Version Tested: PC
Available On: Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems
Developer: The Forgone Syndicate
Publisher: Adult Swim
Genre: First Person Shooter
Official Site: DESYNC
Release Date: 02-28-17
Where To Buy: Steam
Adult Swim’s latest adventure into the Indie game publishing world is the retro first person shooter DESYNC, which focuses on difficult and fast paced wave based levels of different enemies. Though it starts off as a colorful and fun shooter, it quickly degrades into a frustrating experienced marred by poor game design.
DESYNC does have an awesome style to it, with retro, Tron-like colored environment and creatures overlaid with an awesome BPM-focused soundtrack. But as it goes on, the vibrant neon colors start to lose its luster and level design and music repeat or lose any semblance of creativity. There is also the small issue of the quick cut glitches that are added to the game when exploring the hub world, as they can be dizzying mixed in with all of the colors in the foreground.
Level design wise, the game feels small. Many levels pigeonhole the player into a small area, blocked off from backtracking or moving forward by invisible walls, filled with hoards of random enemy spawns. For the first couple of levels, the fast paced, corner checking action of DESYNC really meshes well, as dashing, blocking and shooting enemies from all sides feels satisfying. But as the levels progress, the number of enemies and their power seems to as well. With no designated spawner or specific area, enemies can spawn right on top of the player, giving no indication other than a quick white beam – which gets lost in the other colors in the game. It would be nice if there was a radar or an enemy sound indication of the enemies sneaking up, but like their respawn beams, any sound an approaching enemy makes is indistinguishable direction wise.
It wouldn’t be as big of a problem if the enemies weren’t majorly melee based as well, and if those melee enemies weren’t one or two hit killers. Hammer Bros are ridiculously powerful and resulted in almost immediate death if they snuck up on you. If they had a large stomping sound effect and were actually slower than other characters because of their power, they might feel a bit more balanced.
But balance is the overarching issue in this game because even when the player is upgraded, the enemies are either immediately stronger or there are two times as many of them, making the upgrade feel nulled. I understand that the premise of it is to go back to older levels and obtain A rank and try to navigate up the leaderboard, but the game gives no good reason other than putting your name on a list to do so.
At first, it felt like a fun game of laser tag, but once that wears off and you compare it to similar games that are similar to it. The game it measures up to the most is Bulletstorm, one of Cliff Bleszinski’s brain child. But unlike Bulletstorm, DESYNC environmental feels far more limited and is more of a hazard to the player than the enemies. Another similar game, DOOM, is on the surface rather similar, with both games having players run around, fighting an onslaught of enemies in order to progress. But DOOM has layers upon layers of backstory for players to find and awesome environments and landscapes to see. In comparison, DESYNC feels lifeless, with no story, no lore, and very little direction, there’s very little substance to be gained from the game.
It’s not fair to say that DESYNC is a bad game, but overall – for me at least – it is far too frustrating. The Dark Souls approach to gaming is its own niche genre, and appeals to a certain fanbase, maybe this game falls into that as well and I’m just not the demographic. I had a similar experience with Adult swims previous game Rise & Shine, so their approach to games could just not be for me. Honestly, I feel like the game could benefit from, at the very least, a difficulty level system, if not just better overall design. While DESYNC may not have the broad appeal of most mainstream gamer, it could be a fun game for hardcore gamers and masochist.
So be the judge for yourself, maybe you might just love it.
- Gameplay: Like a fun game of Lazer-tag to start, then scale progressively quick and becomes frustrating
- Graphics: Awesome Tron-like neon designs, that make the game feel colorful as a result of their vibrant natures, but does have some dizzying glitch cuts
- Sound: Enjoyable, tone-setting music that fits the design, but eventually begins to repeat
- Presentation: The aesthetic aspects of the game are pleasing, but don’t make up for the frustrating combat and enemy systems
- Aesthetically Appealing
- May Appeal to Hardcore Audience
- Frustrating design and combat
- Feels lifeless
- Useless Upgrades