Disjunction is a stealth-action RPG developed by Ape Tribe Games and published by Sold Out. The game is set in a dystopian future New York where corruption and instability are the norm, and a drug called Shard has begun to spread throughout the underground. You play as three citizens whose paths are interconnected, and how you choose to play each of these characters will impact how the narrative plays out. Disjunction draws heavy inspiration from the tech noir genre, but does it deliver in terms of gameplay? We share our thoughts below.
It Takes Three
In Disjunction, you play as not one, but three different characters throughout the game. Each character has their own set of lethal and non-lethal weapons, as well as cybernetic abilities and skills that set them apart from one another.
The first character, Frank Monroe, is a private investigator and former cop who wields a baton and revolver. His Shock Bolter and Smoke Grenade abilities are great for stunning and blinding enemies, respectively. Next up is Joe Murphy, a cybernetically enhanced boxer and vengeful father seeking answers. Joe wields a shotgun and a powerful cybernetic arm that packs a punch. Given this, most of his abilities are geared toward melee combat, such as his Combat Stim and Charge abilities. The third playable character is Spider, a savvy hacker whose abilities are all about diversion and illusion. Her Cloaking Field renders her invisible for a few seconds, while her Holoprojector offers a distracting hologram that buys you enough time to get the jump on enemies. Frank and Spider’s abilities are more conducive to distracting enemies and sneaking by unnoticed. Meanwhile, Joe is built for more aggressive play and close-quarters combat.
Whether you prefer to sneak past enemies or want to start a gunfight, the game gives you room to tackle each situation in different ways. This is further supplemented by the dynamic upgrade and talent trees available. The upgrades you choose can be changed at the beginning of each level, giving you some wiggle room to experiment with different setups.
Despite this, I often found myself leaning toward a stealthier approach, and I usually played the same way with all three characters. Opening fire in a room with multiple enemies usually spells certain death in Disjunction. Enemies are very quick to react and can kill you almost instantly. On top of that, alerting one enemy usually means the entire room of enemies will collapse onto your position, and it is very hard to defend yourself when that happens. Stealth play is practically required, which directly contrasts with the concept of playing the game how you want. This was particularly the case with Joe. Although he’s geared to be more in-your-face, he didn’t seem to fare any better than the other two during combat.
Most of the gameplay in Disjunction consists of sneaking through levels and taking down enemies to reach certain objectives. Sneaking will reveal enemy vision cones, and the range of these cones can be reduced by sticking to the shadows. The enemies aren’t all that different from level to level. Enemies typically consist of armed guards and robots, with little variation between those types.
Power to the Player
During conversations, the game will highlight the text of important people and locations. Hovering over these highlighted terms brings up a snippet of details. This is an elegant way to learn more about the world without going overboard with explanation. There are some magazine clippings and documents to find in each level that offer other world-building details as well. However, there doesn’t seem to be a way to look back through the documents you’ve collected. It would have been nice to have a means of reviewing some of the information gathered, if only for the sake of digging deeper into the story and lore.
Disjunction features a reactive story that changes based on player choice. Choosing to kill enemies during missions will lead to different reactions from NPCs and will eventually lead to different story outcomes. I found the story intriguing and enjoyed how each of the three characters’ paths intertwined with one another. However, the game felt exceedingly slow-paced overall and I doubt I’d have the patience to replay the game a second time to pursue alternate endings.
A Decent Homage
Disjunction is an homage to tech noir games, one that strives to live up to the likes of Deus Ex. Although the game fell short in terms of combat, Disjunction’s dynamic narrative and gritty atmosphere fit well within the genre. The soundtrack is excellent as well and really helped drive home the game’s cyberpunk feel. If stealth games are your jam, or if you just want to immerse yourself in an engaging cyberpunk story about corporate corruption and societal collapse, Disjunction should be next on your play list.