Not often do we see a puzzle game passing by that’s unique enough in its aesthetic to be noticeable. The platforming puzzle formula has been visited and re-visited more times than you can shake a stick at, which is why it’s imperative to do something to stand out against the masses.
When I first saw pictures of Degrees of Separation, I didn’t quite understand the concept outside of the fact that you are controlling two individuals and using their “partnership” to solve puzzles. The artwork was ok though, so I decided to bite.
Going into the game, you have the option to play by yourself, you can usher in a friend or even better, your significant other for co-op! You play as Ember and Rime. Both characters live in the same plane of existence, but in separate dimensions. Rime lives in a dimension that looks cold and desolate. The castle scenery is as if you are in the dead of winter. Any kind of source of water is completely frozen. There is snow everywhere and it just gave me the feeling that I needed to wrap myself in a blanket (i.e it’s what the North East in the United States currently looks like). Your other main character is Ember. She comes from a land that is warm and beautiful; Think of a calm late Spring/ early Summer morning, God knows that this reviewer is thinking of this kind of setting EVERY SINGLE DAY. The colours are beautiful and unlike Rimes world, the lakes are unfrozen.
As you get to know your characters and the world they inhabit, they will eventually meet (about 10 minutes into the game) and you realize that despite being in different dimensions, they are in the same plane of existence. I know weird this all sounds, but trust me, it makes sense when you are playing! While it is quickly apparent that these characters are the complete opposite, you get the notion of what the developers are pushing towards as it is quickly apparent that to traverse the world, these two characters are going to have to work together in their separate dimensions.
One of the nicest parts of the game is that it doesn’t matter which character you decide to play the game with; you don’t have to worry about big boss fights or any overly difficult platforming bits, there is no way to die so go ahead and fall off that top ledge, you are safe!
The whole point of the game is to use the separate world’s environments attributes as an advantage to solve the world’s platforming puzzles. There will be parts where you need a frozen lake to get to one of the many collectable scarves. Perhaps you need Ember’s warm world to activate the blowholes to blow you up to a ledge. You will equally use both characters world’s to further yourself in the world of scarf collecting.
To move from “level” to level, scarf collecting is key. This is not something I felt was told very well and was rather something I just figured out early on. You definitely want to try and complete as many of the puzzles as possible to collect these buggers. Thankfully most of the puzzles are simple enough, but from time to time you will randomly stumble on a puzzle which will really test all the clever bones in your body. The challenge is fine and all, but the issue I had with this was that it felt so inconsistent. Some of these puzzles at the very beginning of the game were real head-scratchers, whereas later in the game, puzzles were solvable within a minute or two.
In the world of Degrees of Separations, you will quickly see the theme is how opposites attract and that no matter what, any two individuals can work together for the greater good. I really enjoyed this concept and also enjoyed the way this played into puzzle solving. With that being said, some of the puzzles felt like you had to be too precise to solve them and this led to frustration.
I really liked the direction of Degrees of Separations, it’s art style is unique, and despite the flaws, the is gameplay fun.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*