Sunday, February 24

Review: Degrees of Separation [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The Switch has truly heralded in a return to local co-op gaming and when paired with a definite indie movement to do the same it has resulted in an eShop full of options. While there have been a variety of genres from action to shooting represented it seems the most common type has been puzzlers of some sort, which makes sense since they aren’t typically as demanding if you’re pairing with someone who may not possess a great deal of skill or experience. Degrees of Separation is one such co-op puzzler that seems to embrace that philosophy, delivering a very low-key and generally relaxing collection of environmental puzzles that you’ll use to help bring together two characters from very different worlds by utilizing their unique powers.

In the game you’ll play as Ember and Rime, young woman and man who each hail from kingdoms representing elemental extremes, ember from a world of warmth and Rime from a world of cold. Separated by a barrier, the world around them changes depending on whose side it is on. This generally defines the base nature of many of the puzzles as you’ll need to determine how to make use of these changes to make it through obstacles. Whether that’s turning water to ice to act as a platform, creating large snowballs to make use of, or causing explosions you’ll need to experiment and apply a variety of techniques to progress.

The majority of the time success comes down to carefully positioning each character and then carefully working through a sequence to solve each puzzle. This obviously works best with 2 people each controlling a character independently but for the most part playing the game solo and alternating between them is perfectly fine, just perhaps a bit slower and more cumbersome. In general the the challenge is in understanding what you need to do and not so much on precision execution, which I do appreciate since it also makes the experience more accessible than what I’ve typically played in this space, though that may also make it feel too easy for more experienced partners.

As a whole Degrees of Separation is a gorgeous game, with a smart hook, that does a great job of exploring the possibilities of its premise fully. Erring on the side of being approachable to gamers of all skill levels its puzzles are more about planning than execution, but it’s possible that could also make it feel easier than the norm depending on your tastes. Whether solo or with a friend it has some clever ideas and is a pleasant experience throughout.

Score: 7

  • Looks great
  • The focus is more on planning than execution, making it very approachable
  • Works best with a friend but playing solo also works fine

  • Depending on tastes the level of challenge may feel a bit low
  • Sometimes it’s not very clear where you’re supposed to be going