Disjunction

Game review by
Angelica Guarino, Common Sense Media
Disjunction Game Poster Image
Difficulty spikes and repetitive play hamper cyberpunk tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

While it's based around dystopian fiction, with themes about morality and ethics, Disjunction isn't trying to teach us anything. Instead, it opts for a mystery narrative combining small pieces of information over time.

Positive Role Models

Despite variety of dialogue choices, protagonists don't portray authentic emotions. Their moral choices rarely go beyond "to kill or not to kill," which makes it feel a bit like playing with the same cardboard cutout.

Ease of Play

This game is difficult. It requires patience, time, and skill, and isn't suited for those looking for a fun, relaxing Saturday afternoon. It's better for those who may be delighted by challenges that most find frustrating.

Violence

Though players have a choice on using lethal or nonlethal methods, violence is necessary to progress through each level. Characters may favor guns, bombs, or physical beatings, leaving dead or immobilized bodies on the floor. Pools of blood under bodies indicate characters killed versus those incapacitated.

Sex
Language

Words like "f--k" and "s--t" appear in dialogue choices during nearly every character interaction, though players don't have to choose to use the options with those words.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main plotline revolves around illegal manufacture and distribution of drug called "shard." Also, Joe, one of the playable characters, appears drunk and violent at a bar during his first cutscene, leading to intervention from bartender. They discuss if there may be a healthier way for Joe to work out his anger; it's up to the player to choose Joe's response.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disjunction is a downloadable RPG (role-playing game) shooter available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac computers. In this classically inspired stealth-action game, players will take on the roles of Frank, Joe, and Spider, three inhabitants of a dystopian, near-future version of New York City. Each playable character corresponds to a unique combat style, demanding mastery of all three to progress through each sequence of levels. There's no adjustable difficulty level and there are few checkpoints, making the game appeal to players looking for a significant challenge. Violence is graphic, with pools of blood under bodies, but it doesn't look realistic as a result of the pixelated art style. Dialogue choices with strong language (such as "f--k" and "s--t") are available in nearly every character interaction. One plot point revolves around a drug called "shard," and a main character appears drunk, with dialogue choices affecting whether he'll continue to drink or will clean up his act.

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What's it about?

The story of DISJUNCTION opens with three characters chasing what are seemingly unrelated, but later revealed to be intertwined, goals. Frank, a private eye, has been hired to investigate the recent death of a popular activist leader. Joe, a furious boxer who fights with a cybernetic arm, is searching for information related to his daughter's murder, which he presumes was committed by terrorists. Spider, a hacker attempting to outrun the mistakes of her family, aims to protect herself from a vengeful gang leader who may want her dead. These three narratives play out before the backdrop of a doomsday-scenario New York City in the year 2048. Crime rates have skyrocketed due to economic collapse in the previous decade and ongoing wars. The city's government is at odds with a large group of citizens, who demand better living conditions amidst the ruin. "Law and order" prevails over all else, with the mayor of New York moving toward signing an indefinite contract with a private security company to provide the NYPD with powerful, potentially invasive security technology. Frank, Joe, and Spider have their own objectives, but with gangs and illegal drug distributors rapidly gaining power, the biggest goal is simply to survive.

Is it any good?

This role-playing game (RPG) is at once slightly repetitive and moderately stressful, which limits the appeal that it will have to many players interested in its story. Unforgiving stealth puzzles with few checkpoints in Disjunction lead to a sense of exasperation more than accomplishment once they're completed. There are two major elements that contribute to this: First, players must master three different play styles to progress past even the first few levels. That means playing with abilities and play styles they're not comfortable with, with little flexibility and no adjustable difficulty level. Because this is a stealth-based game, players may have to repeat the same set of time-consuming actions many times in order to travel from checkpoint to checkpoint, leading to the temptation to rush certain sections and fail the level yet again.

Second, while the story is remarkably detailed and the non-player character dialogue is fairly well written, it's difficult to become emotionally involved with any of the main characters. Conversations also feature rather small, difficult-to-read text, so it's easy to feel like skimming the paragraphs of dialogue instead of taking the time to soak up each word. In addition, lore is dispersed throughout high-stakes missions, and while it provides a fully formed picture of a city in peril, the pacing is greatly interrupted by these item discoveries. With all that the game leaves to be desired, it's difficult to picture what type of player this experience is for. While many difficult games earn fan favor with big payoffs waiting at the end of a set of levels, Disjunction rewards its hardworking players with only a small piece of information related to the main storyline before sending them right back into another long set of similar obstacles. As a result, many may choose to throw in the towel fairly early on, if they are not enthralled with the combat.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dystopian fiction. Because Disjunction takes place in an apocalyptic version of New York City, does that bring up any emotions that may be different than if this were a tale taking place in a fictional city?

  • Why are economic collapse, a skyrocketing crime rate, and the mass production of illegal drugs so closely linked in Disjunction? Are there ways that this could've been avoided?

Game details

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For kids who love role-playing games

Themes & Topics

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