Defragmented
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 9

Defragmented makes the most of its Cyberpunk setting and while the visuals are not exactly cutting edge the gameplay is very addictive. It is a game that is not afraid to challenge players, but prevailing against the overwhelming odds is extremely satisfying. The game also features a synthwave soundtrack so good it is almost worth the price of admission on its own.

Gameplay: Fast paced and very challenging, but also very addictive and rewarding.

Graphics: Simple, but fitting and the destructible environments are a great touch.

Sound: The soundtrack is pure synthwave epicness

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Defragmented

Developer: Glass Knuckle Games | Publisher: Glass Knuckle Games | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Action / Indie / RPG | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Like all good Cyberpunk tales, Defragmented is set in a bleak future where humanity is on the brink of extinction. The story plays out in the city of Entropolis where, despite the impending doom, humanity continues to do what it does best, kill each other. Your character, a newcomer to the city, walks right into the middle of the whole mess and quickly becomes embroiled in the faction war. Although you start out as a clueless enforcer for a rebel group called Via Ascencio” it doesn’t take very long to discover that the city holds plenty of dark secrets.

Defragmented tells its tale via visual novel style cut-scenes between levels, but most of your time will be spent fighting for survival. It is a game where death is swift, brutal and very frequent if you try to rush in and play the hero. Its top down perspective might make it look like a typical twin stick shooter, but unlike other games your character is unlikely to survive more than one shotgun blast to the face. Your objective is typically to kill every enemy patrolling the levels, but this is easier said than done. With no checkpoints and very well armed opponents you can forget about a frontal assault. It is not uncommon to go down in a hail of bullets within seconds of starting a level, so showing a little restraint, assessing the situation and playing dirty is essential.

The game is extremely fast paced, which means you need to think on your feet if you want to make it out of gunfights alive. You’ll soon learn the importance of sneaking up on enemies and shooting them in the back of the head or ambushing them around corners. Enemies mostly stick to set patrols, but will hunt you down if they spot you. This means that observation and planning will get you much further than a headlong rush into danger. It is a game where the odds are never in your favor and enemies rarely miss.

Your character on the other hand can miss, even if you have your sights set perfectly on your foes. This is because of the role playing elements that bestows each weapon with a myriad of stats, including accuracy. It is initially quite frustrating to spray hot lead at your enemies with what you think is pinpoint accuracy only to watch it all whizz right past their heads. As you progress you find newer and better weapons, but it is still something that takes a while to get used to.

Weapons are also divided into categories such as pistol, SMG, rifle, shotgun and energy, each with their own uses. Sniper rifles are great for picking off foes or taking down turrets from a distance, but when an angry mob comes running around a corner you’ll want your trusty shotgun. Your character can hold up to three weapons at a time, but key an eye on your ammunition as it is not unlimited. To make things a little easier every weapon in the game, including those carried by your enemies, comes equipped with a laser scope. This is useful for aiming and for seeing what enemies have a gun pointed in your general direction.

Visually the game has a clean and stylish look that matches its Cyberpunk setting, but it does sacrifice some detail. The use of glowing neon lights and searing lasers look great, but characters are made up of simple polygons without any facial features. Levels are not very big either, but feature interesting layouts and some very impressive destruction. After clearing a room it will usually be covered in blood splatters and bodies along with bits of broken scenery. We do have a bit of a gripe with the camera because it can feel somewhat unwieldy in the heat of battle. Switching to an over the shoulder angle gives you a better view of your surroundings, but the top down view is easier for shooting. You can rotate the camera around you in 90 degree increments, but the ability to zoom out a bit further would have been appreciated. Holding down the spacebar allows you to “peek” ahead, but this is too cumbersome to use in combat.

When it comes to character customization your only options are gender and skin color. You do have access to three different classes though, which provides the game with some nice replay value as each has their own skill trees and specialties. Cyberzerkers start the game armed with a shotgun and their skills make them a little tougher in battle while Railrunners are the sneaky type. There is also an Ascended class whose specialties leans towards energy weapons and shields.

No matter what class you pick though you are in for a challenge, even on the easiest difficulty setting. The difficulty spikes quite high on a few levels, but thankfully you can retry the level instantly. The bad news is that restarting means having to do so from scratch, even if you were killed by a lucky shot from the last thug on the level. This can be quite frustrating, but levels are generally quite short once you figure out the best plan of action. Each time you do restart a level the weapons carried by enemies are randomized, so it means you have to adapt your tactics accordingly.

The audio is easily the best part of Defragmented and while it features no voice acting the synthwave soundtrack is nothing short of awesome. It is impossible not to get caught up in the atmosphere of the game while listening to the tunes and each track is a perfect match for the action. Different electronic musicians contributed to the soundtrack, include a few who previously composed tunes for the likes of KUNG Fury, Hotline Miami 2 and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Once you get into the groove of the game the music can become almost hypnotic and thankfully retrying a level does not restart the music.

Overall Defragmented is a very enjoyable Action RPG that features plenty of great touches. We love the fact that progressing through the levels requires players to hone their skills, but of course not everyone will relish the challenge. Persistence does pay off though and when you do get stuck there is always the option to reset your talents, upgrade your loadout or simple revisit a previous level and complete it on a higher difficulty. Completing the game took us about five hours, but there are plenty of achievements to aim for as well as a “Game +” mode that unlocks. Players willing to put in the time and effort to become good at the game will enjoy Defragmented, but it is certainly not a title for the easily frustrated.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel Core HD 4000
  • Storage: 3 GB available space
  • OS: Windows Vista/7/8/10
  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660
  • Storage: 5 GB available space
  • OS: Mac OSX
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel Core HD 4000
  • Storage: 3 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 10
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel Core HD 4000
  • Storage: 3 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 14.04
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2.8Ghz or equivalent
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 450, AMD Radeon HD 5670 or better
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space

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