Divide, a top down/third person sci-fi adventure game that attempts to tell a compelling story, but is bogged down by ultimately disappointing combat and mechanics.
Developer: Exploding Tuba Studios
MonsterVine was given a PS4 code for review purposes
When I first saw the trailer for Divide I was excited, it looked like a promising little sci-fi adventure set in a dystopian world that I wanted to uncover more of. As a huge fan of sci-fi, the initial intro and beginning hour of the game was exactly what I wanted it to be, but in the hours that followed, this initial excitement quickly fell off.
Divide begins with a man named David, our protagonist, and his daughter Arly on a train traveling to see a coworker of our hero’s deceased wife. The dialogue is a little choppy, with weird pauses between characters speaking to one another, and the voice acting is a tad weak. It is hurt even more by the fact that the characters get generic stills shown in the bottom corners of the screen when talking to one another. The first hour of the game is mostly dialogue too, which grows tiring. Despite these problems, the initial David and Arly interactions, which are no doubt the games focus in the beginning, do a good job of establishing David as a likeable character. When we finally make it to our wife’s coworker he acts strange and mysteriously, giving us a case, and telling us that the company that he and our wife worked for had eyes everywhere. We make our way home, and attempt to open the strange case, inside is the solus device, which is an implant that allows David to see the world differently than he could before. The walls and shelves of his house suddenly hold secret files that David’s wife left behind, that uncover that her death was seemingly not the accident that it was believed to be, and that the company she worked for had something to do with it. A second device inside the case, the unit prime, is activated shortly after searching the house for clues which creates a rift, teleporting David to an unknown location and separating him from his daughter.
So right now you’re probably thinking to yourself “hey man, this sounds kind of cool, he gets crazy robot eye implants and gets teleported to the middle of nowhere and has no idea where his daughter is, and he needs to uncover the mystery behind his wife’s death” and I assure you, I felt the same way in this first hour, but as soon as you figure out where you were teleported to the game quickly slows down. The basic gist is that the unit prime device teleports David to an alternate time and reality, one that is dominated, and was destroyed by the company David’s wife worked for. Her company, Vestige, had figured out a way to travel between these two realities and make everything run through the solus device. After running through dark hallways and hacking some doors, David meets a woman, Eris, from the alternate reality that is trying to shut down the company that has brought pain and suffering to her world, and she needs your help because she doesn’t have a solus device.
From here David learns more about what he can do with the solus device, which basically just allows you to “hack” computers and terminals throughout the Vestige facility. The facility is broken up into sections, and to gain access to the next, you have to gain higher access through accessing an administrator’s terminal. To access doors and important terminals/computers you must use “hash tables” which can be collected from random, less crucial computers or vending machines throughout the areas. Roaming the hallways and rooms is the occasional drone, which can be hacked into submission by getting close, or zapped from a distance with a capacitor gun. Once you make your way to a server room, Eris informs you that you need higher access in order to move on and get deeper into the facility. She stays behind, and our job is to run from room to room, search for hash tables, and eventually gather enough to unlock that section’s administrator terminal. This involves running back and forth from room to room, through the same bland dark hallways over and over, going to one room to unlock a door in the room you were just in, having to run back, running out of hash tables, searching for more in rooms you already went to or missed, and so on and so on until you move to the games next section. After progressing to the next section I’d had hopes that the game would grow more complex or fun or tense, but it was the same thing as the last section, just with more drones, and rooms that looked slightly different.
The combat and mechanics in the game are pretty basic, and do not make the bland story or hallway running any more fun or compelling to continue doing after 4 hours straight of it. There is only one gun in the game, which is more of a stun gun than a gun that fires bullets. The capacitor gun shoots a bolt of electricity at a pretty good range, and it aims just like any other top down game, which is with the use of the right stick, relying on a laser to see where the shot will go. The main problem with this in Divide is that in most rooms it’s hard to see the aiming laser. Most rooms/hallways are dark or riddled with shadows, and the laser is a dark blue. It’s easy to lose where the laser is at, and miss a shot. Missing a shot wouldn’t be a problem if the gun had ammo and magazines akin to a real gun, but at the beginning of the game you get 1-2 shots, which take a long time to re-charge. When the shots do connect, they sometimes seemingly do nothing, taking 2-4 shots to get a kill. While on other occasions, it could kill an enemy in one shot, and no matter what I tried, it was always random as far as I could tell. The game does allow you to upgrade your gun as you progress, allowing you to add more ammo and recharge rates, but the upgrade system seems poorly thought out as well. You get the upgrades from random terminals or vending machines, but they always have 2 options, one that gets you more hash tables that you need to progress, or the upgrade. Once you pick what you want, you can no longer access the other one, so you have to choose between an upgrade to the mediocre firearm, or hash tables that help you progress.
Divide also has a problem with stuttering when loading into a new area. Anytime it needs to load the game just sort of freezes for a few seconds and then stutters back to normal. This wouldn’t be all that annoying if the game didn’t need to do it so often, basically every other room that you enter makes it happen. I also experienced 2 glitches that were especially annoying because they both made me have to restart my game. The first time was when I went to get behind a stack of boxes to grab a secret canister’s materials, I was able to get behind the boxes in the corner, but when I went to leave the corner I couldn’t get out. After a few moments of trying to get out I had to restart. The other glitch was when I died in combat, my screen went black like it always does when you die, except after 5 minutes it never stopped being black, requiring another restart.
The Final Word
Divide does a good job at placing you in a world shrouded in mystery with some interesting sci-fi elements to add to its appeal. Unfortunately it struggles with repetitive environments and gameplay, having very little change in the bland formula throughout its medium length story. Is it worth the twenty-five dollar price tag? Maybe wait for a sale on this title.
– MonsterVine Rating: 3 out of 5 – Average