Preview: Degrees of Separation

I’ll tell you something: I wasn’t all that impressed by Degrees of Separation when I first booted the game up after taking on preview duties. First impressions are often the most important, so it struck me as odd that the game didn’t want me to have much fun for the first 10 minutes or so. Thankfully I have seen the light and I am now a believer. I really like the game!

Degrees of Separation is, at its heart, a puzzle game. Sure, you run and jump and climb, but they’re just parts of the puzzle. The other parts of the puzzle are the game’s two characters, Rime and Ember.

Rime and Ember are a pair of poor souls who love one another but can’t interact with each other physically because they both occupy different versions of the same world. Ember’s world is warm and full of life, whereas Rime’s world is cold, desolate, and generally just a bit sad. Their conflicting worlds keep them apart, but they are a vital part to solving the game’s puzzles. While Ember may easily pass through a bit of water, Rime can only walk above it as it is frozen in his world. Similarly, Ember’s world lights torches that activate levers and lifts and so on, but Rime’s doesn’t. The trick is getting the characters into the right place at the right time, though this can sometimes be easier said than done.

See, as you move the characters around – you can switch between them at will once you’ve passed the opening – the game’s world changes depending on where they currently are. You may need to move one to the other side of the screen, or above the other character, or even below. It’s difficult at first but I soon got the hang of it and when you do, you start looking at the game in a different light. No pun intended…

However, there are some challenges that are out of your control. As well as being able to switch between characters whenever you please, you can also call the other character to come to your location. It’s a requirement at times and for the most part it works. Sometimes, though, the A.I would just completely faff around and not do what I wanted it to do. For instance, I wanted Rime to follow me and to climb the rope adjacent to me so that we can continue on our adventure. He had other ideas, mainly standing stupidly while looking up at the rope or obstacle I wanted him to climb. A bit nudging and switching between characters solves this, but it’s still a bit of an annoying interruption to the flow of gameplay.

On the graphics front, Degrees of Separation is a lovely looking game. Sure it’s simple, but the start contract between the characters’ worlds is impressive and I found myself moving back and forth just to see the differences. Mind you, I should mention that the preview I played was of a PC build of the game. However, given the game’s simplistic graphics, I can’t envision there being any difference between playing the game on PC at max settings/1080p, and on a regular PS4.

I’ve only played an hour or so of Degrees of Separation, and before that I’d never even heard of the game, but I’m quietly optimistic that this will turn out to be another decent addition to the PS4’s library of innovative indies. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for this one if you’ve got a soft spot for thoughtful platformers.

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