Disjunction has a strong atmosphere and some fun ideas, but its unpolished nature and strange design choices keep me from being able to recommend it wholeheartedly. There are good ideas on display, they’re just surrounded by rough edges.
Developer: Ape Tribe Games
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC
MonsterVine was supplied with a PS4 code for review
Described as a cyberpunk Hotline Miami, Disjunction is something of an action game with RPG elements. The art and atmosphere appealed to me, so I figured I had to check Disjunction out. While it has strong art and fun ideas, a lot of the design is rough and cumbersome, making gameplay feel tedious at times.
You play as three different characters in the year 2048: Frank, Joe, and Spider. Each character has their own reasons for sneaking around enemy bases and killing or subduing all who dwell within them, from paid contracts to a dead daughter who needs avenging. Each character can choose different dialogue options throughout the game which change the reactions they get from other characters. The story keeps your interest fairly steadily, but the setting is where the game really shines.
The real star of Disjunction is New York itself. The world-building and background story is quite interesting, and the game’s unique feature of letting you read up on important terms as soon as you hear about them lets you stay in the loop and get invested in the world of Disjunction. There are a lot of intriguing concepts throughout the story, so being able to get more information on them as they’re mentioned is a great feature.
“It’s definitely harder to do a non-lethal run, which I appreciate as you can somewhat choose your own difficulty depending on how you go about playing the game.“
The gameplay of Disjunction is pretty straightforward. You run around from a top-down perspective and attack enemies with non-lethal melee strikes and distant lethal gun attacks. Each character has their own unique abilities that allow them to take on enemies in their own ways, which keeps the game from feeling tired after finishing a couple of stages as one character. Sneaking is understandably slow, which can get annoying later in the game but is largely satisfying. It’s definitely harder to do a non-lethal run, which I appreciate as you can somewhat choose your own difficulty depending on how you go about playing the game.
You can trigger checkpoints at certain parts of each level, which save the state of the area, including which enemies are down, how much health you have, etc.. The problem here is that it’s very easy to lock yourself into a bad situation, as enemies can kill you very quickly, and sneaking around the same area again and again after dying feels immensely frustrating. I found myself getting stuck on certain checkpoints for long periods of time because I didn’t know how repetitive the following section would be when I made the checkpoint, leading to attempt after attempt with no new checkpoint in sight. Throw in a couple of game crashes (which may have been fixed by the most recent patch,) and you have a frustrating experience.
A minor but substantial issue is that accidentally selecting New Game, which is the first option on the main menu, will immediately overwrite your file without any warning or notice. I had to replay a large chunk of the game because of this,
Visually, Disjunction is quite impressive to look at. The pixel art is detailed and full of style, as it nails the harsh tone of 2048’s New York. Even the less-detailed character sprites during gameplay tell you everything you need to know about the characters, from their posture to the way they attack foes. The synth-heavy music is perfect for the atmosphere, and the moody tone shifts are reminiscent of Blade Runner’s excellent soundtrack.
The Final Word
Disjunction has lots of potential and possibility, but it’s held back by some frustrating technical issues and design choices. It looks and sounds great, and the story is enjoyable enough to follow, it’s just not cohesive enough to keep you playing through its rough dips in quality.
MonsterVine Rating: 3 out of 5 – Average