Divination is an extremely short narrative game by Mojiken Studio. I played through the game several times and got the true ending in just over an hour, but on the bright side it costs less than the price of a cup of coffee. While the game deals with some interesting concepts, Divination is sadly held back by its poor English translation.
Developer: Mojiken Studio
Platforms: Windows PC (Reviewed), Mac
Release Date: December 12th, 2019
Divination is set in a cyberpunk dystopia where robots and advanced AI are commonplace. It has been three years since Mother, the advanced AI that governed society, killed herself and revealed the deep-seated rot and corruption among the world’s upper and ruling classes.
This final act is called Mother’s Wisdom by some, and it threw the world into chaos. The subject matter of Mother’s last breath has been banned, and those that revere her are hunted down as political dissents. Protests, riots, and attacks by revolutionary groups are now part of daily life.
Even more disturbing is the rising number of people so disenfranchised with society that they turn to suicide. The problem was so prevalent among robots in particular that the government was forced to installed special chips in them.
This prevents robots from killing themselves, but many are so devastated by the lack of control they have over their own fate that they have to have their memory banks wiped.
Divination deals with some heavy subject matter. Suicide, societal decay, and finding meaning in one’s life are all central to the story.
The game also dips heavily into the morality of AI and robots, with many characters pondering if its okay for humanity to replicate sentience and emotion in artificial beings that are built only to serve us and make daily life easier.
You play as a faceless fortune teller in a room full of screens. You spend your days watching the chaos of the world unfold through news broadcasts until you get a new client. All you ask in return for your fate-altering wisdom is for a client to tell you about their last dream.
Divination‘s story revolves around you telling the fortunes of four seemingly unrelated clients. An investigator convinced that an arsonist about to be set free will return to his old ways. A seasoned hitman paranoid that his next job will go south. A robotics engineer desperate to find a way to revive his comatose robotic “daughter.” A robot looking for the meaning of life.
Your fortunes will decide the fate of these individuals, but ultimately, there is only one “true” ending to their stories.
The game’s fortune system is how you will divine the fates of your four clients, and ultimately, the fate of Divination‘s society as a whole. Your client will draw runes and hand them to you.
Each rune is a different image. It’s your job to read these runes and figure out the correct order to place them so that they form a complete picture.
The system isn’t really explained, but its simple enough to figure out on your own. Each fortune is an experimental puzzle, and the pictures are full of symbolism that you have to decipher to craft the correct fortune. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about the system much more, or I risk spoiling large parts of the game.
Divination‘s story, themes, and mechanics are all backed up by an ominous electronic soundtrack and some slightly dark and disturbing visuals. The artwork is fairly simple, but the game’s presentation is overall pretty solid.
Divination does a good job of presenting players with an oppressive and grim futuristic setting, even if they aren’t directly interacting with the world themselves.
While the game’s presentation and interface are nice, Divination‘s biggest flaw is definitely its shoddy English translation. Poorly worded sentences, spelling errors, and punctuation mistakes riddle nearly every screen. Its a real shame, because Divination‘s story and world are quite engaging, but your immersion is often shattered as you try to read your way through the game’s butchered sentences.
As I said at the beginning of the review, Divination is extremely short. I don’t think anyone will spend more than about an hour with the game, and that includes figuring out the true ending.
The price is right at only $2, but I still can’t help but wish the experience was longer. Hopefully Mojiken expands the game’s setting and mechanics into a longer experience at some point.
If you are looking for a bite-sized chunk of cyberpunk philosophy, then Divination is worth giving a try. It’s only about an hour long, with a cheap price tag to match.
The rune reading mechanics are unique, and I’d love to see them fleshed out more in a longer game. The game’s setting, presentation, and themes are also all pretty engaging. It’s just a shame that the poor English translation will often pull you out of the experience.
Divination was reviewed on Windows PC using a review copy provided by Mojiken Studio. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.