E.Y.E. – Divine Cybermancy

Earlier this year, we saw Brink attempt transient single player and multiplayer attributes, with mixed reception.  It’s a lofty concept that not many companies dare to try and even fewer succeed with.  That said, it was with much surprise (and a little hesitation) that our ears perked at the idea of independent studio, Streum On Studio, making a similar attempt with E.Y.E.  For a small studio to chase such big ambitions, and knowing the stigma of “budget” priced games (E.Y.E. retails at $19.99), this seemed like it could be a course towards disaster.  But then we played the game…..

The Story

You are an undercover agent for Secreta Secretorum where you must navigate between E.Y.E factions, keeping them at bay and reporting to the Secreta. Your role is to serve the organization’s purpose: fight the Meta-streumonic force and overthrow the Federation.

After creating a profile and configuring your character, based on choices of DNA/genetic attributes, you character wakes in sort of a dream world.  As you emerge, you find your memory has been wiped out, and you are forced to play a little catch up, in the middle of sociopolitical turmoil.  In a very Total Recall-esque situation, you come to realize that your Mentor and his superiors are at odds, and you must quickly take a stand for one or the other.  To further complicate things, the group you belong to, E.Y.E., technically doesn’t exist anymore.  It’s been named defunct because it will not bow a knee to the laws and regulations of the Federation, which becomes yet another side you can choose to align with.  If the story sounds confusing, it certainly can be.  Each mission has you choosing how you want to attack your objectives, who’s perspective you want to take, and whose orders you choose to obey.  As confusing as the story is, Streum On has created a rich and vibrant lore to flesh out the backstory for the game’s events and the history leading up to it.  If you are interested, there are some fantastic details on their website here, about the events prior to and surrounding the game’s setting.

The Gameplay

eye-divine-1 The game is built on the now dated Source engine, and I have to say, it plays beautifully.  The lighting and details may not be as sharp as some other competitors, but Source is known for that, and it does a great job of setting the environment.  The first time I launched a new character, into the world of E.Y.E., I was immediately hearkening back to both MDK and Deus Ex.  The shooting has an awesome, visceral feel, and I can’t imagine using anything but your stock, starting pistol and the awesome sniper rifles for weakening from a distance.  If the story is too confusing, than the gameplay and the missions are a brilliant canvas that you can paint however you see fit;with jagged, violent strokes, like a toddler’s fingerpainting, or with sharp, clean lines, leaving a stealthily light footprint.  You have the ability to tweak and customize your character with bionic enhancements, psionic abilities and many attribute buffing perks.  I almost wish you could jump levels faster, but the that may allow you to be a bit overpowered a bit too early.  There is a little uphill climb to the game, it may take a mission for you to get rooted, but once you do, you’ll notice the enemies becoming less easier to pick off, and requiring more tactics and planning to take out.  Your first foray leads you to gang members and low level characters that drop like potato sacks with one or two rounds from your trusty Black Crow pistol.  Progress further, and the higher level enemies not only take more damage, they have more tricks up their sleeve to accost you with.  The AI is pretty good, they attempt to flank you, snipe you, and use their powers to get you; it’s a challenging game.  Between the aforementioned character customization, and the randomization of enemies and NPC’s throughout the game, I’d say E.Y.E. has quite a bit to offer in the realm of replay.

The Verdict

eye-divine-2So let’s address the pink elephant in the room, I’m currently reviewing Deus Ex, to which this game draws obvious comparisons, and they are both genius, in their own right.  Deus Ex has a bit more polish, some prettier visuals and a bit more streamlined story, but the mechanics of each game are varied, and stand very well on their own.  Where I tend to sneak and be stealthy in Deus Ex, I’m not afraid to open fire and charge in headlong, in E.Y.E.  The game is fantastically presented, the missions are insanely fun, and the choice system adds a depth that I wouldn’t expect to find for a mere 20 pesos.  Character creation and balance is interesting and rewarding.  I was puzzled as to why your character will not reload on his own, and that can be frustrating in a firefight.  Further frustration came from a large overhaul, via a game patch, which didn’t require, but really encouraged using a new character and starting from the ground up.  I understand why this had to be done, to fix some of the complaints about the game, but I still had difficulty saying adieu to my first character.  I have heard some criticisms of the ending, which I won’t spoil here, for our readers, and while I understand where those criticisms come from, I also understand what Streum On was trying to do, with game mechanics.  To that end, I’m not nearly as harsh as the critics.  I really enjoyed E.Y.E., I’d go so far as to say that it exceeded my expectations, and there is a fantastic amount of gaming value for your $20 ticket price.

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

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