popskinz's Frozen Synapse (PC) review

This intoxicating strategy game is loads of fun.

Taking one glance at Frozen Synapse will immediately reveal the focus of this indie-developed title. This is clearly a deep and challenging top-down turn-based strategy game that's all about finess, wit and the ability to predict your opponents next move, all before the outcome of your choices are played back right before your very eyes. Though it may look overly subdued and complicated, rest assure that this strategy gem is an absolutely intoxicating experience that will continuously wow you with its incredible intricacies and ridiculously addictive gameplay. So if you have a spare twenty dollars and even the slightest interest in strategy games, then you should download Frozen Synapse whenever the possibility arises.

So, what makes this game such an intricate and enjoyable experience? Well for starters, it's both a real-time and turn-based strategy game infused with cyberpunk aesthetics all at once, letting you que up moves and tactics in a frozen state and then watch the consequences unfold in the form of a brief video snippet. What makes Frozen Synapse so different, is the fact that you can simulate all of your choices and see what might happen, and from there on, try to figure out what your opponent will do in the coming turns and once you're satisfied, hit the prime button, watch the outcome, prep yourself for the next turn and continue to experiment and uncover new ways to emerge victorious. Yeah, it's incredibly deep but it caters well to newcomers, as the game features a smooth interface and tactics that are easy to employ as well as a bevy of tutorials to get you going. Frozen Synapse is a game that will make you think on a level rarely seen in most strategy games, putting you into a mindset you'd normaly find yourself in when playing a tense game of chess.

In Frozen Synapse, you control a small squad of soldiers in a procedurally generated map with each unit wielding a different weapon and the goal is to simply decimate the opposing team. You then simulate various approaches in tandem with your enemy and then execute those moves with battles taking place in real-time. From the outset, you have five different commands to give to your units, like telling them where to go with the use of waypoints, or ordering them to aim at a designated spot or enemy. It's crucial that you weave these simple orders and produce game-changing tactics as you can never be completely sure what your enemy will do next, which creates an unparalleled amount of tension. Being cunning and patient will meet you with success, so dont you dare attempt any brain dead schemes.

Frozen Synapse features some truly robust multiplayer options, with integrated chat and friends-list options and replays of matches can even be exported to Youtube. However, if you're type of person who's into fast multiplayer action then the hours upon hours and then some it can take just to finish one match will seem absolutetly ridiculous. You're actually meant to play multiple matches at a time, and whenever your opponent has primed his move, you'll receive an email notification and then the result of those moves will be played out. It may all sound superficial, but if you can cope with it, you'll find the multiplayer action in Frozen Synapse to be loads of fun and there are plentiful leaderboards to build some incentive.

But of course, most will start with the singleplayer campaign which spans a whopping 55 missions that are all varied and demanding. You'll escort V.I.P's, extract intel, defend areas, sneak past security systems and much more. The problem is that the difficulty often ranges from challenging to downright absurd, as missions involving enemies that you cant see lest they are in your line of sight can be particularly frustrating. There is also a fairly irreverent story tying things together--involving corporations, conspiracies and lots of jargon-heavy dialogue. It's a bit campy but it does help establish a personality to the game and the characters do have a good sense of humour. Also, words alone cannot fully explain how incredibly good the soundtrack is in this game. Your ears will constantly be filled with gleeful techno beats that never become tedious and it suits the cyberpunk atmosphere just perfectly.

Frozen Synapse is one of the coolest strategy games i have played in a long time. It's so sophisticated and meticulously well designed that even the biggest strategy enthusiast will be impressed. So go ahead and pay the price to experience this awesome, awesome game--it will be worth your time and money and some of the previously mentioned gripes probably won't ruin your fun.
  

2 Comments
Posted by Little_Socrates

An excellent review. If I weren't the world's WORST strategy game player, I would be all over this. Even still, I might pick it up.

Posted by Popskinz
@Little_Socrates
 
Thanks a lot! You should!

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