Game Review #182: Degrees of Separation (Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Moondrop Studios
Publisher: Modus Games
Category: Platformer, Puzzle, Co-Op
Release Date: 02.14.2019
Price (at time of review): 19.99
Buy Degrees of Separation from the Nintendo eShop here.
A Storybook Romance
Degrees of Separation is an extremely pretty 2-D co-op puzzle platformer. Good God, I cannot stress how pretty this game is! Featuring an ongoing theme of duality due to the nature of its two main characters, Rime is from an ice kingdom and commands a power over it, and Ember is from the fire kingdom and, as well expected, has control over heat. These two come together early on in the game, and you must manage the effects their respective elements have on the environment in order to progress, solve puzzles, and find scarves for that sweet, sweet completion rating. While you do this, you get to listen to a beautifully narrated story that was written by industry vet Chris Avellone.
This is a game you are going to want to play next to a friend, although online co-op is also being added! It's a beautiful story that was engaging, both visually and from a story standpoint. If you are looking for high-octane platforming action, you aren't going to find it here, but if you are looking for a beautiful cinematic story about two people overcoming differences, while also doing some nicely-paced puzzle-solving that includes some REAL head scratchers, then you are going to LOVE Degrees of Separation a ton! Let's get into specifics, shall we?
Fire and Ice, Hot and Cold!
The main mechanic in this game is that the world is split between your two characters, and on their respective sides, everything is affected by that character’s element. While Ember is free to dip into the water to get under all kinds of objects and obstacles, Rime, when met with water, instead freezes the water, allowing him to jump up to higher places rather than going under them. Now, keep this mechanic in mind while I talk about the next. There are tons of machines that are operated by a lit paper lamp. Obviously, when faced with the intense cold Rime brings, these are not going anywhere; but when met with the warm flame that Ember brings, they will rise into the air, activating whatever mechanism it is associated with, be it moving platforms, pulleys falling down within reach, ready to be grabbed, or maybe even a platform rising from the water!
The developers took simple mechanics and combined them with others to create some puzzles with MANY steps that will take you a bit of time to figure out and get into the mindset you need to be to solve them. Remember the frozen water I spoke about? Imagine, you do a few things in order to get a pulley to fall down for ember to grab, since you had to use her heat to get it to fall, she grabs it and a platform emerges from the water, which she cannot get past without letting go of the pulley. What do you do? Well with Rime, he can move over the water and freeze it, which means that, even if Ember lets go of the pulley, the mechanism cannot fall into the water, allowing her to pass as long as the water remains frozen!
There is so many creative uses for the two elements, as well as many fun ways to combine them over multiple sets, that it really opens this game up for tons of varied puzzle solving that feeds into the narrative as well! This game shines in its co-op puzzle solving, and it impressed me far beyond what I expected it to do with its main mechanic!
Turn the Page, Take a Listen
This game is so visually pretty, with large sprawling environments and beautiful backgrounds. The game knows the perfect time to zoom your view out and focus on the storytelling as you see two versions of the same place while you move across bridges, over and under creeks, through castles, and more. Your adventure will show you many locales, and they never slack in creating a bright, sun-kissed look for Ember’s area in contrast to the drab, frozen atmosphere that Rime creates.
The person who narrates the story has a wonderful, calm voice, and did a fantastic job in creating an interesting and engaging tone for the story. I found myself fully attentive every time she spoke, and long spoken segments were met with very simple and pretty spaces for you to jump and run through on your way to the next bunch of puzzles.
The quality of the writing was very high as well. It wasn’t only the soothing voice speaking to me that impressed me, but the tone of the writing was just perfect. I was very into the story of these two individuals and what they were willing to do to get to their goal. I very much enjoyed the calming music played throughout, which would match perfectly, whether you were running through a castle or a forest. It was all very pleasant sounding and well composed, and even the sound effects were top notch as well.
A Game for Two
Degrees of Separation is an awesome game. Seriously, take a seat with someone with whom you are close to and give this game a real good go. I think you will enjoy it! Everything this game presents really comes together for a very enjoyable and unique experience that will absolutely have you scratching your head at some puzzles, even more so if you are trying to get all of the optional scarfs hidden behind puzzles as you go about. There were a few times I had to give up and move on after spending a good bit of time on the puzzle in order to see more of the game for this review! It provides a fun way to think, puzzle-wise, and I am always all about developers providing unique puzzling opportunities that cause you think of things in a different light, similar to how Portals made us all bend our minds to “Think with portals,” as they say! I give Degrees of Separation a red hot 10 out of 10, and an icy cool recommendation to PLAY IT!
Buy Degrees of Separation from the Nintendo eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Terminals