Degrees Of Separation

Posted by GG Goblin On March - 6 - 2019

Separated by the elements.

 
To stand out in the puzzle platformer market, developers have to come up with interesting gimmicks, new gameplay elements that add something more than just hopping from one platform to another and pulling the occasional switch. More often than not, these gimmicks can make or break a game, and keeping the gimmicks simple is essential to keeping the audience. Moondrop Studios have managed to latch onto a very simple gimmick for their latest puzzle platformer Degrees of Separation with the idea that two characters that are total opposites and cannot come into contact with each other must work together to solve puzzles and progress. It’s quite an obvious idea, and is made far more interesting by the fact that these two characters are in love.

 
dos1 (Copy)

 
In Degrees of Separation, players will control both Ember and Rime, two characters in t a fantastical land that quickly come together and then must use their individual powers to make their way through the levels and collect scarves. While buddy games are not that rare, what makes Degrees of Separation interesting is that the two characters are constantly kept apart by a strange force and their own elemental powers. Ember is a being of heat and fire, able to melt ice and bathe the world in a warm glow. Rime, on the other hand, is the embodiment of cold, freezing pools of water into traversable platforms and giving his surroundings a chilled atmosphere. Using these two characters, who are constantly separated by a wall that splits the screen according to where the characters are, players will have to make their way through various levels, finding hidden scarves and working out how to retrieve them.

 
This is where the puzzle aspect comes in, as the player will find themselves switching between the two characters as they use their abilities to heat things up, or cool them down, to have one of the characters reach a scarf. Collecting these scarves will allow the player to progress to the next area, but fortunately the player will not need to collect all of the scarves in an area to proceed. This is beneficial because some of the scarves are in seemingly impossible to reach places and will have many players screaming in frustration as they fail to reach them. So, aside from the completionists who will likely pull their hair out to gather every single scarf, most players will be able to comfortably leave the occasional scarf and still progress in the game.

 
dos2 (Copy)

 
While most of the levels have a straight forward path from start to finish, there are plenty of branching paths that will need to be explored fully to find the scarves. Players can switch between the two characters to control them, or they can even push the other character along to a degree using the wall that separates them. Of course, it is also possible for the AI to at least keep the uncontrolled character close to the controlled one. However, the AI doesn’t seem to be the smartest in the world, especially when the two characters are operating on different floors, for example, and so the player will probably end up switching often between the two. The ideal solution is to play the game with a friend in co-op, which works very well and does make some of the scarf collecting puzzles that little bit easier. But the game still functions and works well as a single player title if required.

 
As the player progresses through the first level, they will use the two sets of powers to melt puddles or solidify pools, or to heat lanterns and make them rise, for example. It’s all fairly straight forward to begin with, although the solutions to reaching some places may remain hidden for a while. However, when the player moves to another level, they will discover a new mechanic to play around with as each level comes with its own mechanic, such as using the separating barrier as a solid platform. This keeps the game fresh and interesting, although there is not much by way of guidance so players will have to work out the new mechanic and how to use it for themselves. The only downside is that there are only a few levels, and so only a few new abilities to play with.

 
The visuals in Degrees of Separation really are the star of the show. It is a beautifully created world, and the way that the world changes between the two characters and their radiating auras really makes it special. On Ember’s side of the screen, the world is colourful and filled with warm reds and oranges, while Rime’s side is darker, all greys and blues. The result is a world that is split between two seasons, and it looks great. The sound work is also great, with a narrator expanding the story and the growing relationship between Ember and Rime, and a calming soundtrack that adds atmosphere to the gameplay.

 
dos3 (Copy)

 
Degrees of Separation is a game that was obviously designed to be played in co-op, and is at its best when done so. The core gimmick is clever and gives rise to puzzles that massively range in difficulty. It is also very beautiful and, aside from a few little glitches, runs really well. However, the main task of collecting scarves does tend to drag after a while, and lone players will get frustrated with the AI. Repetition aside, if there is room on your couch for two, then Degrees of Separation may be worth checking out.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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Set to launch for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on March 15th.

 

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