SYNTHETIK the brainchild and debut game for Germany-based two-man dev team Flow Fire Games. It's an unforgiving, fast-paced shooter that emphasizes on gun-handling on top of its rogue-lite elements. The game boasts a deep emphasis on situational awareness and gun handling, making the game not about how big your gun is, but how well you use it.
SYNTHETIK is available now on Steam.
The game is a top-down shooter that incorporates some tried and tested rogue-lite elements. Players fight from floor to floor in The Citadels ever-changing procedurally generated areas. You have but one life, so dying means starting over. With every new attempt, The Citadel's layout changes. So progress is more about mastering your technique than it is about mastering the levels.
And master technique you must as SYNTHETIK brings new depth to the whole top-down shooter formula. The game emphasizes greatly on gun handling. Responsive movement and recoil management are key. Standing still makes your aim steady, but also makes you an easy target. Movement diminishes your aim, and firing your gun with reckless abandon will cause it to overheat, making it perform very poorly, diminish your shield, and cause a considerable amount of damage to your avatar. Also, you don't just have to reload your gun manually, you'll have to eject the magazine manually too! Any ammo left in the magazine before ejecting is lost with it.Oh, and did I forget to mention that your gun could jam at any moment, adding an extra layer of unpredictability to an already deep weapon management system?
Nearly all weapon types can switch between different ammo types, each with its own unique effects such as armor piercing, acid, bleeding hollow point, stunning soft point bullets and many more. These ammo types could almost completely change the effectiveness of your weapons in any given situation. Switching to armor piercing rounds when faced with shielded infantry can make quick work of them, whilst using acid rounds on enemies you can't go toe to toe with makes hit and run an effective tactic. These ammo types already bring intresting depth to the game even before you switch weapons, and there are alot of weapons.
Beyond the impressive collection of ammo types lies an even more impressive collection of weapons, sporting over 60 different weapons, each with 20 possible variants just aching to be found. These variants could either slightly, or drastically alter the weapon's stats or even produce special effects.
Don't you, for a second, think that this is where weapon variety ends. Each weapon can be outfitted with up to four of 20+ possible attachments too, adding even more versatility to any and all weapons. Besides guns, you also gain access to dozens of items from traps to support types, and utility to offensive types, all of which, can be upgraded.
Yes, you start over when you die, but all is not lost when you do. You accumulate experience points after every attempt, allowing you to gain levels and improve any of the available classes, all of which cater to a particular playstyle. You also earn Data, which is used to purchase items and modifiers that you can set and equip in your loadout before starting a new game.
All these elements add up nicely to create an incredibly replayable experience. No two runs are ever the same. Expect to fail often as SYNTHETIK wasn't meant to be beaten in one go (As is pretty much true for any rogue-like/rogue-lite). Add in co-op multiplayer and you open up a whole new can of replayability. The possibilities start to feel really endless when you factor in another player.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO
Despite the impressive depth of its gunplay, it was the visual style that really drove me into SYNTHETIK. The hi-res sprites, neat colors, and vector-esque style perfectly complements the retro-futuristic theme the game is rollin' with. Couldn't shake the Robocop/Terminator vibe while playing SYNTHETIK, not that I even wanted to. The UI and in-game effects are quite stylish, too. The colors are all stylishly flat and clean, but it does make it hard to spot collectibles and items. Sometimes, there are situations where the game
The soundtrack also helps build the whole retro feel, though, in terms of audio, I'd give it more credit towards SFX as they're not just crisp but also informative.
In the oversaturated scene of top-down roguelikes, SYNTHETIK brings something fresh to the table with its unique emphasis on deep gun handling mechanics, boasting incredible aesthetics that succeeds in delivering a fully realized retro-futuristic theme. There's some serious depth in SYNTHETIK, and an even deeper replay value all thanks to its impressive arsenal of weapons and the ability to fine-tune the game's difficulty to your liking. Add in the co-op play and its cheap price point and you've got yourself a quality game, so long as the steep difficulty does not bother you.
|+ Slick visual style||– No dedicated story|
|+ Fresh and unique take on gunplay|
|+ Impressive replayability|