Cyberpunk games are the “in” thing right now. From the blockbuster tentpole releases like Cyberpunk 2077, or hidden gems like Cyber Shadow and Ghostrunner. There's no shortage of genre-pushing and fun cyberpunk titles at the moment or anytime soon. So when I first saw Disjunction I wasn’t expecting too much other than a stealth action title with future tech and rusty computers. Instead, to my surprise, Disjunction may be one of the best stealth action games I’ve played since Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
At first glance, Disjunction looks like any other Hotline Miami meets Metal Gear clone, and if that was your assumption, you would be correct. The stealth gameplay is on par with Kojima’s finest, and its gritty hyper-stylized world-building and presentation are up there with that of Hotline Miami. But unlike those games, Disjunction is one of the rare occurrences where it manages to stay fresh and interesting throughout its relatively difficult campaign. In the game, you will take control of 3 characters, Frank, Joe, and Spider. All 3 characters play similarly but also have their own unique abilities and play styles. Frank is a more balanced mix of stealth and lethal takedowns, Joe is the heavy-hitter with efficient kills and charge attacks, while Spider relies more on stealth and diversion to survive.
Disjunction is a difficult but fair game. Throughout its campaign, I ran into a few levels and scenarios that at first seemed almost impossible, but once I got a hang of the game's mechanics and how Disjunction allowed me the freedom to experiment, I found myself having a hard time putting it down. While I think a difficulty menu or a few more checkpoints would have been welcome, I never felt frustrated or discouraged after dying the 20th time on a level. It’s a testament to how well the levels are designed by Disjunction’s developer Ape Tribe Games.
Unlike similar titles like Hotline Miami and Ruiner, you can play any level how you want. By giving me the choice to move in quick and kill everybody before they can react, slowly take everyone down stealthily, or just simply sneak past everyone undetected. Disjunction felt more like a giant puzzle than another linear stealth action game. That's not to say the game isn’t flawed in some aspects. There were a few times that I had to restart a level from the beginning simply because I didn’t have enough energy or health at the final checkpoint. It’s frustrating having to revisit a level that took me 20 tries to finish because I got hit too many times before walking into a checkpoint or got tagged by an enemy just outside of my vision.
Disjunction features a skill tree and an optional upgrade system. The inclusion of skills and optional upgrades did add a bit more to the overall experience and let me spec out my characters slightly in favor of how I liked to play. While some of these upgrades seem pointless (speed up my attack by 0.1 seconds). I definitely felt like my characters were getting stronger as they leveled up and near the end, some situations felt a little too easy. Mostly due in part to having figured out the gameplay mechanics and a filled out skill tree (turns out 0.1 seconds is a long time after all).
Most importantly, Disjunction is a really fun game. It’s challenging but fair and never overstayed it’s welcome or got boring at any time. The level lengths are just right and everything here feels satisfying. From the quick kills and knockouts to tricking an enemy into looking the wrong way and sneaking past them. It says a lot about the game's excellent design if I can die 20 times in a row and still have fun doing it.
Style and Substance
Cyberpunk games tend to go overboard on the cyber and dystopia when it comes to their art syles. Whether it be too many VHS effects on screen, computers, and wires everywhere, or just a bit too much neon. Disjunction takes a slightly more nuanced approach to its overall cyberpunk aesthetic. While there are still hackers and metal body parts galore. I never felt like the game was trying too hard to be a gritty neo-noir throwback to the 80’s future. In fact, this may be one of the few cyberpunk games I’ve played that didn’t make me get over its aesthetic before I finished the game. The enemies felt menacing and every environment looked like it was ripped from Blade Runner without looking too “cyber”. Frank, Joe, and Spiders apartments looked lived in and their character designs, while limited due to its pixel-based art style, were overflowing with personality. It's not often a game with a pixel art style can pull the look and feel of a much bigger title like Disjunction has. The score from composer Dan Farley nails the gritty undertones of 2048 New York and helped add life into Disjunction's world without ever feeling too overbearing.
One of the biggest benefits of the cyberpunk genre is its world-building. From the smoke-filled neo-noir streets of Blade Runner to the style over substance world of Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City, the not too distant dystopian future Is the perfect setting for a dark and gritty character-driven story. Disjunction does this exceptionally well with the limited art style it has. While the story itself isn’t anything too groundbreaking, the inclusion of optional dialogue and player choice during gameplay and dialogue sections not only gives Disjunction tons of replayability, it also makes the world feel a little more alive and real. These choices can be as simple as not responding to somebody when they ask you a question, turning somebody into the police, and even how aggressive you play the game. I enjoyed this aspect of the game simply due to it feeling like Disjunction was letting me tell my own story in its world rather than me watch a carefully scripted linear game. Even if that means I'm probably the worst person in 2048 New York.
Disjunction | Final Thoughts
Disjunction is one of those rare indie titles that have more to offer than some of its AAA competition. From the game's open storytelling and player choices to its quick experimental gameplay loop that feels puzzle-like at times, and it’s stylish but not overbearing cyberpunk aesthetic. It’s slick, fun, and has a ton of replay value from its reactive story and its often sandbox feeling levels, Disjunction is the complete package. If you're a fan of stealth games, frantic action, or just want to play a cyberpunk game that won’t let you down, then Disjunction is definitely worth checking out.
TechRaptor reviewed Disjunction on Xbox Series X with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.
- Fun Open Ended Gameplay
- Unique Abilities and Intuitive Skill Tree
- Superb Art Direction and Atmosphere
- Branching Story Paths and Dialogue Options
- Difficulty Can be Overwhelming at Times
- Could Use More Save Points