Distorted synths wail and chime as pulsing, angular enemies fall to a discordant beat. I frantically dodge backwards from a dozen small, goblin like creatures with glowing red swords, stringing together a few glittering skill shots before backing up into a larger enemy who squashes me into the ground effortlessly, punishment for my lack of situational awareness. Without missing a step I’m thrown back in. Do better next time, the game demands, silently.
DESYNC is Superhot by the way of Far Cry: Blood Dragon. It’s hard to explain it without using comparisons, yet at the same time, so utterly incomparable. There are similar games, sure, but few so confident and direct in their delivery. It both entices and pisses me off in massive ways, TRON on crack cocaine, ignoring my failures and recognising every scraped victory with little more than a burst of points for a tally and, of course, a new gun. Before long you’re juggling weapons and darting between enemy hordes like a pro, but the road to get there is painful. It takes a little while to get into the groove, and as you grind your way through the opening level with weapons that feel slightly more useful than a coffee mug made out of chocolate it’s easy to get bored of backpedaling. There’s a fine line between challenging and just boring, and DESYNC can feel a little bit too much like the latter sometimes. But when it works, it works – my mouse clicking fingers still ache.
Hammering left shift like no tomorrow, you dodge enemy attacks whilst retaliating with an expanding arsenal of glowing assault weaponry. AGGRESSOR, the game declares as you dodge towards an enemy and rip them to shreds with a shotgun blast. OBLITHERATED, the silent cry rings out, as you pile way more bullets into someone than was strictly necessary. It’s a breadcrumb trail of rewards that keeps you coming back and repeating encounters to try and just get them done in a slightly cooler way. At first, you’ll be backing into walls, corners, and traps more than anything else, but eventually, you git gud, and the whole glaring neon nightmare starts to make a bit more sense.
DESYNC’s visuals are awesome. I love the retro vibe, but at times, it lays it on a bit thick. The simulated scan lines and distortion intended to replicate the feeling of being glued to a CRT screen for hours on end (I for one did enough of that in my young life) can be nauseating. Paired with repetitive backing music, it turns the frenetic skill shooter into an experience akin to running through an 80’s arcade on a bad batch of MDMA. Not that I know what that feels like or anything. A lot of the time it seems as though DESYNC is pumping so much visual noise into your face to disguise the fact that it doesn’t really have a heart, or any kind of USP except for “Ooh look at all the washed out neon”. As a game, it’s functional and enjoyable, but as an overall experience, the arena shooter struggles to captivate. It’s likely that the only thing you’ll remember it for in the long run is a chronic migraine.
- Solid arena shooting gameplay and pulsing 80’s neon make a good combination. Bring sunglasses.
- I now have repetitive strain injury.
- Core gameplay is enjoyable and solid but past the initial burst the game suffers from a major lack of charm.