Desync is a single-player arcade shooter set in a neon-soaked Tron-esque world. In this strange polygonal world, you’re tasked with taking down hordes of various monsters. However, the game encourages you to kill the monsters in unique and stylish ways, so you need to switch things up as much as possible.
Desync offers you point scores based on how innovative your approach to murder is, but for the most part the game doesn’t offer you all that much to be stylish with. There are only a handful of fairly vanilla weapons (albeit with a futuristic twist), and aside from shooting all you can do is move around and dash. So, the game essentially assigns you point scores based on how often you dodge, switch weapons, and insta-kill enemies; you know, stuff you’d already do in a shooter. It does present you with various environmental hazards with which to kill the enemies, but these have varying levels of success. You can blast monsters onto spiked walls and off ledges, but I found this to be inconsistent, as a lot of the enemies would simply stand their ground after taking a shotgun blast or even a grenade. You can also activate traps that fire blasts and time it so the enemies are the ones in the crossfire, but this proves to be a bit tricky as well. For the most part, you’ll find yourself devolving into good-old fashioned run and gun, which is fine.
Desync manages a respectable array of enemies with their own variety of attacks, so you find yourself having to stay on your toes as you take on wave after wave in different rooms. Additionally, Desync does not follow the indie tradition of being procedurally generated, so you deal with carefully scripted waves of enemies, allowing you to learn from your mistakes in a near-endless cycle of trial and error. However, Desync did pull the ol’ ‘Make the game stupid hard’ page from the indie game playbook, and it uses it selectively. One of the main issues you’ll deal with in the game is ammo. I swear, survival horror games are more generous with the ammo than Desync is. Now, while this isn’t a problem in the levels, boss fights are a whole other issue. In the boss fights, I’d always end up using up all my ammo and then I’d just end up whittling down the health bar on the boss with feeble shots from my pistol. I know you want us to be stylish guys, but we’d have a much easier time if you didn’t take away all our ammo.
I’m not even sure when I get ammo, as enemies drop various glowing orbs when they die. I’ve worked out that the green ones are health, but I have no idea what the others are. That’s another issue with Desync: it commits to its role way too much. Instead of a vanilla in-game interface, you have this whole idea of ‘syncing’ and ‘terminals’. This kind of turns into a problem when you start trying to upgrade your gear, as you have to decipher the game’s jargon and work out how the upgrade system works. Hell, when it comes to entering levels, you don’t simply start, you ‘intrude’. This commitment to making us feel like we’re playing a videogame while we’re playing a damn videogame feels excessive at times.
The game could have definitely made some improvements here and there, like adding a double jump feature maybe, but on the whole these are small gripes with what is, by and large, a really solid indie shooter that forces you to give your all.
DESYNC was reviewed using a PC downloadable code of the game provided by Adult Swim Games. The game was tested on a PC running Windows 10, with an 8GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1070 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 16GB of RAM. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Variety of monsters and enemies
• Smooth shooting action
• Incredible soundtrack
• Stylish neon world
• Difficulty spikes in boss fights
• Style system feels unnecessary
• Ammo is constantly being depleted
• Motion feels like it could have been smoother