Review: Divergent Shift (DSiWare)

Deterrent or gift?

We've already seen Chronos Twins present the dual-screen platforming experience on DSiWare, but Intrinsic Games now looks to put a slightly different spin on the idea. While their title's mechanics are similar in some ways, Divergent Shift tends to put a bit more emphasis on the actual platforming aspects of the game and less on puzzle solving.

As with most platformers, your goal is to safely guide your character to the end of each level. Your female protagonist can run, leap, wall jump, and even slide through the various obstacles that stand in her way. The catch is that you're going to have to control her reflection and shadow as well, which tends to make things a bit more tricky.

In Reflection Mode, you'll see an exact replica of your character on the bottom screen. Both are synchronised to each other so that when one moves, the other moves as well. The challenge comes in the way the levels themselves differ a bit on each screen. One might have a platform to jump on, whereas the other might not. You'll have to make use of both screens in order to navigate through the various challenges. If you find yourself stuck on the top, you can always peruse the bottom to see if the reflected level might contain a way through.

Shadow Mode changes things up a bit. Instead of both characters synching to each other, they can move independently of one another, and thus you'll have to constantly keep an eye on both to manoeuvre your way through the challenges that lay before you. This brings more puzzle solving elements to the table and can become quite tricky in later levels. While Reflection Mode tends to emphasise the two characters working together, Shadow Mode forces you to learn to use both separately to make it through the levels.

Divergent Shift does a nice job of offering up a smooth and fairly responsive set of controls. There are times when the wall jump isn't as tightly executed as you might like, but it doesn't detract much and generally becomes more intuitive and accurate as you put in more playing time. The main story mode offers some challenging levels to tackle, not to mention a host of journal entries to collect. You'll even be able to go back and play levels you've unlocked in a time trial mode, which adds a nice layer of replay value to the package.

If there's one glaring flaw of Divergent Shift that stands out, it's the game's lack of visual detail. Not only are the backdrops completely devoid of any type of real flash, but the foregrounds themselves aren't much better. The game looks like something that you might have played back during the early personal computer era of the 80's rather than a DSiWare release. It's a shame to see such a unique gaming experience degraded by this lacklustre visual presentation.

Musically, there are some impressive tunes found throughout the game. While they tend to blend into the background a bit, they're all quite reflective of the action taking place onscreen and do a nice job of carrying the overall mood. You'll be treated to a few sound effect variances from time to time, but much like the visuals, they tend to be fairly average and sometimes forgettable.

Conclusion

Divergent Shift might have been a more refreshing experience had it been released before Chronos Twins hit the service, but as it is, the game ends up feeling like nothing more than a more expensive and slightly less fulfilling clone. There's still plenty of fun to be had, but the somewhat short experience and rather bland visuals keep the game from ever reaching its full potential.

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