Degrees of Separation Review
Release Date: February 14th, 2019
Platforms: Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
With each passing year fewer and fewer co-op games seem to be released. I may be dating myself a bit but some of my fondest memories are playing next to my brother or my best friends growing up and peaking with lan parties through high school playing Halo 2. Now that I’m grown the only option most of the time is playing competitive online shooters, that I just don’t have the time to “get good” for, with my long distance pals. I was pretty stoked when I heard that I would be reviewing a local co-op puzzle platformer as this finally gave me a way to play games with my “casual gaming” wife.
Enter Degrees of Separation a puzzle platformer that puts you in charge of Ember and Rime whom you can switch between with the press of a button or you and a co-op partner can choose the character of your liking. Choosing Ember gives you control over heat and choosing Rime gives you cold abilities. The characters powers are both passive and of their control. The heat and cold emanate from Ember and Rime creating a divide between them and changing the environment behind them.
Not only does this bring much life to the static backgrounds but also provides plenty of ways to interact with the environment. Water will freeze when Rime walks by and melt when Ember reaches the same spot, lights will go out or light up respectively, making timing crucial when learning to traverse the intricate puzzles.
The controls are simple and the player is given plenty of time to learn and then master the new concepts, perhaps even too much time. It wouldn’t be fair to say that the game moves at a snails pace, but there is no sense of urgency, luckily the whimsical narrator and enchanting music does well to set the right tone.
The story is intriguing if a little shallow. Our two protagonists are drawn together but can’t make physical contact. Their very different climates creating a barrier between them as you trade places on the screen. The journey takes them through many different environments collecting magical scarves (who doesn’t love scarves!?) to unlock doors that will bring them to a new area where, you guessed it, you collect more scarves to unlock more areas. Between areas the narrator will move the story along as if he’s reading a fairy tale out of a book. Its quite charming, actually.
In a world where games as services, rogue likes, and battle royals Degrees of Separation is a breath of fresh air that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone looking to do some relaxing platforming with a significant other or even by yourself if you’re looking for a change of pace. The art, at times, is breathtaking and the score is the unsung hero of this game.
Enchanting audio design
Clever, but not too difficult puzzles
No sense of urgency
Lack of direction
Lack of gameplay variety
Thank you to Tequila Works for providing a copy for review