Frozen Synapse was a title that was pretty successful in its right, but I feel flew under the radar for a lot of people. That’s a damn shame, too, because it was a great title. The idea was that you’d guide squads of soldiers though tactical situations and give them sets of instructions. After giving your soldiers instructions, you could test how things would play out to see if your instructions would lead to victory or total death. You could also click on enemy units to see how they’d react.
Your opponent would essentially do the same, meaning you were playing asynchronously (in multiplayer you could set up your instructions and then notify your opponent when you were ready). The game could quickly become tricky, as you’d have to work out what your enemy was most liable to do and act accordingly. The whole experience felt pretty smooth thanks to the minimal neon graphics and the awesomely intense thumping electronica soundtrack.
Welp, it’s been about a decade and now we have Frozen Synapse 2. It’s a bit of a challenge to review Frozen Synapse 2 for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s been a really long time since the first one, so I don’t recall enough about its gameplay (I ended up jumping in and playing a few rounds to jog my memory). Second of all, Frozen Synapse 2’s core gameplay doesn’t feel all that different.
I say ‘core’ gameplay because as a sequel, Frozen Synapse 2 doesn’t really change the main mechanics all that much. The main change, really, is the addition of the new singleplayer mode, which is essentially a campaign in which you take control of this big procedurally-generated city.
The new mode is…a bit complicated at first, but surprisingly intuitive. At its core, you gain control of the city by managing resources and by occasionally engaging in combat with rival factions. There’s a story but I barely managed to cobble it together, and it’s just loaded with jargon and references to the first game. What I managed to grasp is that there was some kind of catastrophe and in the wake of it, the city of Markov Geist has some manner of provisional or interim government. You work with other factions to maintain some sort of order.
There’s a tutorial that walks you through the main details of it, and eventually, you get most of it down. It’s actually a nice addition to the old game in that it adds a sense of structure to the squad combat. You hire new squad members and you allow dead ones to regenerate in between missions. Oh yeah, apparently in Frozen Synapse the soldiers are some manner of animated biomaterial. I honestly never looked into any of the lore in the first Frozen Synapse, so I did feel like the city mode fleshed out the world a bit more, which is nice.
On the whole, though it felt…unnecessary. In general Frozen Synapse 2 doesn’t have a lot to do because Frozen Synapse already did so much right. There are additions to the core gameplay obviously, and they’re more than welcome. AI is now much more responsive, which is great for me because every time I play multiplayer I get creamed in minutes. There are also new units available, which helps round things out considerably and give your squad a lot more tactical variety. Also, levels are bigger and more varied in terms of a structure now.
On the whole, however, the real meat and bones of Frozen Synapse 2 is its city mode. It’s an idea that doesn’t necessarily add much to the core gameplay, but it does serve as a nice framing device for the game. And in any event, it’s another helping of Frozen Synapse, which is more than welcome.
Frozen Synapse 2 was reviewed using a PC downloadable code of the game provided by Mode 7. The game was tested on a machine 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 (click here for more information about our review policy).
• Same classic Frozen Synapse gameplay
• Some new classes added in
• AI feels more responsive
• Some good ideas in city mode
• City mode feels underdeveloped
• The story is difficult to follow