The fiscal realities of developing video games means that nobody stays on PC for long, and that’s led to us seeing just what quite a few developers are made of. Divide is an interesting mix of twin-stick shooter and point-and-click adventure game, but it’s the translation from PC to consoles that trips it up.
Divide honestly isn’t terribly interesting, at least at first, looking like a fairly standard futuristic twin-stick shooter. The compelling part comes in when you get to the game’s main conceit, with a bright, shiny, hidden world of data lying on top of the dull metal real world; as you engage the right stick, the environments come to life. That said, the sometimes stiff voice acting and fairly conventional story could do more to carry the proceedings.
While the individual parts aren’t out-of-nowhere original, the game’s mix of twin-stick shooting, isometric stealth and sneaking, and point-and-click clue hunting make for an interesting, engaging idea. Where it tends to stumble slightly is pulling it off.
Divide really has two problems: It doesn’t explain what to do well, and it doesn’t let you do it in a way that makes sense. To start, everything in the menus is done with the R2 trigger and the left stick, an unusual and awkward choice. After a deliberately confusing introduction that flashes forward and back, you’re stranded in a industrial basement with no map. If you have to shoot your way out of a situation, which is a last resort, you aim with the right stick, hold L2 to arm your gun, and R2 to fire. If you want to temporarily shut down a robot, you have to get close enough, in line of sight, with the right stick and open a menu to turn it off, a bit confusing when you’re being shot at by that same robot. It’s an oddly convoluted control system that really can only be chalked up to a poorly translated scheme from PC to console.
Hacking? Security clearances? All this vital stuff in the game is more or less completely left unexplained, unless you either dig or fiddle with the game to make it work. And that’s something of a shame, because when the game clicks, it works quite well. Shooting your way out is rarely ideal; your gun needs to recharge and you only have a limited number of capacitors. Plus, you lose all your capacitors when you die, so often instead you’ll dodge through the map, sprinting through a door just in time or waiting for just the right moment to shut down a robot with a well-timed hack. At its best, it’s a brilliantly intense game.
If you stick with it, there’s about six hours worth of fun here, especially if you go digging for every last node and bit of trivia. That’s worth doing; there are some amusing bits and pieces hidden in all the emails and seemingly bland corporate announcements.
Just how much fun you’ll get out of Divide will depend on how patient you are with the controls and its struggles to explain itself. Still, if you can stick with it, there’s plenty of fun to be had.