Divination is a Short Game That Explores Consequences

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The idea of the butterfly effect can be fascinating. How much of a difference can one decision make? Divination is a game that attempts to explore that. It very briefly tasks someone with acting as a potentially robotic fortune-teller. Your choices across four sessions end up influencing society.

Divination’s concept is an intriguing one. As the game begins, even you have no idea who you are. You see a date. You watch a brief news report. A guest arrives. After introducing themselves, they’ll ask a question. You have the option to ask them a few questions, to learn more about the situation. For example, one visitor appears to be a scientist. His wife and daughter were in an accident. His daughter has been unconscious since. After he picks the runes, you take them and arrange them to determine the future.

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While Divination is a visual novel, the casting of the runes also means it is something of a puzzle game too. The course of the future and level of chaos in society is determined by the order in which you place runes. Your first meeting is fairly simple. The client only picks two runes. But subsequent guests will pick more. The order you choose and the results of past sessions influence how many additional runes could be available. Once you have more, order is more importance. So is watching the way they interact with one another before you present the final result.

There are some mature concepts at play. Divination only gives you a taste of them. After all, you’re basically a pair of robotic hands trapped in a room. What you know about the world is what you see on screens. There was an AI named Mother who helped manage society. Mother committed suicide. Corruption, crime, and cults followed. Not to mention moral dilemmas about the treatment of robots and the nature of them. There’s a lot to explore! Which… unfortunately you don’t get to do. You meet four people. You influence their current situation. They tell you their dreams before they leave, which feels like it acts as a hint of things to come and means of handling other clients. Your actions and theirs alter the level of chaos in this dystopia.

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The thing is, Divination is such a short game. Something that doesn’t wear out its welcome is nice. But there are some concepts and ideas here that are barely explored. There are people I’d like to know more about. I would have wanted to see them return for a second or third reading, especially since your first guest does mention prior consultations. The execution doesn’t do the idea justice. Also, even though there are different outcomes you can see, there is one real ending. It isn’t difficult to reach.

Much like the ideas presented in the game itself, Divination reminds me of what could have been. It has potential. I wanted to try and make the dystopia better. Even though some of the characters appear briefly, I wanted to know them better. But after about a half hour, or maybe less depending on how many questions you ask, you could be done.

Divination is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC

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