Having to spend more time at home because of Covid-19, my husband and I was trying to find things that we could do to help us fight boredom and allow us to spend time with each other. While I love reading, my husband does not care to spend his time with books. We both enjoy watching tv, but sometimes you want to do more than just sit on the couch watching a show or movie play out. Thankfully the Playstation store had a sale going on and we found a puzzle game that seemed interesting and decided to check it out.
A little information on the game:
Title: Degrees of Seperation
Genre: Platformer, Puzzle, Multiplayer
Developer: Moondrop Studios
Release Date: February, 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Degrees of Separation is a 2D puzzle platformer in which duo Ember and Rime must use their contrasting powers to manipulate heat and cold to overcome obstacles. Through cooperation, they will learn about each other and the fate of their worlds.
Developed with both solo and co-op play in mind, players will discover a touching narrative crafted by acclaimed industry veteran Chris Avellone. With Ember’s mastery of heat and Rime’s control of cold, scenic landscapes will come alive as the pair uses their unique abilities alone and in tandem to create powerful gusts of wind, frozen rivers, controlled explosives, and more to solve a variety of puzzles through several distinct worlds. With their unique talents, the two will learn to lean on each other through the many different stages of their adventure and relationship.
With what is going on in the world today, it is nice to find something that allows you to have a moment of fun with someone. Degrees of Separation is a game that is able to be played solo, but the true enjoyment of this game comes from working on this game with a partner. If I was to compare this game to something to try and help explain it, I would have to go with a children’s book. The calming music, beautifully animated world and characters, along with a story of a quest gives the feeling of a story you would read to a child at bedtime. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. In fact, I think that is what I really liked about this game.
I want to take a moment to get into a few points that I liked and a few I didn’t quite love. There really won’t be any spoilers for this game or the story, but if you would like to go into the game without knowing anything, please stop reading here until you have time to play it!
**At the time I post this, the game is currently on sale until 7-9-20**
Things I enjoyed about the game:
Art- When you are staring at a screen for hours to complete a game, having something decent to look at is always a plus. This game knocked it out of the park in my opinion. This may not have the most updated realistic graphics that several new games try to compete with, but the animation on this game is one of the reasons I wanted to play it. The colors work so well together, and I love how the contrast between warm and cool is always at play. Every part of the artwork, from the characters to the environment is outstanding.
Music – The music that plays in the background is lovely. There is almost a fairytale feeling to the sounds that play as you go on the adventure with Ember and Rime. My husband made a comment that he has been stuck trying to figure puzzles out in games and sometimes the music can drive you crazy, but with this game that was never the case. It might not be an award winning soundtrack, but it fit the game perfectly and I know I enjoyed it.
Puzzles – A puzzle game is only as good as it’s puzzles. Thankfully, this game gave a decent variety with it’s puzzles. There were several that were maybe a little too easy and could be figured out pretty quickly, but you also came upon some puzzles that could cause a little bit more brain power to work out. The difficulty was never enraging, and the only complaints came when we knew what to do, but hit the button at the wrong time during a jump or missed something obvious. The added change of each world also helped the fun. Once you enter a new world of the game, the characters would have a unique ability that was new. Getting to use a different method instead of the same style helped keep the game interesting.
Split Screen- Growing up, I hated playing 2 player games because the screen would split. This game takes a unique spin on that idea with the split screen incorporated into the game play. This was a unique aspect of the game that I loved the most. Having to solve puzzles by knowing when to use Ember’s world and when to use Rime’s was such a refreshing way to play. Honestly, I would love to see more games use something like this. The beautiful design of the world changing as you moved each player was breath taking. Plus adding the barrier that kept Ember and Rime apart as a tool to help in one level was a fun idea! (Except the one world that kept exploding when Ember and Rime got close to each other. That was sort of a pain.)
Now I want to go over a little bit of the things I didn’t quite love from this game. This might be a little different, because it’s not points that I truly hated, but I felt could have done a little better.
Things that could have been better:
Story- When I watched the trailer for the game, one of the points mentioned as a selling point was the story. As the game started I was excited to see what story this was going to be. I loved the idea that we had 2 different main characters that need to find a way to be together. The game started a promising idea, and yet I felt like I didn’t quite get the amazing story I was promised. The story that was there was nice, as I mentioned before it reminded me of a bedtime story, but I feel like there was a missed opportunity. We get very little information about either of the characters, and the story we do get is basically just the puzzles being explained. The story that begins with Ember and Rime meeting and trying to find a way to finally be together just doesn’t live up to my hopes at the end. But there is a Dragon so I guess it gets extra points for that!
Narration- To help add to that storybook element, I have to say I enjoyed the fact that we do get actual voice narration. The speaker, Kira Buckland, did an amazing job, and her voice truly added to the game. Unfortunately, to no fault of her own, sometimes the narration was a little unneeded or wrong. Like most puzzles, there may not be just one way to solve it. This wouldn’t be bad, except the story would have Ember doing an action, that I actually used Rime to complete. Not a huge deal, but it did throw me off a few times. There was also an issue of basically being told by the narrator events we just did. As an example, there might be a point where Ember and Rime have to climb a hill to get to the puzzle. You are already controlling the characters doing this action and when you get to the bottom the narration kicks in telling the player that Ember and Rime just climbed a hill. At times it could be very repetitive and honestly didn’t add much to the story at the time. But other than those two small negatives, I really enjoyed this part of the game.
Re-playablility – As much as we enjoyed this game, my husband and I both agreed on one thing: It is not that re-playable. We tried to make the game last longer by making sure to complete the entire game by collecting all the scarves (which is optional) but once we finished the game, that was it. The story was not deep enough to require a second play through, the uniqueness of the puzzles kind of end once you figure it out, and there was no real draw to play again. In all honesty, if we had payed the full price for this game it would cause me to feel like I had wasted a little too much money. Being able to play a game multiple times is what helps me not feel guilty about spending money on a game, and this is not a game I want to play over and over. Maybe after a good amount of time has passed we can try and tackle the game again to see if it will still be fun, but for now it is a one time game for us.
In the end, I would definitely say this was a game I really enjoyed. Although I don’t see myself playing it more than once, I would add this to the list of games I recommend to others. The artistic beauty was well worth the play, and although the story was not the best I still thing it was cute. The unique idea of using the split screen was a wonderful idea and though it was not extremely difficult the puzzles were fun. If you do play this game I highly recommend playing it in multiplayer mode instead of single. Taking the time to control each character with a friend or love one is what truly makes this game shine. Fun for a few hours of play, especially during this time!
Looking for something else that might give you the same feeling as Degrees of Separation? Though not a long list, here are a few options:
Overcooked – The ideas are completely different, but they are both games that are fun to play co-op. Both are games that cause all players involved to work together and at times can be funny or frustrating depending on who you are playing with. Each has a story that plays out during the game, but neither is super deep but enjoyable all the same.
Avatar The Last Airbender- Maybe just because I really love this show, but I think I can find a way to recommend this show with this game. In both there is a use of elements and having to find balance to make things work in the end. ATLA uses more elements and definitely has a much larger story, but I still had moments where I could see a similar feeling with both. And both the show and game has a dragon, that should count for something right?
Air Awakens – Like my reason for Avatar, Air Awakens is not completely the same as the story of the game, but there is a little bit of a comparison. The world involves people that use elemental powers, but the MCs are Air and Fire. Although not the same as Fire and Ice, I still think there is a similar feel. Not to mention, like DoS, the MCs are from different worlds, while one is a prince the other is a librarian. Both are stories about trying to find a way to live together.
Romeo and Juliet – I am not the biggest fan of this story, but I can’t help but think there is a similar theme with the star-crossed lovers. Both are about a guy and a girl that want to be together but the world they live in is keeping them apart. DoS is by far a way lighter story and not as emotional, but if you want something a bit on the classic side about 2 people trying to be together I would guess this would work.
Have you played this game? Do you plan to? Any recommendation on co-op games you think I would enjoy? Please let me know any thoughts in the comments!