A random fact about me: sometimes I dabble in cooking. It is an exquisite art of combining two or more ingredients into something new and as a reward – you get to eat it later! And you can’t eat video games (although I imagine some definitely tried out of losing rage). Video games are also trickier cause when you mix two or more ingredients into something new, there is a good chance it might turn into something bad. What I have now in front of me is a game that tries to mix shooting with some real-time strategy, so let’s see how well that goes.
Set in the near future on Earth, the only hope for human survival is through Integration, a process developed to preserve human brains in robotic armatures. You play as Romer Shoal, a former Gravcycle pilot in command of a small resistance force still grasping onto the fading memories of their human selves. With the domineering Rayonne forces set on eliminating the final remnants of human society, it’s up to Romer and his crew of Outlaws to fight back and reboot humanity. The good old question of how much of ourselves define us. Is a mind alone what makes a human and does our shell matter as well? I suppose it does since Romer wasn’t too keen on letting all of it go.
Now we get to the interesting part(s). There is a short tutorial teaching you the basics of the game that you definitely do not want to skip. The hallmark of the game, Gravcycle, is a weaponized hoverbike that you can upgrade later on. You’re also not alone on your path to violently disassemble robots. On most of the missions, you’ll be accompanied by a couple of friendly ground units that you can give commands to. These range from attacking specific clusters of enemies, liberating prisoners, or activating health pods for your Gravcycle (or health packs, pretty much). What’s good about your AI units is that they’re not only there as a distraction for enemies and to draw enemy fire away from you. They do some considerable damage and careful planning and issuing of commands will sometimes be a defining factor in completing a level or not. What’s not good about them is that there isn’t much I in AI. I would often find them not running away from enemy grenades and focusing on enemies further away while another one is shooting a meter away from them. While it feels incredibly fun organizing stakeouts and ambushes against enemy troops, wining is anything but exciting. Enemy units will often run for cover through an open area and be absolutely demolished by my soldiers. Throwing a grenade at them is a sure hit since they’re too slow or perhaps just lazy to hide.
Although there is a variety in different areas as you progress through the game, I couldn’t help to think that something was missing. Pretty soon I realized that something was pretty much everything. While the levels are huge and offer enough space for planning the attacks, the whole area, no matter where you are, feels incredibly empty. There’s you, your units, enemies that are hidden somewhere, a deserted building here or there ad that’s about it. Rinse and repeat that design for the next dozen of levels, if not more. While the visuals occasionally shine, they’re marred by the uninspiring design behind it.
Unfortunately, the same translates to audio. Aside from cutscenes and main menu, there is little to no gameplay music Eventually, I gave up waiting for something to happen so I fired up a random Spotify playlist to keep me company while I blast away through enemy troops. The occasional emptiness in the game world can be a good thing if executed correctly, but it has no place in an action-oriented game where you spend most of the gameplay on shooting.
What I’m going to give Disintegration will be some good points for trying. And not much for anything else. It is an admirable mix that works in theory but falls flat due to a lack of content. I expected more when it came to my customization of Gravcycle, more options when commandeering my units, and definitely more variety in enemy and level design. If there is one thing Disintegration does well, it’s that it is a perfect game for the “wait for a sale” tag. With a hefty price, lack of polish and occasional bugs it feels like you’re playing a beta that’s very near to be released out of Early Access. Disintegration is a story of what could have been and a harsh lesson of what it shouldn’t be.
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