‘the melting ice dripped down like tears’ sounds so dramatic while what you show isn’t nearly as much so, doesn’t give weight to your statement. The stakes aren’t high because it doesn’t feel like the kingdom is in actual danger, no collapsing walls, no debris littering the hallways. It just looks too ‘safe’ to feel like a threat that could mean the end of Rime’s or Ember’s realm.

Graphics

The game has this really pretty hand-drawn visual aesthetic going on and that’s to the game’s merit. Both characters have their unique powers and whenever they walk around, the level changes dramatically. The color palette swaps and this helps the player see the way the protagonists view the world. The level design is intuitive and often from the get go it’s obvious on where you need to go, so the developer helps the player solve the puzzles by keeping things simple.

The characters aren’t fully animated, but have a ‘ligaments’ movement. This means that their joints move, but all else stays stiff. It doesn’t really make for fluid movement, but this animation works well with the hand-drawn visuals of the game.

Sound

The music of Degrees of Separation is calming and soothing, making for a relaxing experience when you play the game. This same compliment can be given to the voice-over which narrates the background of the game. Neither Rime nor Ember have been given voices, but they sometimes do little exclamations of exertion, like when they climb something or fall down into really deep holes. So they do come across a little more human than just puppets being strung along for the ride.

Gameplay

Degrees of Separation is a puzzle/platforming game. You use A and D to move left or right, W and S to move up or down and E to interact with things. Switching characters is done by pressing Q and pressing F makes the character you aren’t controlling either follow you or stay put.

The control scheme is easy, but that’s only a good thing, it helps players focus on the puzzle without having to take a three week course on how to make sense of the gameplay. You’ll have to use the powers of both Rime and Ember to either light torches so doors open, or chill them so they don’t, giving the other character a way to get up/over/under things. Though the mechanic of having two powers works wonders, sometimes you’ll stumble on the solution of a puzzle more by accident than by actually figuring it out, when a sudden shift in climate happens because you tried to jump over the other character.

It’s your duty to get all the scarves and open the doors to find out what’s happening to both your kingdoms and put a stop to it. The game auto saves so you don’t have to worry about saving. So when your power drops out, you’ll probably lose only a smidgen of progress and that makes it so the game doesn’t lose momentum and the player is highly immersed.

Conclusion

Degrees of Separation could be a politically loaded game with all the climate change going on and people clamoring about the world going to shit. That’s not the message Moondrop, the developer of the game is trying to send. The game is about solving puzzles with the powers of freezing and thawing and about teamwork. So if you want to play this game alone or a buddy by your side, then this game will be a breath of fresh air.

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Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)
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Degrees of Separation - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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First game ever was Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped, ever since then, gaming has been something that I've gravitated to. Reading's fun but not as interactive. Always up for a bout of online multiplayer. If that multiplayer is co-op. So if you are up for a friendly co-op session, hit me up. Rahenik's the name to search on PSN.

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