Your charge is to defend a pristine river against a falling tide of poisonous bubbles, using a sword controlled by your gestural input. Move the mouse quickly, and the sword point will slice across the screen, dividing unfortunate bubbles in two. Move it slowly, and you can nudge a bubble in whichever direction you please, though this is a much more difficult maneuver. Once you have charged your power strike, execute it by holding the mouse button and slashing.
Each level presents you with a single giant bubble, but your attacks will subdivide it like a wobbly translucent asteroid until you are faced with a screen-full of little bubble fragments. Once they are small enough, a final strike will shatter them into harmless snowflakes. Clear the screen to advance.
After a few levels, you gain access to a new weapon, a sort of heavy yo-yo on an elastic band that will leap about the bottom of the screen like a deadly puppy. To use it, catch its ring-shaped handle with the mouse button and heave it towards the encroaching bubbles. On release, spinning blades will sprout from the yo-yo's core and massacre any bubble under a certain size that dares to stand in its way.
Analysis: Bisection Dominion is a quietly beautiful game, with artwork inspired by old Chinese lithographs and a peaceful score by Matthew Steele. As you advance levels, the barren landscape gradually populates with details, which is a nice incentive to play well. The closer you are to losing the game, the darker and redder the river becomes, which is a nice incentive to tense up and make mistakes.
Your first couple of Bisection Dominion games may end more swiftly than you expected. The bubbles react to your jabs and prods like whimsical puffs of nothing, continuing to divide after you think you've sliced them into individual molecules, and diving terrifyingly downwards when you pierce them from the wrong direction.
It turns out that you are massively overpowered, with your awesome sword and your ultra-cool spinning bladed hammer bolo of doom. Out-of-control hacking will only create a huge bubble army, and a misjudged toss of the hammer can bump a bubble into the river from above after its blades retract. You must learn to be precise, to gently lift some bubbles out of danger while you attack smaller ones, to clean shop with the hammer when you have the watery fiends lined up properly. You must balance the soft touch with the quick strike with the flamboyant coup de grâce. You must be mindful.
The connection between player and cursor feels solid and tactile. Successfully nudging a bubble without cutting it is a joyful experience, like keeping a balloon in the air with your fingertips, worth repeating even if it weren't necessary to stay alive. There may be a handful of technical issues with Bisection Dominion (moving the cursor outside of the play screen breaks your control, and the music cuts out after a single cycle), but the center of the game is nearly perfect.
We often talk about the zen of gaming, but rarely does a game embrace the idea so whole-heartedly.