Disjunction junction, what’s your function (reference, if you didn’t get it)? Joking and references aside, the function of Ape Tribe Games’ Disjunction is to unravel a mystery within a dystopian environment. Taking place in a cyberpunk version of New York, the year is 2048, and human civilization is hanging on by a thread. Reeling from a recent economic crisis, effects of global warming, and corrupt leadership (hard to imagine, huh?), the game drops you in the middle of a violent plot.
Initially, you assume the role of Frank. Frank is a private investigator tasked with figuring out why an innocent, local leader was arrested and most likely framed. Shortly after, the story introduces the playable character, Joe. Joe is a human with some cyborg body parts who is still reeling from the unsolved murder of his daughter. Finally, the last playable character is Spider. Spider is a hacker with family ties to one of the main organizations in the game. Collectively, the three have to work together to unravel what is going on, and who is pulling the strings.
Disjunction utilizes a pixel art presentation that is reminiscent of the 16-bit era. It feels a lot like Contra 3: The Alien Wars during the occasional newscast sequences between gameplay. However, it plays more like the recent Hotline Miami series. With a top-down view and wave upon wave of aggressive enemies, it’s hard to not compare the two.
However, Disjunction differentiates itself not only with its setting and story, but its slower gameplay that favors stealth mechanics. By sneaking around, the player can see an enemy’s line of vision. If you stand in their line of vision too long, they will come directly at you with full force. Players can attempt to rush through areas guns blazing, but probably won’t get very far in doing so. Luring enemies by leaving incapacitated bodies in their line of sight might also work in the beginning, but not as the game goes on. And by beating levels and collecting semi-hidden capsules, character abilities can be upgraded prior to the start of the next level. This all leads to quite a bit of variety in the approach to a level and finding your way to the finish line. But is Disjunction worth your time and money?
For players that find Hotline Miami too difficult, Disjunction is more accessible and less punishing. That’s not to say Disjunction is easy, because it’s definitely not. With that in mind, enemies are easier to take out, there’s a decent amount of item drops throughout each level, a fairly generous checkpoint system, and player upgrades that all work in the player’s favor. Initially, the music seemed either non-existent or too passive. Yet as the levels and game went on, the music became more active and fitting. It’s as if the music crescendoed and cadenced over the course of the game.
The biggest issue playing Disjunction was the controls. At times, it would feel stiff and not register attacks, leading to taking unnecessary damage. One issue in particular though was that for some reason, the menu button is mapped to the left control stick. So during frenzied combat sequences (which are frequent), an accidental press would lead to the map popping up while you’re trying to move around.
After a while, the game becomes pretty tedious. Regardless of which character you’re playing as, each level plays out the same way: navigate around or through bad guys and find the exit door. There are no bosses, and after the fifth level or so, you’ve seen all the enemies that the game has to offer. Another issue is that there is no chapter select. Therefore, if a collectible was missed or there was a desire to play a specific level again, you would have to play the entire game again. Finally, the world building and story seemed interesting at first, but it doesn’t tell a strong enough story to merit all the text that the game unloads on the player.
Overall, Disjunction has its moments and charms, but nothing amazing ever happens. And with no incentive to replay levels or to do a second playthrough, it doesn’t have much staying power. Even if it’s easier than Hotline Miami, it’s no Hotline Miami. In fact, it’s not even God’s Trigger.
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