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Disjunction

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action
Publisher: Sold Out Sales & Marketing Limited
Developer: Ape Tribe Games
Release Date: Jan. 28, 2021

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PS4/XSX/XOne/Switch/PC Preview - 'Disjunction'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Jan. 11, 2021 @ 7:00 a.m. PST

Disjunction is an single-player, cyberpunk, stealth-action RPG set in the dystopian underworld of New York in the year 2048.

Disjunction is set in the not-so-distant future, where the world has become a traditional cyberpunk dystopia. Players take the role of a group of characters who are suddenly thrust into a complex conspiracy. Frank, a private eye, is tasked with investigating the case of a famous civil rights leader who was accused of murdering a police office. Joe, a criminal with a dirty past, is trying to find out who killed his daughter. Spider, an elite hacker, is caught up in Joe's quest and finds herself discovering her own family member's murder may also be involved. Together, the three must do what all cyberpunk protagonists do best: Beat up thugs until they find the true evil behind the city's corruption.

On the surface, Disjunction looks like Hotline Miami or other similar shooters, and there are some parallels. You go through a stage filled with lethal enemies and must figure out the pattern to defeat them without dying. Disjunction is far more stealth-based than those games. You character can go into a sneaking mode, where they can use enemy cones of vision to their advantage to knock out enemies from behind. They can also slip into shadows, which limit enemy cones of vision and allow them to sneak past. Each character also has a set of skills that use an energy meter. Since energy doesn't replenish naturally, you need to be careful about which skills you use, or you'll run dry when you need it the most.


The first playable character is the private eye Frank, an all-around character. He has access to a long-range stun move, a health kit, and a smoke grenade. His special passive ability, Deadeye, increases the damage of his next attack after a certain period of time. Like all characters, he specializes in stealth, but he cango into open combat and survive because of his med kit and powerful abilities.

The second, Joe, is a cybernetically enhanced boxer who favors brute force over stealth. He can't go in guns blazing, but his passive ability lets him take a certain amount of damage that regenerates over time. His skills include a brutal charge attack that stuns enemies, a pulse grenade that does an absurd amount of damage, and the ability to buff himself temporarily to increase his damage. He still needs to sneak around, but his skills reward going all-in and smashing faces as much as they do stealth.

The last of the playable characters, Spider, is a hacker and the opposite of Joe. She naturally regenerates one pip of energy over a few seconds and favors sneaking and skill usage over brute force. She can create holograms, become invisible, or stun enemies with a powerful grenade. However, she can't self-heal, so any combat is a lot worse for her than it is for the other two characters. This encourages you to use her holograms to distract enemies long enough to sneak by.

All three characters also have a ranged lethal weapon. Frank has a revolver, Joe has a shotgun, and Spider has an Uzi. These weapons are extremely powerful but also kill the person they are used on. The story emphasizes trying to avoid killing, so presumably this will have consequences down the line, so these weapons are a last resort against living enemies. Robotic foes are ripe for a face full of buckshot, so it's important to learn when to shoot to make it through the stages.


The bulk of gameplay involves trying to find the sneakiest way to eliminate as many enemies in a room as possible, with increasing challenges as the game goes on. Regular guys are easy to take down, but heavily armored soldiers can kill you in a heartbeat if they catch you. The aforementioned robotic enemies are usually armed to the teeth and have cones of vision impossible for a human, making them far more important to take out. You don't have to kill enemies, and you can get through most rooms without being spotted, but it's easier to progress if you eliminate foes.

Each stage involves going from the start to the finish. The stages are relatively brief, and if you play through without being stopped, it'll probably only take a couple of minutes to reach the end of the stage. That requires being well aware of the enemy movement patterns, and practice will make perfect. Each stage also has optional objectives that involve finding a hidden upgrade canister, so your character can boost a skill after a stage.

One neat thing about upgrades are that they are not permanent. Each character gains XP (for completing objectives) and UP (for upgrading skills) and can reassign them however they like at the start of any stage. You can boost a character's sneaking skills for one stage and their combat skills for another, or upgrade Joe's combat stim for a stage with lots of melee fighting and then swap to an upgraded charge for a stage with a lot of distances to cover. You'll probably end up favoring one play style, but what we've seen so far looks nicely customizable.

Disjunction has all the makings of one of those addictive "practice makes perfect" games. The pace is lightning quick, and death means trying again from a checkpoint with only a moment's pause. The cyberpunk-influenced story also holds a lot of potential, especially if your choices change things as much as the game suggests. We'll have to see when Disjunction hits Steam on Jan. 28, 2021.



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