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Disconnected for good reason

  • NTC3
  • 03/19/2017 12:30 PM
  • 164 views
Disconnected is a VX Ace top-down shooter that allows you to shoot 360 degrees thanks to utilising the mouse, and has a cool-looking boss battle gif – the thing that drew me in. Unfortunately, it’s barely representative of the overall game, which instead seems intent to replicate the worst excesses of the early 2000’s 3D shooters.

Aesthetics (art, design and sound)



The game has a few resource/freeware tracks and sound effects, which are mostly decent, though the repetitive zombie groaning gets really annoying, really fast. Visually, it uses a range of sci-fi resource packs for its environments, which is not a problem, in and of itself. Celianna’s tiles in particular had created some pretty awesome-looking areas in Incitement and a few other games where they were employed. Here, however, it’s mainly the other sci-fi pack, which is used to either create rooms packed to the brim with the same 2-3 crate models, or narrow walkways suspended over a ton of green/purple coloured acid. It all looks utterly generic and unconvincing, and there’s basically no way to tell one room apart from another, unless it had a puzzle in it. The only things you are really allowed to interact with often already have “Press E” hovering over them and is invariably either puzzle switches or medkit/energy chests. (Yes, you get 100 Energy from chests that get opened once you are done with them, somehow.) Thus, while there are a ton of various consoles scattered about, they are all useless and unreadable, when writing on them might’ve had redeemed the generic mapping somewhat (the way Iron Gaia overcame the same problem). However, the environmental writing is notable by its absence, like most other writing in the game.

Storyline



Now, the gamepage did promise to have “B-movie storytelling”, but that’s usually interpreted to mean a story that’s entertaining in a cheesy, lame way, and is certainly present, rather than next to no storytelling, like here. You get the premise, which you can see above in its entirety, you get quick and insubstantial dialogue between the squad, which consists of your protagonist, Hanna, a guy named Ryan who is also controllable during one “episode” of the game where he helps out, and two other women who basically disappear from the narrative entirely after the opening. After that, there’s no real writing worth noting, and the overall plot is basically Dead Space at its most generic and with no subplots like Elle or Unitology that added so much texture to the game. Still, it’s not that important in a gameplay-driven, action-packed title, right?

Gameplay

Well, the problem is that it’s not actually that action-packed, especially at the start. You go through quite a lot of (large, generic and empty) rooms before the hostile drones start appearing, and are easily dispatched one by one. The gameplay there is just really slow and leisurely and boring. Then, however, you go into the dark area where you can only see in a small area around you, and which is swarming with zombies that suddenly take 11 shots to die (vs. 3 for ranged robots and 5-6 for melee ones.) The shift is so drastic relative to the previous area, which almost encouraged you to waste shots due to its lack of challenge, that I actually ran out of Energy (equivalent to MP on your stats, and used as your laser gun’s ammo) halfway through it, and had to reload at the start of said area. Moreover, when the spitter zombies appear, they get a considerable advantage over you, since they are not hampered by the darkness (unlike you) and so can get a ton of cheap shots at you, often from outside the screen.

After you get through that area, you get back to the light to fight more robots, which are both more numerous, and now get a better-armoured melee variety, and a tougher ranged one that can fire off paralyzing shots. It should’ve made the game more interesting, but overwhelmingly the right way to play that section it is to advance slowly and pick off each drone one by one from afar before they notice you, since otherwise you’ll soon get paralysed and swarmed. That isn’t really fun, and I would say that the lack of options you have (besides just firing a gun) is likely to blame. VX Ace can support a lot more options than this: just check out the frankly insane system of Goatchild: Nightmare for comparison. I know that this is the developer’s first game so I don’t expect them to go that far (although Goatchild actually was the first game its developer uploaded on here, at least) Instead, just giving a couple more distinct weapons earlier on and increasing the enemies’ mobility but reducing their rate of fire/range to make getting up close more viable would’ve likely been a much easier solution.



Instead, though, Disconnected chooses to add in Ryan, the aforementioned 2nd character who is identical gameplay-wise to Hanna (well, he does get a slightly different gun upgrade, but that’s about it) and only exists to enable the character-switching for the boulder/button puzzles. Yes, that questionable JRPG puzzle classic is present in here as well. One iteration of it is kinda clever, requiring you to manage 3 buttons and 2 balls, and appearing impossible until you figure out you need to reset the 2nd ball. However, it’s more then offset by all the other puzzles like this, which have to be solved while under fire from the constantly respawning drones, A brilliant innovation this isn’t, to say the least. Same goes for the enemy respawn in general, which isn’t particularly fun with the robots (even during the boss fight, or when there are no puzzles involved), but gets truly obnoxious in the fourth, and last, level, when you must wade past a ton of constantly respawning zombies again, while also being regularly shot at by spitters from the dark.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever wanted to push boulders towards buttons while under fire, look no further. Otherwise, I struggle to think for reasons to check out Disconnected. I never thought I would say this, but somehow, even the painfully generic One Fate demo felt like a better experience then this game.

Posts

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First of all, thanks for putting in the time and effort into writing this review.
You raise some valid points of critique and I will certainly keep them in mind if I ever find the time to release another project.

This game was mostly published to have something published at all and not get stranded ditching project after project. This kinda made me rush stuff to not lose interest it turned out in the end. In hindsight this is pretty visible with the different "episodes" which end up being more of a string of things I had fun building at the time than a coherent game.

Also it seems my ingenious plan of covering up my complete lack of storywriting skills as B-movie writing failed ;)

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