It's a shame, because at its core, beneath all the clutter and obstructive design there's a half-decent shooter engine and some very clever ideas. There can be multiple objectives in each mission, leading to different map areas and different outcomes, so there's incentive to poke around and try things other than dashing about shooting like a loon.
Your character can also be driven insane, resulting in blurred vision and random bursts of panicked shooting. This can be cured, but to find out how you need to delve back into the wall of video tutorials (which are also blurred by your rampant paranoia), to find out which single button press will stop the madness.
There are also dozens of intriguing augmentations and auxiliary powers you can make use of, but working out what you're purchasing and equipping is yet another dark art the game asks you to master.
After about five missions, I discovered that pressing Z would summon a quartet of armoured companions who would attack any enemies in sight, or else they'd just stand around doing nothing and block doorways. This ability was never introduced or explained, and I only found it after checking the controls and then pressing every button listed to see what happened.
Similarly baffling, one of the first unlocks on offer is Cormack's Algorithm. It costs 10,500 Brouzofs. What is it? "Strange and complex algorithm which has never been enlightened of the great Professor Cormack, legendary disciple of P. Lenestour." So, yeah, thanks for that. After one mission I was told that my "note" on "Kladun's Ladder" was 2/10. Was that a really bad mission rating? Or had I accumulated two of something with eight more to find or earn? And who the f*** is Kladun and why am I on his ladder?
And this is just the first few hours with the game. For every new feature you work out, there are five more that remain shrouded in mist. For every up there's a dizzying down that leaves you scratching your head.
There can be joy in such discovery, but E.Y.E. is so relentlessly obtuse that it becomes wearying. It's rare to come across a game that leaves you so in the dark, so unsure as to whether you're at fault or the game. And what makes it so infuriating is that it's so utterly unnecessary. With some prudent editing, a better menu system and some on-screen prompts, this could be a little gem.
The weapon mechanics are solid, if a little lacking in visceral oomph, and the game also introduces a feature that I wish more shooters would offer: should you reload with bullets still in the current magazine, you throw those bullets away. There's a clever hacking game, where failure results in your target hacking you back. Along with the multitude of vaguely explained abilities to play around with, these are the small notes of ingenuity that suggest there's a fantastic game to be found in the guts of this unwieldy creation, if only the garbled surface layers would let it out.
Yet this is undermined by simplistic enemy AI and curious weapon balancing. Even when playing in a city environment, there are no civilian characters, which can't help but diminish the atmosphere. Every enemy you see will simply come jogging towards you, chipping away at your health with spookily accurate fire as they go. Until you build up your stealth abilities there's not much point trying to sneak past, and once you are all stealthed up, there's little satisfaction in evading such dimwitted drones.
With its shaggy construction and wild ambition, E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy is as difficult to dislike as it is to recommend. If you have the patience and resolve, you might be able to squirm past the numerous needless barriers the game places in your path and enjoy the goodness that is so frustratingly locked away inside.
For most players, however, the choice between a well-intentioned but hopelessly wonky Deus Ex knock-off and the superbly polished official Deus Ex sequel now on sale will be an easy one.
5 / 10