Desync -- A Love/Hate Relationship Covered in Neon
From the video above I was sure that Desync was going to be a great game. With its Tron-like neon scheme and industrial electronic audio, I was pretty excited to see what it had to offer. Which is why I was disappointed when I finally made the time to sit down and play.
"How do we make the game look like it's retro?" I assume designer A said to B. "We could add scanlines and texture artifacts to everything and, if they didn't have epilepsy before, they will now!"
Desync is going for this simulation feel -- like you're inside of some sort of computer program, but the program is bugging out. Now, I do want to point out that they did put an epilepsy warning screen in the game before the title screen. I myself am not epileptic but I found myself feeling nauseated after an hour of gameplay, which is a first for me.
Objects in the game just spazz out -- shifting colors, flickering, the constant scanlines like old CRT monitors, and pulsing weapon blasts create a chaotic display that is just hard to look at.
So visuals aside, how does the game play? Well, that's another sore point for me. The shooting mechanics are pretty simple -- primary fire on the left mouse click, secondary on right mouse click. But then you add in the enemies and it becomes chaotic and not in a good way.
Enemies will spawn in all over the place -- most of the time it's behind you when your attention is already on something else. There is a dash mechanic which has a relatively short refresh loop but the enemies have a pretty aimbot feel to them. They know exactly where you are at all times and the big brute types with the massive hammer constantly come flying at you from out of the sky with this hammer smash attack that is just frustrating until you figure out the spawn order of the room.
Health and ammo are also kind of scarce unless you're killing the enemies with this rather strange and confusing combo system that's in place. I don't understand it, like, at all. I shoot one enemy in the face and I get one type of combo. Do the same stuff to a different enemy, different combo.
One of the big factors of this game is the combo system. You do specific actions in a specific sequence and you rack up tons of points. Also, this is the best way to get health and ammo drops, which you'll constantly be in need of. I've noticed that doing more complicated combos, however, doesn't necessarily mean bigger points. In fact, the differences are actually pretty small and it makes the overall system just feel clunky and rather pointless.
Another gripe would be the enemies themselves. They don't really have much life to them or anything that makes them feel interesting. It's basically just different size/color polygonal figures that come rushing at you with different attacks. After awhile it just felt mindless.
Despite all of the shortcomings, there is some fun to be had in Desync. The dodging mechanics are rather fun in the heat of battle and I found myself doing it to the beat of the music which was enjoyable. I personally really dig the soundtrack of the game which I feel is really important for a title like this where there is so much going on at once and the music matches the frantic pace of the game. There is also the leaderboard aspect as well. I mean, who wouldn't like to see their name in that #1 spot?
There is nothing really special about Desync that makes it stand out. The gameplay and mechanics are simple but lacking, and there is an overall feeling of samey play to it. At the full price of $14.99 I couldn't recommend the game, but if it was on sale it might be worth getting. It's an average example of the FPS genre.
If you're still interested in playing the game you can find it on the Steam Store.
Note: A copy of Desync was provided by the developer for this review.