E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy is an unusual little game that seemingly came out of nowhere on Steam. I don't recall having seen anything related to it at all until the Steam page went up. A few of my friends convinced me it was worth a try and, considering it was only $20, I went for it.
What IS E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy, though? I can safely say after having put a few hours into it that I have absolutely no idea. It seems to be a Deus Ex/Matrix/Shadowrun RPG set in a dystopian Bladerunner-esque world. You play the role of an agent of the titular E.Y.E., some kind of psychic cyber-monk order (think 40k space marines) who lost most of your memories after waking up after a mission gone awry.
There IS a story (and it's laden with conspiracies and doublecrosses) but it often seems like an excuse for the mission objectives. That said, there's a LOT of backstory and world information you can read from terminals or from talking to NPCs. It's a fairly well-developed and interesting world, even if it's not often well-explained.
This lack of explanations carries over into almost every aspect of the game. After creating your character by splicing three geneseeds together (each gives you bonuses and penalties) you are literally dropped into a cave with nothing other than the order "get OUT". This is NOT a game you can just jump into and expect to understand, as anyone who's watched the quick look can plainly see. There are a whopping 23 tutorial videos available and they barely scratch the surface. I highly suggest you take the time to watch them all and do some research on the forums before you dive in.
Gameplay-wise, E.Y.E is fairly reminiscent of the original Deus Ex with its FPS/RPG system and multiple objective paths. The shooting feels fine, with each gun having a fairly distinct style and use. The shotguns are especially notable for not being completely useless at mid to long range and my favorite weapon was easily the .444 Bear Killer, a revolver so big it only holds 4 shots and can down helicopters in 2. You can mix and match weapons in a grid inventory (see the Resident Evil series or, again, Deus Ex) and can customize your loadout as you see fit. Want light armor, a silenced sniper rifle, and dual pistols for a stealthy run? Or perhaps heavy armor, a minigun, a revolver, and a battleaxe? Both (and everything in between) are possible, limited by your strength score and what you can squeeze into your inventory. Heavier armor and weight loads slow you down substantially but allow you to survive longer in combat, a fairly even tradeoff. Your melee weapons can be used to parry bullets, making them useful even against heavily-armed enemies. Of special note is ammunition: you have to choose how many clips for each weapon to bring with you, each of which takes up space, and reloading a gun causes you to lose any bullets left in the clip. No magic ammo consolidation here, which is either amazing or horrible depending on your point of view.
That seems to be the overall style of this game, really; you're either going to love it or it's going to drive you completely insane. Make no mistakes: E.Y.E is not going to hold your hand nor give you a glowing line to follow. On the other hand, this leaves you remarkably free to pursue objectives in whatever order you like, sometimes having mutually-exclusive paths in each level. The game it reminds me most of, even moreso than Deus Ex, is Demon's Souls. It is similarly as obtuse, confusing, and difficult, and I loved every minute of it.
Character customization is great, with tons of stats and abilities to spend points on. You get 3 points every level to put into attributes and can use money ("brouzofs") to upgrade cybernetic implants, buy new psionic powers, or unlock new weapons to use. All of these have various stat requirements, making it difficult to have a character who can do everything, at least without serious grinding. Many upgrades require research to unlock; this is done from your menu as you pick-up random things to research from defeated enemies. These take time and money to discover and the results may give you stat boosts, unlock new upgrades, or do nothing at all.
The core abilities deserving of special mention are the psionic powers and hacking system. Psionic powers can be used to do everything from lifting barrels and flinging them at enemies to driving them crazy to teleporting you right to them and blowing them up. Most enemies (especially mechanical ones like turrets) can be hacked, making them fight to defend you, stealing their energy, letting you control them directly, or simply blowing them up. This is accomplished through an on-the-fly hacking interface that shows you all available targets within range and allows you to pit your hacking skills against their defenses in a kind of minigame, choosing different programs to attack, defend, debuff, etc. Failure can do nothing, leave you drained of energy and hacked (complete with annoying flashy popup) or (rarely) fry your brain and kill you instantly. It requires a lot of investment, both in stats and time spent, but allows you to dominate most of the game.
You can play through the campaign either solo or 2-player co-op, as well as various multiplayer modes. The non-co-op ones involve teams of up to 34 players running around and completing objectives or killing each other to STOP them from completing objectives. This can get a little crazy in games with large teams, as they often complete all the objectives before you even reach any of them.
The game looks very nice, with good graphics and a dystopian cyberpunk setting that feels fresh despite being influenced by other works in the genre. It's refreshing to BE part of the ancient conspiracy for once, and no faction is clearly designated as "the good guys" or "the bad guys", leaving you free to choose based on your experiences.
Bottom Line: If you're willing to put in the time and effort to figure it out, E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy is an excellent and challenging game that doesn't assume you're an idiot who can't follow directions and gives you freedom to pursue whatever playstyle you like. If you're impatient, short-tempered, or like to be told exactly where to go, look elsewhere. This game is basically Deus Ex meets Demon's Souls, with everything that implies, and a good deal at $20.
Just remember: all hail the space turtle.