The cyberpunk genre is more strongly represented in the video game world than ever before – at least that's how it feels thanks to CD Projekt Reds Cyberpunk 2077. But big titles like Detroit: Become Human or Watch Dogs: Legion had already appeared before that. Only recently, the course game Ghostrunner was able to convince in our test. Whether the immense shit storm of Cyberpunk 2077 has also dampened interest in the genre remains to be seen in the next few months. All those who still can't keep their hands off neon glowing dystopias should keep an eye on Disjunction by Ape Tribe Games. The stealth game with retro style has a fascinating game world to offer in addition to the motivating gameplay.
The year is 2048. After the global economic collapse a few years ago, the United States is slowly but surely recovering. The traces of this catastrophe are still noticeable: Due to the immense unemployment rate, more and more accommodation for the homeless was built in New York City's Central Park. Violence and substance abuse soon flourished in the former green heart of the Big Apple. The immense park, which has since been renamed Central City, soon split off from the actual city and gained more and more autonomy.
Meanwhile, rival gangs are fighting each other, the NYPD is overwhelmed with the high crime rate and the pressure on the mayor is increasing to allow private companies to help fight crime. We follow the events of three characters who, in this world full of corruption and violence, want one thing above all else: Justice. Their intentions are fundamentally different. The private detective Frank wants to get an innocent Central City leader out of jail, while the muscular Joe with his metal arm and jaw wants to avenge his deceased daughter and the hacker Spider wants to save her gang, which is threatened with disintegration.
Predictable and yet so good
Source: PC Games
The story of Disjunction sticks to typical cyberpunk themes: What does it mean to be human? What happens when companies become more powerful than the three political pillars? Although the wheel is never reinvented, it can still convince due to the detailed background story and the dense atmosphere. The story is unfortunately quite predictable, which is why the big twist in the end isn't really surprising. How we end disjunction, however, is up to us. Again and again the game presents us with dialog options in which we have to decide about the life and death of different characters. Whether we kill our opponents in the level or not kill them, in some moments it can lead to different conversations and game endings. The replay value increases significantly as a result.
Source: PC Games
In Disjunction we sneak through the levels from the iso perspective in typical stealth game fashion. At the push of a button, we hunched over, so that our opponent's field of vision appears and we move as quiet as a mouse. Of course, the shadow is also our friend, as our opponents see us worse in the dark places. However, these are quite rare in Disjunction, the only shadows are directly on the boxes, cupboards and other objects. So we have to plan our approach carefully before we hunt down the first opponents. We always have to decide whether to knock them out in close combat, bypass them completely, or shoot them from a distance. However, one shot is loud and scares the rest of the enemies, quickly finding ourselves in a chaotic shootout. Our characters are easily vulnerable and the opponents are numerous. Open combat is rarely a good idea, even with Joe who is intended for it. In addition, the memory points on the card are not particularly numerous, which is why a slow but controlled approach is usually more useful. So we prefer to watch the opponents walk and adapt our tactics. With so many different human and metallic opponents, it never gets boring.
In addition to the standard actions such as sneaking, hitting and shooting, our characters also have different skills that support certain play styles. At the push of a button, Spider can make himself invisible for a short time and thus walk through the enemy's field of vision, while broad Joe can sprint forward and blow every opponent standing in the way with his metal arm. This definitely offers variety. However, these special abilities cost part of our limited energy, which is why we should weigh carefully whether we can eliminate the bad guys without this help. Fortunately, our opponents drop ammunition and batteries at one point or another. The latter fills up our energy a little.
Source: PC Games
The level structure is almost always the same in Disjunction: The surroundings are divided into different rooms, which are connected by tubular, mostly enemy-free corridors. Often, however, we can penetrate the hostile contaminated areas from different entrances, which enables different approaches. In order to reach the next level section, a key card lying around is typically required, which must first be found. In addition, there are some interesting newspaper clippings and letters lying around that give us an even deeper look into the world of disjunction. Unfortunately, due to the many corridors and similar rooms, we had orientation problems from time to time. A small map that reveals itself as you explore would have been very helpful.
Source: PC Games
If we want to improve our character, we can use the upgrade kits hidden in the level collect and thus unlock various talents and upgrades in a clear skills tree for the next mission. While the talents usually only trigger small changes such as a ten percent increase in gun damage, upgrades can change the special abilities of our protagonists. Frank's smoke bomb, for example, not only blocks the enemy's view, but also damages them. But if you want to change your way of playing in the next level, you can redistribute the selected upgrades and talents without problems before the mission.
Synthetic 80s music for that full blade runner feeling
Source: PC Games
When we look over the roofs of New York City in cutscenes and the sun goes down in an impressive shade of orange, then Disjunction is playing with its pixelated graphic muscles. Unfortunately, we don't experience many of these wonderful moments because most of the time it takes place in the dreary, gray buildings. While genre colleagues like Cyberpunk 2077 and film greats like Blade Runner bring some color to the otherwise bleak worlds with neon colors and glowing billboards, Disjunction remains largely colorless. But the soundtrack with the typical synthetic tones is a real delight for the ears and contributes a lot to the atmosphere. The game wasn't set to music, but that didn't bother us for a second thanks to the well-written dialogues.
A fascinating and detailed world with a lot of atmosphere, interesting and personable characters and a varied and fun gameplay: Disjunction does a hell of a lot right. It is easy to overlook one or the other weaknesses such as the predictable story or the mostly dreary environment.
Disjunction will be released on January 28th on PC and the PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch consoles. If you want to get a first impression yourself, you can play the stealth game with the free demo.
I want a book about this game world!
Disjunction has a motivating gameplay, an entertaining (if predictable) story and exciting characters. But by far the most impressive is the detailed and fascinating game world, about which I would like to see one or the other game or book. The few negative points are particularly quickly forgotten when we sneak from opponent to opponent with great concentration. Any Cyberpunk 2077 frustration is swept away!
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