Degrees Of Separation is the latest release from respected indie publisher Modus Games. It arrived on all platforms on Valentine’s Day and as you might expect from that, centres around love.
Degrees Of Separation tells the story of Ember and Rime whose worlds are bound to harsh environments. Ember exists in an eternally sunny world whilst Rime occupies the icy opposite.
The star-crossed lovers can interact with each other at the precipice of their respective worlds but never cross into the other. The two seek to overcome the physical boundary allowing them to co-exist in one idealistic world.
The story is a little too hamfisted to be as heartwarming as it’s trying to be. It’s not in the narrative where Degrees Of Separation excels but in some novel puzzle mechanics that make up gameplay.
Two Is The Loneliest Number
Degrees Of Separation is a puzzle platformer in a similar vein to games like Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons and Unravel Two. Taking control of two characters the player must solve a series of intricate tandem puzzles.
Like Unravel Two, the game is best enjoyed in local co-op, particularly with a significant other. Degrees Of Separation does allow the player to fly solo though by switching between the two characters.
The game utilises a lot of environmental mechanics that are tied to the individual characters. Certain areas are only accessible by Ember and vice-versa but most sections will require both characters abilities to advance.
The Degrees Of Separation In The Environment
More than a clever play of words the literal degrees of separation between the two environments provides the basis for most of the puzzle solving. Both characters occupy the same landscape at the same time but see it from their worlds unique perspective.
The barrier of the two worlds has a complete 360 perspective around the individual characters. Meaning players have to balance the positioning of each character to get the exact right divide.
The worlds can be split left and right, up and down or any combination diagonally between. The environments constantly need to be balanced to create the desired effects for puzzle solving.
The simplest example of the difference in environment is when the player is confronted with bodies of water. Rime’s icy world means any water is instantly frozen allowing him to walk over it. Ember meanwhile will sink into the warm water creating an additional layer of traversal.
Puzzles might require Rime to create an icy bridge for the duo to pass but if Ember connects with the surface it will melt. It’s a novel twist on the puzzle platforming genre with the balance of weathers becoming the driving point behind all solutions.
Each world is lovingly crafted and the unique visuals to each create a beautiful backdrop to the game. The controls can be a little clunky but the core mechanic is executed to precision. The transition between environments is seamless and instantaneous.
It creates a wonderful free flow to gameplay that’s satisfying in a way unique to Degrees Of Separation. The puzzles are challenging and the non-linear structure means the world can be explored at will.
The puzzles often demand a pinpoint precision from the player so it’s often a case of trial and error. There’s very little handholding from the game so the player will be left study the environment in their own time to create the ideal balance.
All-in-all it’s a uniquely charming and very satisfying gameplay experience, particularly in couch co-op.