Platform: PlayStation VR2
Release: July 4th, 2023
Synapse is the latest one-player first-person sci-fi shooter to grace the PS VR2 experience on the PS5. Snyapse would fit the bill of Christopher Nolan’s movie and has the sci-fi feel while still being deeply rooted in a first-person shooter that utilises all the PS VR2 has to offer.
When the game starts, there is a wow moment almost instantly before you start the tutorial and the game itself. The world is rich and detailed; this subconscious world is intriguing and sets a cinematic scene for the game. The VR experience is immersive, and the game gives a wonderful unique cinematic quality; the landscapes are wonderfully rendered and detailed. The voice acting of David Hayter and Jennifer Hale provides another cinematic quality and direction to the game. The voice acting enhances the storytelling, and putting the puzzle pieces together adds another layer to the game. Soundtracks and sound effects enhance the gaming experience. Using colours and tones in sync with sound effects provides an amazing immersive VR experience. The game runs at 120hz, reprojected.
Gameplay consists of being a first-person shooter, but in this game, you can use telekinesis to lift objects with your other hand, which raises the game and makes it stand out. The telekinesis force is the ability to pick things and ragdoll enemies around the screen while; your other hand can hold a variety of guns. As the game is a roguelike, you can enhance these abilities as you play through the game. Shooting your guns and aiming is responsive and accurate. The telekinesis ability is the standout gameplay element, making the gaming experience rich and fun; you can think of ingenious ways to kill your enemies using this ability. Also, the images of random boxes flung across the screen are always enjoyable! The game is super; smooth and silky to play; the experience is fantastic, apart from the moments where I got motion sickness. First-person shooters in VR have this issue where you can’t play for extended periods. This detracts from the VR experience and makes engrossing in a game hard.
The controls are intuitive, and the dual-wielding controllers to mimic your hands in the game in combination with the eye-tracking make the telekinesis effect give a sense that you have the power. The telekinesis control is the game’s standout element; the ability to pick up items and move them with ease is rewarding and satisfying. There is a cover mechanism to hide behind objects and avoid fire from enemies. The climbing mechanism allows you to shortcut through maps or climb up ledges if you happen to fall, an underrated gameplay mechanic,
I found the music and soundtrack reminiscent of a sci-fi film that fits perfectly with the theme and story and is further enhanced; by voice acting and storytelling. The soundtrack does raise the game and tone with subtle dark tones as you navigate through this eerie mad world. Tensions are heightened, and again the soundtrack elevates the gameplay to warn the player of potential dangers. It’s the mix of dark electronica and this dark, colourless world, all enriched by an amazing score.
Like any roguelike, you have access to the skill tree, which allows you to level your up character in three distinct areas to match your gameplay style. Tactician skills will enable you to rank up your telekinesis abilities which focus on the improvement and ability to grab enemies. The survivor skill tree enhances your health and the ability to replenish health more readily through the fountains. The assassin skill tree focuses on your guns, particularly the amount of ammo and the strength of your weapons. Skilltree allows you to focus your upgrade on suiting your playstyle.
Enemy variety needs to be improved, and one of the issues is that you encounter the same enemy types repeatedly; more and different enemy types would have made the game much better. This does impact the replayability of the game and is an oversight.
There is a lot of promise in the game; that’s the ultimate issue, it could have been so much more, but it’s limited. It’s a roguelike experience which is fine, but the lack of variety of enemies severely limits the game. Enemies scale appropriately thorough the game, but you encounter the same enemies repeatedly who randomly spawn and teleport. The look, feel, design and presentation are all stunning; the lack of colours sometimes gives this bland and uninspiring feel. The voice acting is superb, and the mysterious story gives extra depth to the game. It’s a good game that promises a lot but only partially delivers on its potential.
Enjoys more than the odd game, long time gamer, somewhat a technologist and everything else in between.
Also enjoys a good solid game of FIFA online. Currently PS4, XBOX 360 and STEAM.