DESYNC
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 9

Assault your eyes, ears, and self-confidence with this ultra-challenging first-person shooter by The Foregone Syndicate. Desync is an all-out action fest that doesn’t believe in hand-holding or pulling punches. This can make it an extremely frustrating game, but also very satisfying when you master the skills required to stand a chance. The visuals are stylish but blinding, while the music is outstanding. If you prefer playing your shooters on the easiest setting or are easily frustrated, this is probably not the game for you, but if you want to really test your skills, this is the game to get.

Gameplay: Desync is fast, frantic, and very unforgiving.

Graphics: The Tron-style visuals are stylish but a little headache-inducing after a while.

Sound: The sound effects lack a little punch, but the music is excellent

Summary 8.0 Great
Gameplay 0
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Summary 0.0 Terrible

DESYNC

Developer: The Foregone Syndicate | Publisher: Adult Swim Games | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: First Person Shooter / Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Exiting Desync after playing for a couple of hours is quite an experience. For a few minutes afterward, everything else looks dull and washed out as your eyes struggle to adjust to reality again. This first-person shooter from The Foregone Syndicate is not the first to arrive awash in neon aesthetics, but it is definitely one that has fully committed to this style. From the minute you boot up the game to the point when you inevitably rage-quit after getting decimated for the umpteenth time, it is an all-out assault on your senses. Some players will relish the intensity and challenge, but we have a feeling that many will also walk away feeling very frustrated.

Usually, first-person shooters fall into two camps. Some are multi-player oriented and have a short single-player story campaign tacked on, and in others, the story mode got all the attention, and the multi-player feels like an afterthought. Desync, on the other hand, presents players with a single-player-only experience but without any story. Instead, you are thrown headlong into a digital otherworld where death comes swiftly and frequently. If you are used to coasting through games on tourist mode (Easy difficulty setting), then Desync is going to be a bit of a sucker punch. The game is utterly uncompromising, and even the earliest enemies can make mincemeat out of you if you are not careful. According to the developers, Desync was designed to truly test the limits of your FPS abilities, which is definitely true. Unfortunately, it also turns into a test of your patience at times, especially when you are still struggling to come to grips with the various quirks of the game.

Although Desync is a first-person shooter, it is not a mindless blaster, and employing the usual run-and-gun tactics will probably get you killed very quickly. Enemies are not only quite fast but brutal as well, while ammo and health are very limited. This means that you have to make each and every shot count. Levels are also made up of a series of rooms, which you must clear one by one to progress. These rooms are typically quite small and littered with traps, such as wall spikes and pits, further adding to your woes. The traps are handy for creatively disposing of enemies, but more often than not, it will be you who end up skewered by a spike as you back-peddle desperately while trying to evade a giant hammer-wielding foe. If you get killed, it is back to the start of the room to try again, which also impacts your score.

Instead of spraying bullets in the general direction of your enemies, you must perform attack sequences. These special moves deal extra damage to foes and reward you with bonus effects. These moves can be as simple as knocking an enemy into a trap or stunning them and then killing them before they can recover to more advanced moves, such as launching an enemy into the air before landing the kill shot. Mastering these attack sequences is the key to doing well in the game, along with Overkills, which is bursting enemies into pieces by doing large amounts of damage to them. Since Overkilled enemies drop health, you must crush your foes whenever possible to reap the rewards.

Unfortunately, until you master these techniques, you will probably be the one who ends up getting crushed most of the time. Desync doesn’t have any difficulty settings, so you either have to get good or end up feeling very frustrated. It doesn’t help that the game is quite confusing at first, as you have to deal with things like cores and shards, which could have been explained a little better. Enemies also have a tendency to spawn behind you with little warning, which means some levels require memorization if you want any hope of completing it with a high rank. Thankfully, the developers have adjusted many of the enemy spawns in subsequent updates to the game. Because you are confined to small, trap-filled rooms, the levels can also start to feel very cramped, especially if you are more of a defensive than an offensive player. However, if you are truly skilled and want an even bigger challenge, you can take on levels in an inverted form with the so-called Dark Zones, which is played without your custom weapons and gear.

Visually, Desync is a bit of a mixed bag. While we love the neon look of the game, there is no denying that, at times, it does feel like you are playing on a malfunctioning CGA monitor. The scanlines and visual glitches are intentional and part of the style of the game, but they definitely impact visibility. This is also one of the few games where the epilepsy warning at the start is fully justified. The game does have a field-of-view slider, which helped us a lot, but playing for extended periods does put a severe strain on your eyes. The audio perfectly matches the glowing visuals and is just as loud and aggressive. It is not an exaggeration to say that a few times, the great music was the only thing that prevented us from rage-quitting after a particularly brutal defeat. Sound effects are a bit underwhelming in comparison, but the music is so good that we recommend getting the soundtrack. The game received a few patches after release, improving sound effects. The controls are standard first-person shooter fare but involve a couple more key presses to master certain skills, such as dodging or using your secondary weapons. The controls can also feel somewhat sluggish until you figure out how to dodge consistently, and jumping could also use a little more work.

At the end of the day, your enjoyment of Desync will depend very much on your tolerance for frustration and your ability to adapt. It is a game that requires total concentration, and you can’t let your guard down for a minute. While this is very demanding, it is much better than strolling down endless gray corridors or sitting back and watching a scripted event every five minutes. The only time you can take a breather in Desync is when you walk around the “Link Network,” where you can initialize upgrades and select your sidearms. It is also here where you can imbue your attack sequences with “Desyncs” in order to counter enemies that are synced and thus more dangerous.

Although the game doesn’t feature any story and progress is linear, you can return to previous levels and attempt them again for better ratings. Each level also has its own leaderboards, but some type of multi-player mode would have considerably boosted the replay value. While we had a lot of fun with Desync, there were also times of extreme frustration. Sometimes, you can feel like you have hit a wall when encountering a “Zone Defender” or particularly challenging room, but it is worth pushing through. Thankfully, the difficulty of Zone Defenders was slightly lowered since this review was initially published, and they now also drop more Weapon Energy. It is really a pity that there isn’t a demo available of Desync as it is really one of those love-it-or-hate-it types of games, and until you’ve sat down and played it, it can be difficult to know which side of the fence you are going to be on. If you feel like first-person shooters have been getting too forgiving lately, then you’ll definitely want to play Desync to really test your skills.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Dual Core 2.4 Ghz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM

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