EYE: Divine Cybermancy ReviewPublisher: Streum On Studio
Platform: PC Exclusive
UK Price (as reviewed): £14.99 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $19.99 (ex tax)
Some people are going to tell you that Divine Cybermancy is absolutely rubbish - they'll say it's full of confused nonsense and techno-jabber, and that the gameplay is as uniquely schizophrenic as the level design. At the same time as you're listening to all that guff, though, there will be other parties similarly clamouring for a chance to yell at your earballs.
The second party will stalwartly defy apparent sense and declare that Divine Cybermancy is a masterpiece. Influences range from Deus Ex through to Frank Herbert's Dune, and these have been pulled together by an unrivalled intellect into a stubbornly compact work of religious cyberpunk art. Or, so they'll say.
The problem is, however, that both parties have a point. Divine Cybermancy is
beautiful and brilliant, but it's also
broken and bewildering - with more than a note of French surrealism running through it to boot. You can't approach it lightly, but at the same time taking it seriously is a fast-track to frustration.
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Merely puzzling out what's going on in the opening moments of the game would be enough to send most people loopy, in fact. After asking you to create a character by choosing several badly-described genes, EYE tasks you with evading Federation forces and the Jian faction by fighting your way back to Temple HQ to rejoin your Secreta Secretorum Culter faction allies. You'd better be quick about it too, because the metastreumonic force is strong and is manifesting various creatures.
The game doesn't get any simpler the further you delve - you're merely shoved more and more urgently into a web of wordy, alien names and indistinguishable splinter factions. This is all without getting on to the topic of the game itself too. Oh, good lord; the game
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Conceptually, it's amazing. Most of the game is spent running missions against the Federation - basically an evil galactic government - in impressively large levels that allow a huge number of approaches. Upgradable cybernetic implants elevate you above most enemies, and you're tactically freed to pursue your goals however you wish. You can sneak and snipe, run and gun or persuade NPCs and enemy systems to bend to your will - Deus Ex is an obvious influence.
Practically, however, EYE is quickly thwarted by its attempted scope - the sheer number of skills is instantly overwhelming, and it doesn't help that the underlying systems are never explained either. What is Brouzf and how do you use it? What benefit will I get for researching Cormack's Algorithm with a staff of 50 scientists? Why can I hack myself? Why have I possessed a door?