Prepare to embark on a mind-bending journey with Synapse, the latest release from nDreams, a U.K.-based developer known for pushing the boundaries of emerging technologies. With a history that spans work ahead of its time PlayStation Home, nDreams once again proves its prowess with this captivating VR experience.
Led by the exceptional voice talents of David Hayter and Jennifer Hale, Synapse weaves a narrative that captivates and challenges. You step into the shoes of Colonel Peter Conrad, a former agent of organization Bureau V, who has decided to go picaro and wants to trigger Armageddon. Your mission is to venture into Conrad’s mind, unravel the mysteries within, and prevent the launch of a devastating biological weapon.
Synapse Is PSVR 2 Must Own
The heart of Synapse lies in its captivating campaign, which revolves around three progressively challenging playthroughs called Memories. From the surface to the depths of Conrad’s consciousness, you’ll explore the story’s intricate layers and face escalating gameplay challenges.
Each difficulty level features eight zones, with a ninth ‘end’ zone awaiting your arrival. While the zones can be shuffled procedurally within the conscious, preconscious, and subconscious stages, the objective remains the same: battle against a specific number of enemies in each zone before advancing.
As you delve into each stage, a sense of intrigue surrounds mastering the verticality, predicting enemy spawn points, and completing zones swiftly for better rankings. With four distinct weapon types, varied enemy encounters, and randomized modifiers called Mind Hacks at the end of a zone, with the choice to select two before continuing forward. You can select from additional damage or vampirism to exploding enemies on their death. Synapse offers a playground of possibilities. Will you unleash fiery havoc through telekinetic powers or opt for critical-only headshots with your handgun?
A Tour de Force
The strength of Synapse lies in its moment-to-moment gameplay. You become an unstoppable force once you grasp the mechanics and unlock abilities through skill trees. In-run challenges called Revelations push you to eliminate enemies, use specific weapons, or complete runs in a particular way. Successfully completing these challenges earns you Insight, a valuable currency that can be used to upgrade abilities across three skill paths: Tactician, Assassin, and Survivor. These upgrades enhance your telekinesis ability, weapon effectiveness, and overall survivability.
Impressively, each upgrade significantly impacts your success. As you progress and unlock these enhancements, your confidence soars and your speed in completing zones increases exponentially. Take, for instance, the Brutal Mind upgrade under the Tactician path. With this enhancement, you can directly manipulate enemies using telekinesis, effortlessly hurling them into walls, other adversaries, or even off-cliff edges.
The main draw is the telekinetic abilities you’ll encounter in Synapse. Using the eye-tracking technology the PSVR 2 offers, you can look at an object and watch the magic unfold before you. When you pair the shooting mechanics with your psionic abilities, the insanity ramps up and is brilliant.
Despite its many strengths, Synapse does face certain limitations. After a few runs, the lack of variety becomes noticeable. The stages remain unchanged, and you soon become intimately familiar with every twist, turn, and enemy spawn point. With only four weapons at your disposal, the arsenal feels somewhat restricted. However, the most significant factor contributing to this limitation is the lack of special perks and upgrades.
Synapse feels somewhat light regarding roguelite elements, as the content becomes exhausting after just a few hours of play. While not every VR game needs the infinite replayability of titles like Hadesor Returnal, additional depth would undoubtedly enhance the experience. Perhaps future DLC will expand the pool of options, breathing new life into the game.
Furthermore, acquiring new permanent upgrades outside of runs can feel somewhat restrictive. Completing a set of challenges earns you upgrade points that can be used to enhance your health, improve store items, or strengthen your eye-tracking powers. However, these challenges often require you to adopt a specific playstyle, making it difficult to acquire the remaining upgrade points. While this may encourage experimentation, it can also disrupt a well-honed strategy, forcing players to merely deviate from their preferred style to complete a particular challenge.
As a final point regarding the limitations of Synapse, it’s worth mentioning the absence of a minor gameplay mode for bite-sized experiences. A typical run can take 40-60 minutes, making committing to another attempt immediately after a defeat challenging. Including a combat arena or primary survival mode that allows players to engage in shorter sessions would provide an ideal way to keep players engaged beyond the primary campaign. In total, you can expect to spend nearly 15-20 hours to get the whole experience.
Synapse showcases the power of the mind, delivering an immersive VR experience that challenges your skills and intellect. The captivating narrative and engaging moment-to-moment gameplay ensure an unforgettable journey through Colonel Conrad’s consciousness. While the game has limitations regarding variety and replayability, its strengths, including the skill progression system and thrilling combat, outweigh these shortcomings. Prepare to unleash your telekinetic powers, unlock the secrets within, and embrace the extraordinary world of Synapse.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Synapse showcases the power of the mind, delivering an immersive VR experience that challenges your skills and intellect.
The mix of telekinetic powers and guns pair like a fine wine and cheese
Impressive use of the PS VR2's technology
Stellar cast and perfomances with a matching soundtrack to boot