E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy – A rough experience

Today we’re reviewing EYE: Divine Cybermancy, by Streum On Studios. It is an ambitious little game that is hamstrung by the limitations of the developers, but still delivers an interesting experience. Unfortunately, it’s a title where you need to sift through a load of bullshit to reach the interesting material. I know that will put many players off, but I still feel the need to cover this odd game.

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At its core, EYE is an action RPG along the lines of Deus Ex. Large open stages with objectives that can be accomplished in more than one way, set in a cyberpunk universe, starring an augmented human being who can increase their stats by upgrading their implants.

Combined with the usual melee/guns combat, there is a hacking mechanic. This has the advantage of being able to work on any person, vehicle, or system within range. You can go as far as possessing enemies and using them to attack their comrades, or scout the area before you attack. There are also some psionic abilities available too, with my personal favorite giving you the ability to teleport into an enemy for a combination of fast-movement and one-hit-kills. It could stand to be expanded on, as there are not many abilities or hacking options available, and some of those that are have minimal utility.

The missions have you working for the titular organization, an elite military force that has broken off from the Federation to seek power for their own ends. You awaken in a cave after a botched assault as the only survivor, your memory wiped in the process. From here, you are tasked with numerous missions, a rivalry between factions in your organization sitting in the background.

The plot is a mixed bag, much like the rest of the game. There are hints that things aren’t as they seem, but there’s rarely any clarification, leaving much open to interpretation. And the ending… well. I won’t spoil what happens, but all the possible endings left me scratching my head, wondering what, if anything, I ultimately accomplished.

While the mission hub is far too large, it has its uses. There are a number of NPCs there to speak with between missions, and their stories help flesh out the world the game takes place in while still leaving some mysteries. It also grants access to areas already visited, where players can complete random objectives for additional money and experience. This goes well with the research system, as topics can be researched while the player is off attending to other matters. Said topics can lead to minor stat increases or new equipment.

That’s a general complaint of the maps, the size. They consist of a few enormous areas with a couple narrow connecting tunnels and bridges. Also, for a game where you can jump three stories in the air, there’s a notable lack of vertical complexity. Very rarely will going above or below the main level grant any sort of an advantage. Basically, they don’t use the space very well. And that is a shame because there are some interesting environments featured in EYE. Rotted out cities, underground tunnel systems, and a planet that pays homage to the Alien franchise are all on display. The graphics look dated by today’s standards, to be sure, but the effort inputted is apparent.

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The AI has been lauded in other reviews, but I don’t see it. Enemies will mob you, and throw the occasional grenade. Because of this the available playstyles aren’t very well balanced, either. Enemies will home in on you the second you score a kill, forcing fragile players to constantly relocate, ven if it’s from an elevated catwalk across the map with a silenced rifle. Hacking takes too long and has too short a range to give an edge in immediate combat, even with high stats. The best you can do is reprogram turrets ahead of time, hack from some crawlspace the AI can’t reach, or hope an Interceptor gunship will stay in range long enough to take control of that. Psionics are a bit more user-friendly, but often hit you with “lethal wounds” which deliver accumulating losses to important stats and cannot be healed for most of the game. Thus you’re better off grabbing the gun and sword of your choice and going to town with them.

If this wasn’t enough, the default spawn rates mean players will constantly be flanked as they try and push for whatever objective they have. Often from just around the corner. This is especially grating when fighting rocket soldiers and Deus Ex-es, who can respawn the moment you look away from their spawn point. The spawn rates and enemy detection ranges can be modified in the options, but it feels like a band-aid trying to fix a broken arm.

Seriously. Screw these guys.

Seriously. Screw these guys.

The game needs cleaning up, clarifying of concepts. A number of dialogue sections are poorly worded, and there’s no visible research tree, so you don’t know what will lead to new technology. The user interface is poorly suited for the vast number of available psionic abilities and implants, and the weight and inventory systems are obnoxious additions to an already staggering number of concepts the player must work with before they can make the most of this game. The storyline could use some work as well, as I wasn’t even sure what I was fighting over for most of the game.

In the end, I hesitantly recommend this game, but considering they’re asking $10 for it on Steam I would wait for a sale. It has some strong points, but it could have had so much more, which saddens me.

 

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