It seemed like 2020 was the year of cyberpunk. Fueled by everyone trying to get their genre game out and ride the Cyberpunk 2077 hype wave, we got games like Cloudpunk and Ghostrunner. Running a little bit behind the pack, Disjunction has joined what is feeling like (to this player, at least) a saturated market. Swayed by two of my greatest weaknesses – pixel art and an intriguing story hook – I rolled up my sleeves and got down to work.
Disjunction Review – Eyes Wide Shut
I was sold on Disjunction‘s story from the start. Pitched as the interweaving story of three unique characters in 2048 New York, a drug called Shard is infecting a city already struggling with a poor economy and every other issue seen in ninety nine percent of anything cyberpunk ever. Mega-corps are gaining power and influence, which naturally means there are some underground resistance movements ready to rise up. And, like every cyberpunk movie ever has taught us, rifts between those who believe in body modification and purists. Through the course of the game, players would take turns with Frank the private eye, boxer with a background Joe, and obligatory hacker character Spider. All the tropes in one stealth-if-you-want-it action RPG.
Gameplay is pretty standard for the genre; make your way through the level via stealth, brute strength, or a little of both. Each character has a pocket full of tools unique to them. Frank has a med kit you can use to heal up, a smoke grenade, and his trusty pistol. Joe also has a grenade in his arsenal but instead of a simple smoke plume, his knocks out enemies within its radius. What’s great here is that how you complete each level does in fact seem to influence the story. For example, in the very first Frank level I relied heavily on my gun and taking out every single enemy in the building. I checked in with the client and sure enough she knew what I had done. In my defense, knocking out enemies and then dragging them just out of range into a giant pile is a lot of fun.
Using your abilities consumes energy. You’ll need to play smart and not waste all of your energy upfront. If you’re lucky, you might spot a small energy cell somewhere in the level when you’re low. Enemies have a chance to drop ammo, health, and energy consumables, too. Abilities can be upgraded using two ways; the first using the XP earned by completing those in-game objectives. These follow a 5/10/15/20 scale, thus incentivizing you to do as many tasks as you can. The second way is to locate the upgrade kit hidden in each level. You’ll get the accompanying XP and give you ways to alter your gadgets.
Disjunction Review – Fractured State
There are two major points of contention that I have with Disjunction. The first is the complete lack of any difficulty settings. If you aren’t a fan of games that force you to repeat sections over and over with slight alterations in hopes of getting a better outcome, avoid this one like the plague. If I had known there were no difficulty options I would not have offered to review this game. Screaming at video games is stress I just don’t need in my life. Games can be both challenging and fun, but when you’ve got two notches of health and no energy, things can get miserable pretty quick.
Second, the checkpoint system is atrocious. Levels have manual checkpoint pads that can be activated only once. So if you’ve hit the pad, then proceeded to clear out a few other rooms and found any key items, you won’t be able to re-save using the same pad. The developers also failed to implement one of the most standard checkpoints ever: unlocking doors does not trigger a save. Replaying a level a dozen times to get back to the door I unlocked in the hopes of finding another pad or some healing items is tedious and the complete opposite of fun. Disjunction? More like disjointed.
If it weren’t for these two very major sticking points, Disjunction is a promising experience. As much as I really want to finish out the story and take the third character for a spin, my doctor would have my head for letting a video game raise my blood pressure this high. Here’s hoping the developer decides to patch in these oversights for players who want to enjoy games, not torture themselves.
Disjunction review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a PlayStation 5. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.