Get DESYNC’d in this super-stylish, neon-drenched shooter.
DESYNC is an arcade-style FPS that breathes synthwave and electronica incarnate. But instead of A E S T H E T I C levels of challenge, I found it to be another difficult clusterfudge (see Alwa’s Awakening for a less difficult clusterfudge) that grades your performance. In this case, my rather crappy performance. And thus, so far, my kinda crappy experience.
So how’s the story here? Well, there isn’t one. The best I’ve made up is that I am some programmed entity hacking into some… place and being attacked by said digital zone’s security.
DESYNC is an arcade-style FPS that has weapons with primary and secondary attacks, equipment slots, upgrades and a point system. You have a dash as well, that you can use to evade attacks, but doesn’t make you invulnerable nor allow you to move through enemies. Oh and you have a minuscule useless jump too.
The game is fun in that combo-killing enemies provides you with points that the game grades you with. When done for the first time, it slows the kill down and labels the combo such as EVADER (dodge an enemy attack and then kill them – bonus 500pts!). Killing enemies in different ways provides different drops (ammo, health etc.) that you need to run over to collect. This increases the difficulty as you’ll need to position yourself appropriately to pick them up.
As you progress through the game, you uncover somewhat hidden shards in the levels with which to upgrade your arsenal. You also find 2 equipment slots where you can add “helpful” devices that can be activated once charged appropriately by enemy deaths.
I say “helpful” because to use one of the devices, you need to find and pick it up in the level once activated. And then it is rather difficult to press Q to block enemy attacks correctly (e.g. first item – AEGIS) while moving and avoiding attacks anyways.
The level design further complicates difficulty – it can alleviate or increase it. Levels are quite disorienting and the use of similar colors doesn’t help much either. There is a tiny red arrow to help you find your way to the next part but it only appears after a delay. I assume designers felt replaying levels would help navigation as the game is designed for replayability and rankings.
There are traps (thankfully colored red to standout) in the levels as well, that can hurt both you and enemies. I felt that the collision detection for traps and enemy attacks was unclear at times however. You dash, but don’t avoid an attack or trap you feel you should have and proceed to over-compensate or simply kill enemies just to survive.
The camera distortion also doesn’t help this either, which may or may not be a clash of form over function. It drives the theme home but creates unnecessary tunnel-vision that can mess up judgement of space and thus degrade your ability to dodge (maybe not being a collision problem but a view problem).
Enemies are quite smart – making the game even more difficult. They don’t simply run into traps blindly, they attempt to go around them and can often catch you in splinter attacks. They are varied too – some are hard hitting melee opponents, ranged or mid-ranged, or downright instant-transmission-ing mini-boss bastards. There can also be augmented versions. Those have color coded adjustments/armor, increasing a certain stat such as defense or speed.
DESYNC would be hard as balls for many to play. You need to have lightning reflexes, quick fingers and great mouse skills to progress past the later levels of the game. Even the first level was quite difficult for me. So far, the best grade I’ve gotten was an A… on the first level… after revisiting it. Thank goodness for some upgrades.
The game has really cool synth wave sounds, but a limited soundtrack so far. It’d be better if more songs with greater variety were included to alleviate the frustration of replaying levels repeatedly. I do like a lot of the sounds in general though. They all really fit the theme.
A E S T H E T I C
Ok I know it isn’t exactly vaporwave, but the color palette is quite close. I really appreciate the thought that went into the design and UI (except the levels themselves – so many greys). I think it’s done quite well, even if a seizure warning is required.
There are VHS lines and distortions as if you’re playing an old cassette. The menu itself integrates nicely with the synthwave retro theme.
+ A E S T H E T I C
+ Challenge (to an extent)
– Tunnel-vision camera
– Possible hitbox issues
– Level design
– Lack of better orientation
– Difficulty curve
– The disappointing synth sounds when you get a grade lower than B 🙁
Overall, if you are great at these types of games go ahead. Die multiple times and once more throw your keyboard and mouse into the sun (don’t do that – peripherals are expensive!).
Release Date: February 28th, 2017
Publisher: The Foregone Syndicate
Developer: Adult Swim Games