Divide is a rather tragic story.
I don’t mean to say that the story is especially tragic in the way of a classic Greek tragedy, I mean that the gameplay cannot possible live up to the epic score and writing present throughout the game.
An engrossing plot:
Divide bills itself as a character driven adventure game. This is a fair assessment. Throughout the game, you control David as he deals with a crazy turn of events that leaves him without his daughter. Let me explain.
The first scene of the game takes place. You are given a single directive: Run! And so you do.
After the action scene clears up, we are taken back in time. It’s in the past where we hangout with our daughter as a single father and learn that our late wife’s passing may have had something to do with an apparently evil corporation she worked for. Her former co worker contacts David, and the two meet.
David recieves a suitcase from the co-worker, Alton, and later discovers that it houses some kind of glasses which reveal secrets about the world to him. An orb in the suitcase freaks out, and David is transported to a place looking like the space ship from the original Alien.
From here, David meets a woman who is fighting an oppressive government, and the two work together to get away from the evil corporation.
In some ways, this plot may seem kind of weak. The writing and intricacies of the character interaction make the story compelling, even if the frame is an over glorified version of helping a man find his daughter and get to his own time.
Great sound design brings Divide to life:
One thing that puts Divide on another level is the sound design. In particular, I am talking about the score.
The music in Divide is some of the best I can remember in any video game, let alone the first indie title put out by a new studio. The music is epic and harsh and sparing and beautiful. Depending on the scene of the game, the music is there to match and make the chase, the pursuit or even the train ride even better.
The sound design for various sound effects is also top notch. When opening the menu or interacting with something in the world, you get different and satisfying sounds.
The game is also fully voice acted, and the main characters, Eris and David, are done pretty well. Some supporting characters aren’t as strong, but being that they aren’t in the entire game, that is less annoying.
Clunky game play:
The part of Divide that really brings it down for me was the actual gameplay.
Starting with the gameplay loop, I found the actual way you progress through the game to be very tedious. With Eris, you find a locus, which is basically a big computer terminal, and hack into it. From there, you search on your own for the proper information and tools to move the plot forward. After you search the right room, an action sequence will follow. Rinse and repeat.
The gameplay loop itself might not even be the biggest problem if not for weak controls.
The game is an isometric adventure game. You get a gun which shoots electric blasts at enemies. I found that it was incredible difficult to aim these shots, and often wound up dead pretty easily thanks to the low damage threshold on the player. You are encouraged to sneak through the game, and combat serves a kind of last resort purpose.
Otherwise, you move through the world, which mostly is an abandoned facility, using the right stick to look around and see things hidden in the world. These can be robot paths, hackable computers and anything else you could imagine finding in a futuristic world. The controls work when you aren’t being shot at by robots and soldiers, though.
You gain access to new locations by finding security keys and “hashes,” which act like door and computer unlocking money. These get annoying when you use them for almost everything and can no longer find more.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I enjoyed my time with Divide. When I was playing, though, I looked towards the story, the great writing and the music to keep me interested. The game play itself is the definite low-point of the game for me.
Just because the gameplay didn’t mesh for me, doesn’t mean the game is bad, though. Everything except the game play stands up, here. If Exploding Tuba LLC betters their next game on these examples, I can’t wait to see what they bring us next.
Divide, January 31 2017
This review was done based on a copy of the game supplied by the publisher.