The latest release from Eastasiasoft, Divination – a game developed by Bluilisht, is a cyberpunk graphic novel where you take control of the Divinator – a futuristic clairvoyant that predicts the fate of their clients.
You’ve built a solid reputation as your clientele is pretty diverse – including both sides of law enforcement. Your clients will come to your establishment and ask a specific question. From here, you can check a handful of leading questions and then draw upon some runes to give them their answer.
There are no walkthroughs or tutorials in Divination. You’re thrown into the deep end immediately, but the set-up is decent with just the right amount of exposition without it being patronising. “You remember your father, the one who was arrested for shooting the Chief of Police, which made you pursue a career in law enforcement to stop all wrong-doers? Oh, and you never want to be paired up with anyone else. Not since that incident that led you to drink…” You get the point. None of that here.
Instead, your faceless proxy will manipulate the screen before them, watching the news around the city and waiting for their next client. Once you’ve asked your questions, you manually take the runes from the client and then place them to predict a future. There’s no hand-holding whatsoever, and for the first couple of attempts, I didn’t even try putting the runes in any order as I didn’t realise I had to.
Inserting a rune into your device will depict a holographic image that will change depending on the next rune and in which order. You have to use all the runes to proceed, but there’s no indication of the outcome until you check the reading. The story will develop, and then you serve the next person/robot until the session completes.
Divination is incredibly short – possibly one of the shortest games I’ve played recently, and that initially disappointed me. You’ll often play the game repeatedly until you get the proper ending. How you get there is confusing, but I will cast a spoiler (without any instructions): you need to encourage chaos. It’s unclear, and I must have repeated the same endings for a good 45 minutes until I got the right combination. A new ending unlocked, and it was expertly told, despite the duration.
And that’s where my perception changed. Divination features some really lovely artwork (check the screenshots), and the soundtrack by Masdito Bachtiar/Ittou Soundworks was superb. Somewhat understated, but a standout nevertheless. The same applies to the story and writing: I thoroughly enjoyed it, soon discovering that my disappointment was because I wanted more.
You’ll note that I haven’t covered the underlying story of the game other than your function, notably because I don’t want to spoil it. A forewarning: it does have a theme of suicide in the narrative, which is understandably a sensitive subject. However, it’s tastefully done, in my opinion.
People will often jump to conclusions (myself included) without experiencing something directly, so before having a negative opinion about this being pretty damn short, the game does state this. It’s ‘a short-experimental game made for one month during Mojikencamp’. Within that context, Divination is one of the better games I’ve played in terms of ‘experimental’, but be aware that you could complete this in less than an hour.
Divination is fairly priced on the Switch (if you’re reading this and don’t have the Nintendo rectangle, it’s also available on PC), and the storytelling, artwork and soundtrack make it a worthwhile experience. Again, be advised on the duration and that you’re likely to repeat play until you solve the story’s puzzle. Do check it out.