by Chris Priestman
reviewed on PC
A Cult Game Rises
There is something about being a cybernetic psychic monk assassin that is inherently exciting. In the world of E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy, you play as just that. The game itself is heavily inspired by Deus Ex with its main focus being to allow players a choice as to how they approach each mission. E.Y.E. is also set within a dark cyberpunk world and plays like an FPS/RPG hybrid. The game is fairly deep and gets the blood flowing into those old hardcore gaming veins that were starting to run dry. The game makes a strong impression from the offset but, unfortunately, its premise proves to be just a little too ambitious for the ten young developers at Streum On Studio. What they have managed to achieve is certainly commendable though, and will no doubt be a popular cult game for years to come.
How Deep Does The Rabbit Hole Go?
A common question that is asked within cyberpunk culture is how deep does the rabbit hole go? Well, E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy expects its players to be prepared to descend very deep. The universe is well fleshed out with a detailed history consisting of warring political factions, mutants, interplanetary battles and cybernetic experiments. The story takes place in the 24th century and the player enters as part of an armed force known as E.Y.E. who operate under the Secreta Secretorum, a rebel organisation struggling to overthrow the all-powerful Federation. The human race is also engaging in an unending war with the Metastreumonic Force, which consists of various mutants and aliens of an unknown origin. On top of this, E.Y.E. is going through an internal struggle after the separatist Commander Rimanah created his own faction and split the force in two. At first it is all very overwhelming and proves to be a chore to explain, even at the most basic level, and unfortunately, the gameís French developers happened across a few translation errors in the process. The gameís dialogue is also shaky as it switches between lofty philosophical statements from the likes of Churchill and Confucious, and then in the same breath will quote Schwarzenegger from Predator. Itís a rather odd mix that lacks consistency but has a humorous appeal to it that will undoubtedly attract some fans. For those that really want to sink into the universe though, there are plenty of new words to learn and a whole archive section to read through within the game. Understanding it all does require patience and a lot of determination though.
As can be gathered from its elaborate backdrop, E.Y.E. is incredibly complex and its quests require the player to make the choice of what side they want to work with. One downside is that the karma system that defines your character is barely noticeable and is easily overlooked. Your karma doesnít actually seem to affect anything, but luckily, when you choose what side to follow, you will be given different story threads and missions. Consequently, the choices the player makes will probably be determined by which character they prefer rather than tapping into the level of critical and political thought that the game tries to encourage. This is not helped by the confusing and badly told story. Most players will be happy with simply ignoring the content of the dialogue boxes and simply trying to work out what to do on their own. This will often be the case anyway as the game does not make objectives all too clear at times. This is only exacerbated by the huge yet empty levels that could be easily navigated with a basic minimap, which is not provided in any form.
Human Cyborg Relations
Being built on the Source engine, it is fair to say that E.Y.E. does look a little dated in the graphics department. More than making up for this is the gameís neo-noir cyberpunk style. Also thrown in are some ancient Japanese structures and character designs. The game contains a variety of different areas to explore, each with their own feel. An Alien inspired corridor-based level and a shanghai temple are both highlights, as well as the Bladerunner-esque neon city, New Eden. Unfortunately, due to the vast spacious areas, some detail is lacking and the player is left with plenty of empty rooms to explore, or the old-school fog hinders any sense of draw distance. The unique architecture really is a delight to witness and nowhere is this more true than in the huge E.Y.E. Temple headquarters. This HQ basically acts as a hub for the player to make essential purchases, embark on side missions and talk to other characters to advance the story. Like many elements across the game, the effort put into the level design from the developers is initially impressive and refreshing, but this soon gives way due to a lack of accessibility. Many players will appreciate this barrier and they will indeed form what will inevitably be a cult following of the game. Most will find the game is not user friendly however. Amongst the worst is the inventory system, which allows freedom of choice, but requires constant dragging and dropping of ammo, and the Temple HQ is impressive to look at, but is too huge and its functions too far apart to label as functional. To make matters worse, the game offers a decent number of tutorial videos which only point out the obvious and barely touch the intricacies of the game. Due to this, moments like the first time the player loses their mental stability will leave them confused and wondering how to regain their state of mind.
One area that the game does seem to get right is the stat-based character building. For those looking for a deep RPG experience, E.Y.E. delivers on this front. The game starts off by having the player choose a gene set that will favour their preferred playstyle. Going up a level by killing enemies and completing objectives will gift the player with three more stat points to spend. The game goes further than this basic stat system and will require players to really enhance their character by spending the in-game currency known as Brouzoufs. This currency can be spent in the Temple HQ on a range of items from the basic medkit and extra weapons, to advanced P.S.I powers and cybernetic implants. The P.S.I powers are basically a form of spiritual magic that is actually rather cool, for lack of a better word. Transforming ammo into health, disintegrating enemies and teleportation are some of the highlights. Cyber implants are used to upgrade the frail human parts of the playerís character. Pretty much every bone and organ can be transformed to be stronger or more efficient in combat. The P.S.I powers and cyber implants can also be helpful in conversations, with certain jedi-like mind tricks being used to convince people to reveal important information.
Refreshingly deep and hardcore RPG experience, stunning visual design, tons of replayability, fantastic co-op experience
Some playstyles are too underdeveloped, some bugs, not incredibly user-friendly