Game Title: Degrees of Separation
Company: Modus Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 2 – 3 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 769 MB

Platformer games aren’t what I would always consider to be heavy on co-op experiences, outside of a few select titles. Kirby’s tried this a couple times, as have a few other franchises. Games built around co-op are often always heavily thrown towards the local side as well, not the online side.

But that’s not stopping Modus Games and the game we’re going to be talking about today. A tale of love that reeled me in from the get-go, this is a co-op centered Metroidvania title. So, here is my review for Degrees of Separation for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

degrees 2 - story

This story centers around two young people from two kingdoms. Ember from a kingdom filled with warmth and fire and Rime from a kingdom of cold and ice. The two of them awaken and meet each other, traveling the same path but separated by a magical barrier that keeps their own side of the world their own.

Together, they travel towards the ruins of an old castle, hoping to find answers as they work together across the land, slowly becoming more and more fond of each others’ presence as they unweave the history of where they trek.

The plot of this game is heart-warming and straight out of a fairy tale, as is how it is told. Similar to Child of Light’s narration style, every new area Ember and Rime visit has voiced dialogue that weaves the tale of their journey and really gives the game a great sense of constant progression, unlike many other platformers that don’t give you constant dialogue and story but a reel that pushes you throughout the entire game.

Gameplay

degrees 3 - gameplay

Degrees is a co-op side-scrolling Metroidvania game. It has you controlling 2 characters as they explore a side-scrolling world, collecting items to unlock new worlds and make their way towards the game’s finale.

First of all, this is a co-op game. You have 2 playable characters and you can either control both yourself, or do Local Co-Op (or Online Co-Op, which will be added in a future update) so two players can play together. If you do Single Player, you’ll have to tap the L button to swap between the two characters when solving puzzles.

Progression in this game is simple. There are black scarves hidden throughout the game, and as you collect them, you’ll unlock doors to new “worlds”, where you can collect more to open more doors, and keep doing this until you reach the final area and see the end of the game. It’s similar to how Collectathon games worked back in the 90s and early 2000s.

degrees 6 - scarfs

You get these scarves by solving puzzles and you do that by having Ember and Rime work together. Each character’s part of the map is affected by their “world”. Water freezes for Rime to walk on, while Ember’s warmth will turn on mechanisms like lifts. Each scarf is hidden in a way that both characters’ powers must be used a certain way to grant you access to it.

This is also a bit different in each world. Some worlds have tools exclusive to that world used for its puzzles. For example, one world gives you a pair of staves that can be used to create a bridge on the border between Rime and Ember’s worlds you can walk on to access hard platforms. But they’re also world-exclusive. Once you leave the “Staff World”, you will lose the staff for the Hub and other areas.

This is unique, but also something I was a bit disappointed with. In a lot of platformer games, you really have a nice feeling of progress and enhancement when you get new tools, but for a tool to be exclusive to one area and you go back down to bare bones basic when you leave feels a bit offputting when you’re done with that area and have to go from being used to a great tool to nothing again.

degrees 4 - staff

I can’t say the game isn’t fun, though. Navigating the colorful world and doing successful puzzles with the world-manipulation is quite the treat, especially considering the majority of these puzzles require very intricate timing and thinking. Many of them had me standing and thinking for a good bit, as opposed to easier platformers where I take one look at the puzzle and immediately know the solution.

This game’s also a surprisingly-lengthy title. When I first started playing it, I expected it to only last a couple hours, 3 at the most. But by the time I unlocked the final area and saw the ending, I’d been playing for 10 hours. It really surprised me with its lengthy tale.

Controls

Controlling this game is pretty simple and also has options, as it can be controlled by normal means or by a single joy-con.

Moving around is done with the Left Analog Stick (the D-Pad isn’t used for anything). The L and R triggers are used for swapping characters and calling another character to you in Single Player Mode. Then you have the face buttons. B is used for jumping and Y for charging up the staff power.

All in all, it’s extremely simplistic and easy to do.

Presentation

degrees 5 - walking

Graphically, the game looks beautiful. Everything is very colorful and the contrast between Ember’s warm world and Rime’s chilly one just makes the game a visual spectacle. It does look blurry in handheld mode, but it environments still look quite pretty.

There’s also a fair amount of detail here in the audio. While the characters don’t have full on dialogue, per say, they do make gestures to one another when calling them and when they jump, combinging with the narrator to have a pretty sound-filled game.

Performance I have nothing bad to say about. It runs quite nicely.

Battery Life

Here’s where things might not go as you’d expect. Since this is a 2D game, I was expecting a lot of Battery Life. Here’s what we got:

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 21 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 49 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 horus, 07 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 39 minutes

Granted, this is still acceptable, but I was expecting more around the 3-5 hour range for a game like this.

In conclusion, Degrees of Separation combines a beautiful platforming world with a beautiful story filled with narration. On the downside, new tools being exclusive to certain areas hinders the feeling of progression in the game, along with the game being a good bit blurry in handheld mode to take away a bit of its beauty. Even so, this is a lengthy and heart-warming platformer worthy of your time.

Final Score: 9/10