Disintegration Review – Creative Ideas Left In Boring Places

Disintegration Review

Disintegration is the latest effort by the Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto and his new development team V1 Interactive. They set out with a lofty goal of trying to create an entirely new genre of game, like a souls-like of sorts (Disintegration-like? We’ll work on it). This ambitious mash-up of real-time-strategy and first-person-shooter is full of charm and impressive visuals. Unfortunately,  the ideas just feel… hollow. Let me explain.

Disintegration is set in a sci-fi world where people’s consciousnesses are becoming Integrated into robot forms (a la Ghost in the Shell). Of course, as you’d expect, this creates a faction of evil corporations enslaving people’s minds to create muderbots. You play as Romer Shoal, an integrated ex-celebrity and gravecycle racer, leading a resistance for freedom and to reclaim their human bodies. 

People being integrated works to connect the story and gameplay in an interesting way. As you’d expect out of an RTS, your units are meant to die and replaced, but the first-person narrative demands a more personal story and interesting characters. But don’t worry, since your squadmates are integrated, when they die, their physical forms will just be reconstructed and sent back into battle! 

Rev Your Engines

But unlike an RTS, you actually end up commanding a small squad rather than an army. But the big difference with Disintegration with other tactical squad shooters is your access to the gravcycle, which allows you to change your elevation and hover wherever you want. This can give you a high vantage point, allowing you to command from above like in an RTS. However, the thing is that the sky doesn’t have anything to hide behind, meaning you will be spending almost all of your gameplay stuck on the ground anyways. So, yeah, in the end, it feels like a squad shooter… this is where the problems come in.

Early within development Disintegration is reported to have been a real-time-strategy game, but they decided that was too plain, and came up with the first-person-shooter angle. It’s not a terrible idea considering RTSs have been in the decline as of late, with FPS steadily rising. I also like the idea of trying to breathe new life into RTS as well. But unfortunately, I can tell that this was an idea thrown in at the end. The genres just don’t jive well, at least not in the way that Disintegration does it. You can’t just put sushi on a pizza and call it Japanese-Italian fusion, right? 

I Can’t Get No

The way it is, it currently feels like a watered-down RTS combined with a watered-down FPS. The biggest culprit is the FPS part of it, as it just doesn’t feel satisfying to shoot at anything. Your guns don’t do any damage, and every enemy feels like giant bullet sponges. Without hitzone values either, you can’t improve your damage by scoring headshots.

To be able to deal damage, you need to order your squad to hit your opponents with abilities that will make them more vulnerable. I understand that they don’t want you to just win the game by being a good shooter, but it just felt like a ham-fisted solution. 

The major problems with the abilities are their insanely long cast times, leading to everything feeling unresponsive. To fix this problem, abilities track their targets but that just means it rewards you for spamming the abilities off cooldown rather than placing them strategically.

Additionally, simplifying the RTS component meant they did away with the resource management part of it. So yes, you can sit back and endlessly send in your endless supply of squadmates and eventually grind anything down. Is it a fun way to play? No, but it works every time.

Honestly, the game just bored me. No matter how I played, strategy-focused, reckless, or balanced, every enemy I fought could be defeated the same way: spam abilities. I tried playing in all difficulties. The easy side is too easy, and hard is even worse because rather than making the game harder, it just turns the enemies into a thicker sponge. 

There is an online mode, and the added chaos and customization is definitely great. Still, I was feeling that I’d rather play other better RTSs or FPSs over Disintegration. But maybe you’d like the unique mix of styles in multiplayer.

Overall, this was a solid effort that felt quite polished. Unfortunately, it’s missing the most important thing in video games—fun. Perhaps some updates could fix this, but it would take a creative overhaul to do so.  

***PC review code provided by the publisher.***

The Good

  • Unique attempt at mixing FPS and RTS
  • Charming characters
  • Multiplayer features

The Bad

  • Ham-fisted mashup
  • Poor gunplay
  • Uninteresting abilities