GamingReview: Disjunction

Review: Disjunction

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Disjunction is a stealth-action game that takes place in a dystopian New York City in the year 2048. The game tells a story about three strangers that find themselves involved in a massive conspiracy right at the centre of New York City. Although it’s not directly touched upon, the whole narrative revolves around the societal struggles of the world after the biggest economic crisis since The Great Depression. It lightly touches on subjects such as transhumanism and the rapid evolution of technology, which leads to mass unemployment with the rise of automation and so on.  Still, I found the actual story within this world to be quite predictable, with no interesting twists or surprises. Luckily, Disjunction’s gameplay does have some redeeming qualities that might make it worth checking out.

At its core, Disjunction is a stealth-action game, but sometimes it does feel like it tries to delve into something that’s a little more focused on the narrative. However, the game doesn’t push that deep in that realm. Despite featuring an interesting backdrop, I felt that the actual main story pales in comparison. All dialogue is text-based, and the game does provide some dialogue choices for players to choose from. Unfortunately, the game isn’t really clear if most of them have any impact on how the story unfolds. 

Disjunction’s playable characters come from different backgrounds, but they share something in common, they’ve all lost something or someone. You’ll get to play as a private investigator, as an ex-military, and as an underground hacker. Each character has their own set of abilities that they can employ to aid them during missions. These abilities range from stun and smoke grenades, a taser, holoprojections to distract enemies, invisibility, amongst a couple of others. With that said, you can’t really choose which character you want to take with you on the next mission, as each character plays out their own story arc independently.

Surprisingly, these character abilities can be used both if you’re playing stealthily or if you’re someone who’s more action-oriented. In spite of that, I feel that the fact that abilities require energy points to be used to be detrimental. The fact that you have a limited energy pool that doesn’t automatically regenerate, just means that you’ll do your best to avoid using any abilities. As a consequence of that, I didn’t really use abilities that much, because I’d always do my best to save them in case I’d find myself in a tough spot. With that said, I do feel like Disjunction stealth is much more robust than its action, particularly because you can hide in the shadows and drag bodies. Also, by sneaking around, you not only move around silently, but you’re also able to visualize your enemy’s vision cone. This works really well with the game’s perspective, as it gives it a more tactical feeling. From my experience, if you just go in guns blazing, you’ll have a lot of trouble staying alive for long. 

Nonetheless, it’s worth pointing out that, currently, there is no way to adjust the difficulty of the game. Given the fact that you can opt for a stealth approach pretty much throughout the entire game, or at least some way to avoid direct confrontation, I wouldn’t really say that this is a difficult game though. If you take it slowly and don’t rush it, if you sneak around and plan how you’ll engage or evade each enemy, the game is pretty accessible, especially since you can easily stun lock enemies by repeatedly hitting them with your melee attack. On the other hand, if you’re the sort of person that prefers to go in guns blazing and dropping bodies left and right, then the game unquestionably is much more challenging.

Now, one of the problems that I have with Disjunction is how it handles saves. There’s only 1 spot in each level where you can save, and they can only be used once. To be honest, I don’t quite understand why this works the way it does, because if it’s to be challenging, then it just feels like an artificial way to make the game more difficult. If anything, it’s just annoying. Ideally, anyone should be able to save any game whenever and wherever they wanted to, without having to be constrained by such game design choices. In any case, for me, this wasn’t that really of an issue apart from the final level, where it actually is quite frustrating since the level is quite big and heavily guarded. However, I can’t shake the feeling that some people might dislike the way the save system works, especially since they’re scarce.

Other than that, one of the weakest points of Disjunction is definitely the lack of mission variety. Every single mission can be boiled down to a single simple loop: go in, gest past enemy patrols, acquire keycards to open doors, get to the objective, and then the mission automatically ends. Furthermore, while each level does tend to look visually different from each other, they still feel and play out exactly the same. All the missions take place in enclosed buildings, and despite the visual differences that I’ve mentioned above, the game could very well take place in a single sky-scrapper for all I know, since you can’t see anything else around you. 

Be that as it may, there are actually upgrade kits in each level, in the form of side-objectives. These can then be used to unlock ability-specific upgrades before each mission. Still, these upgrades aren’t permanent, meaning that you can alternate between them as you see fit without fear of committing to a specific playstyle. Likewise, there are also non-permanent talents that you can purchase with experience points, which you naturally acquire by completing missions, However, unlike upgrades, these are more specific to your character and not their abilities. They include things such as increased attack speed and increased movement speed while sneaking. 

Finally, I’d also like to point out that there also isn’t that much to Disjunction in terms of enemy variety. There are a few enemies that have melee weapons, while others have firearms, but there are also turrets and cameras, as well as 4 different types of robots that populate the levels. There might not be that many of them, but I have to say that they fit the layouts of the levels and the pacing of the game quite well. Therefore, I didn’t find the number of enemy types to be detrimental to the whole experience.

Now, for some reason, the game runs pretty bad if you happen to have a high refresh rate monitor, no matter what hardware you have. Unfortunately for me, even after lowering my refresh rate from 144Hz to 60Hz (which seems to be the only fix for people with these issues), I wasn’t always able to fix this problem and my game still stuttered pretty badly. The frame rate would fluctuate from 40 to 60, which made the camera movement extremely choppy. 

At the end of the day, there really isn’t much that Disjunction does that well, but it also isn’t terrible in any field by any stretch of the imagination. In other words, I can’t necessarily say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I also didn’t dislike it. This is one of those polarizing games from what I’ve seen, where some people seem to thoroughly enjoy it, while others, like myself, are indifferent to it. Don’t get me wrong, Disjunction is a decent enough game for what it is, but it doesn’t break any new ground nor does anything exciting or riveting. After the 9 hours that it took me to beat the game, I can safely say that it felt like the game outstayed its welcome. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of stealth games who wants to play every single game out there, you’re probably better off waiting for a sale if you happen to have any interest in it.

SUMMARY

+ Great worldbuilding
+ Fun gameplay focused on stealth
+ Spot on soundtrack and soundscape
- Annoying checkpoint system
- No incentive to use abilities
- All the missions feel the same
- Runs poorly on high refresh rate displays

(Reviewed on PC, also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch)
Davide Roriz
Just a random guy who enjoys writing about the games that he plays. Into cats, Warhammer, PC hardware, and pretty much all forms of media.

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