Frozen Synapse: A Dystopian, Cyberpunk Strategy Game

Frozen Synapse is a game of squad vs. squad combat with your tactical decisions being the only thing between victory and defeat.

Ever since I picked up Frozen Synapse on Steam a couple weeks ago, it has had me locked in its claws. A good portion of my gaming time has been dedicated to Frozen Synapse recently. But what makes it so good?

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Plot

In Frozen Synapse, you play a “tactic”, a person who gives commands to cloned soldiers in combat situations. You are working with a rebel group in the city of Markov Geist (the most cyberpunk name for anything ever).

In the single player campaign, you will be sent on various missions, requiring you to either eliminate all enemies, defend a position, or protect a VIP, among other objectives. In multiplayer, you will pit your skill at commanding a unit against an opponent. 

Presentation

Frozen Synapse has a very minimalistic art style. The soldiers are human shaped masses of neon light (green for you, red for your opponent, and yellow for allies), walls are blue blocks, and that is pretty much everything you’ll see in a game of Frozen Synapse.

I’m actually pretty thankful for the minimalistic approach the developers, Mode 7, took with the art style. The visuals are very clear for what they are. I know where my guys are and I know where the enemies are, even in the middle of explosions and firefights. I know which walls I can hide behind and which walls I can fire over. It doesn’t distract from the star of the game, the gameplay.

The soundtrack is pretty much all electronic music by an artist known as nervous_testpilot. The music is appropriate and sets the mood for the game well.

Gameplay

Frozen Synapse‘s gameplay is simple but with many layers of depth.

At a basic level, your job is to give orders to your soldiers so you can eliminate the enemy’s soldiers. You set waypoints for your soldiers to run to, tell them when to aim and in what direction, to ignore an enemy on site or keep running, and many other commands. You can test your plan to see how your soldiers will move and what fights they will win or lose. You can also give orders to the enemy soldiers to test your plan more thoroughly. Once you are ready, you lock in your plan, the computer makes its moves, and you watch the outcome.

If you should fail your objective, you can try again, but you will not be able to use your previous knowledge of the map against the AI. Each map is procedurally generated, making no two attempts at a single mission the same.

The weapons are also very easy to understand. Shotguns are good for hallways and going around corners, assault rifles are good at mid-range, and sniper rifles are good at long range. It’s kind of like rock-paper-scissors in that regard. There are also grenades that can be lobbed into a room and rocket launchers that can destroy walls.

Conclusions

Frozen Synapse is not a very easy game. The AI is very good at what it does and will not go easy on you. That said, I don’t think the game is unfair. As long as you keep in mind what each weapon is good at and make sure you test your plans thoroughly, you should manage to win against the computer. The multiplayer is really fun and offers a bunch of options. You can play a quick game against another person, but you can also play by email (you’ll receive an email notifying you that it is your turn to make a move).

The procedurally generated level design makes each combat unique, adding to the replayability factor. Frozen Synapse also gives me “one-more-turn-syndrome”. It is incredibly hard to just stop when I’ve lost (unless I’ve lost 6 times in a row or so). I just want to jump back in and give it another shot. 

If you aren’t a big fan of strategy games, AI that will beat your face in if you don’t think about your turn carefully, or are easily frustrated, I wouldn’t touch this game. If you are a fan of strategy games and want a well fleshed out, turn based, squad strategy game, give it a shot. On Steam, Frozen Synapse comes with two copies, so give one to a friend. Frozen Synapse is available on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux. It is also available for iOS and Android.

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Frozen Synapse: A Dystopian, Cyberpunk Strategy Game
Frozen Synapse is a game of squad vs. squad combat with your tactical decisions being the only thing between victory and defeat.

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Author
Image of Dallas Ward
Dallas Ward
I am a simple man with simple dreams. I one day wish to play all of my steam games. Yo videogames!