Divide, by Exploding Tuba Studios, offers a unique take on the isometric action sci-fi adventure with mixed results. Traveling through a future where corporations lay waste to the land and augmented reality tech lets players hack and scan their surroundings, the game features a couple good ideas, but also stumbles where it counts.
Developed and published by Exploding Tuba Studios
Available on the PS4.
*Review code provided by Exploding Tuba Studios
Divide tells the story of David, a father whose wife works for Vestige – a large, technology-focused corporation. After meeting up with a colleague of his spouse, who gives him a briefcase containing an experimental technology known as the Solus, David puts it on and wakes up in a world where Vestige has taken over the planet. Armed with the unique gadget and with his daughter Arly missing, David must find a way out of the mess and find his missing daughter, while fending off Vestige’s futuristic terrors and peacekeepers.
Divide‘s plot is interesting, but also a bit bland. The story develops as players explore the cold, abandoned corridors and rooms of the Vestige corporation and complete tasks, and while well-acted and sometimes exciting, it often loses its focus. The mystery of why David is there is a curious one that will have players push on through to see what is happening and how it will end, but it’s slow and occasionally boring throughout. There’s plenty of good ideas here, but they just weren’t developed well.
The gameplay is equally divisive. In Divide, players control David from an isometric third-person perspective, armed with the Solus that lets him see augmented reality prompts and manipulate the environment, as well as an energy gun that’ll destroy sentry bots and disable enemy soldiers. The controls are pretty simple (though extremely strange as players use the triggers instead of face buttons, which takes some getting used to), with players moving about with one stick while aiming with the other, and players can use the Solus to hack doors, collect currency, activate consoles and more. It’s mostly easy stuff.
Shooting at things however is an absolute nightmare. I got used to David’s slow movement speed, but the gun controls often made me want to smash my controller to bits. Players have to hold a button in order to equip the one-shot energy weapon, aim a nearly non-existent laser pointer as it’s pretty much invisible with the right stick, and hope it lands on its target as it seems to always miss. If you hit or don’t hit, you’ll have to wait a few seconds for the weapon to recharge in order to use it again, all the while accurate enemies are firing at you at the same time. Additionally, the weapon seems to need targets to be on the same level plane to hit, because apparently, David cannot adjust his aim up or down, even if an enemy is a couple of steps below on a staircase or higher on a ramp. It’s mind-boggling.
Thankfully, players are accompanied by Eris, a mysterious young woman who David meets as he traverses the halls of the Vestige complex. She can fend off for herself and fires off shots accurately and rapidly, so players will end up using her as much as possible to take out the scores of foes they’ll face.
The rest of the game boils down to exploring maze-like environments and looking for a way forward to the next objective. That usually entails hacking doors, computers and other terminals by using hashes, which are collected by hacking other terminals and data points. This can get repetitive quickly, as players will often have to backtrack to find hashes if they use them to unlock unnecessary data or hack other things, like enemy robots.
The facility is pretty expansive and is full of large, detailed areas that bring the evil Vestige corporation to life, which is aesthetically pleasing and fun to explore, but it’s also extremely easy to get lost and run around in circles here, as the mission objectives are pretty vague and the map system is useless, showing the player’s position as a star in a small featureless map that can’t even be zoomed into. You’re better off learning the layout of the stage rather than relying on the map, and expect to run around a bit as you figure out exactly what you have to do.
While the game can be entertaining at times, Divide is ultimately not as fun as it should be. The setting is fun and the visuals look great, but the gameplay itself suffers from terrible combat, repetitive mechanics, vague objectives and an unhelpful map. Some player might dig the experience, but it’s unfortunately a flawed sci-fi adventure that had the potential to be better.