Synthetik, a general overview

It is these days the news that Flow Fire is about to publish a sequel to Synthetik, type shooter twin-stick shooter with rogue-lite structure came out for PC some time ago. Given the particularity of the first title, both from a conceptual point of view and for how it was managed, it is worth making a brief overview of this game to understand a little better what it consists of and maybe take the opportunity to recover it. Currently is 75% off on Steam and will remain so until April 19 2021.

Synthetik: a bit of history

In 2018 Flow Fire, an independent video game studio based in Berlin, published synthetic. It is a twin-stick shooter in a futuristic setting with quite peculiar characteristics to distinguish it from the large mass of rogue-lite titles that increasingly crowd the indie scene.

The part the somewhat particular characteristics of its concept, Synthetik also emerged for the important post-launch care which he received, since he enriched himself with an expanded version (by title: Synthetik: Legion Rising, which is in fact an update of the base game), an "Ultimate" version including improvements and additions and with a free "spin-off", entitled Synthetik: Arena.

The latter abdicates the rogue-lite structure at procedural levels to propose some fixed modes (like Survival) that they exploit the same gameplay. Even for this reworking, however, it has been introduced a "Premium" version (for a fee) which introduces more content on this special mode.

This special will focus on a quick review of both publications, trying to understand too what can we expect from the new episode, which will enter Early Access this summer.

Humans versus machines

The story of synthetic it is banalotta, but it tells just enough to justify the context. In a future where humanity begins to delegate more and more tasks to machines, the five artificial intelligences the world's most powerful become aware and unite to build an army of automatons capable of crushing mankind.

Human resistance relies on a hybrid prototype of cybernetic android to avoid the catastrophe and stop the mad cars. And that's more than enough to create the pretext for an endless series of shootings, but with a LOT of "no holds barred". The meaning of this statement will be clear soon, when they are highlighted the mechanical details di Synthetik: Legion Rising.

Hunting for robots in the maze

The soul of the game is that of a twin-stick shooter with 2D view offering procedural levels (therefore generated in a different way for each game) in which it is necessary, essentially, make your way through the rebel cars and look for the exit. Along the way it is possible to collect new weapons (you can bring up to three primary and one secondary), upgrades, credits e give (which are useful for "research" between games).

As in many titles rogue-lite of this type, it will be up to the player to decide if to take the exit immediately after finding it o try to "search" the entire levels, risking damage but with the tempting prospect of finding weapons, gadgets or even items that can be stored from one batch to another, thus making subsequent iterations easier.

Automata are of many types: from those anthropomorphic in nature, who look like soldiers with weapons, grenades and riot shields surveillance robot floating in midair, passing through the missile turrets and those able to send attack drones to chase the protagonist even around corners and at a great distance.

"Uncomfortable" shootings...

One of the most unique features of Synthetik: Legion Rising resides in the dynamics of the shootings. For starters, it's a game in which weapon diversification and accuracy have a fundamental role. By standing still, you can aim and deliver targeted shots to the head or other vulnerable parts of the enemy, dealing significantly more damage; obviously, however, there is more exposure at the risk of being hit. The aiming system is intelligently organized and makes all the weapons in the game useful.

Even the reload is at least particular: as if you were handling a real weapon, the old magazine must first be ejected (giving up all the bullets it still contains) and then reload, with a dynamic of "active recharge" very similar to that of Gears of War. Since ammunition is limited, this will dictate a relatively "tactical" approach to shootings that are nonetheless fast and frenetic, creating a mix with a unique flavor in the indie rogue-lite scene. To complicate matters further, weapons can jam (and require several "old-fashioned hits" to get back into operation) or overheat if you subject them to excessive use.

Being hit involves a demolition of the shield and, in case this runs out, of health. Are available different gadgets to heal, upgrade equipment, reload ammunition or have other effects, but also these they will have to be activated manually and only with mild access to a "shortcut".

… And their why

All these choices in favor of an “easy and fluid” gameplay serve just to give the player a sense of perpetual tension. To force him to study enemies before engaging them. Or a think quickly about the choices to make even in the short time and the excitement of a battle.

At the beginning it can seem frustrating, especially to those who come from other games with a faster and "immediate" flavor (such as Enter the Gungeon); however, once the mechanism is mastered, it is rewarding defeat opponents with precise headshots, low recoil weapons or flanking tactics.

A variegated rogue-lite

To add complexity and variety, the game provides numerous classes to choose your specialization from: the sniper, for example, specializes in long range weapons and  specific gadgets for quick and silent kills; the engineer has a support drone and can build turrets attacking enemies while he seeks cover or picks up items; and the demolition Man uses powerful explosives to sweep away any resistance in its path.

Between one game and another it is possible to carry out a "search" for new projects using a special collected currency, the data. This will unlock new drop possibilities for subsequent games, increasing the range of opportunities for improvements among which the upgrades and items will be randomly extracted in the upcoming runs (a well-proven dynamic in rogue-lite, similar to what happens, for example, Neon Chrome).

Synthetik: Arena

The game was supported with numerous post-launch content. Of these, the most interesting is certainly Synthetik: Arena, a free "spin-off" in which the dynamics of combat, aiming and reloading of weapons remain unchanged: however, the procedurally generated consecutive level structure is abandoned in favor of alternative methods.

Rather than setting his shootings in randomly generated levels, with boss battles from time to time, Sand provides a series of wave fights with five different game modes.

We must defend a goal from enemies, hunt down high profile targets around a large map, search cash reserves to achieve upgrades or resist as long as possible (like in a real Survival mode).

Compared to the main game, everything appears a little less random and more controllable, but the game's salient features are all still there. There are still diversified classes with unlockable talents, a plethora of editable weapons e an endless swarm of robots from electronic voices to shoot at. Especially appreciable in a cooperative, Synthetik: Arena is an excellent opportunity to touch the original gameplay of the series.

Synthetik 2

A few days ago Flow Fire announced that a sequel for Synthetik is on the way. The new episode will point to maintain the strong identity that characterized and differentiated its predecessor from the crowd, but enhancing all aspects.

Consequently it is reasonable to expect a combat with a tactical flavor and with a high degree of challenge (bordering on punitive). The game, however, will benefit from full 3D graphics e will expand all mechanics which have already made varied and original Legion Rising.

For example, it will come updated and expanded the existing class system. And there will also be to be expected too a strong characterization of weapons and gadgets, whose variety often represents the soul of a rogue-lite game because it nourishes the sense of discovery and “persistence” between one game and another, even if you start from scratch every time you die.

The new episode will also introduce some factions, characterizing and diversifying even better the enemies, their armaments and basting new challenges based on this characterization. A very important aspect of Synthetik 2 it is also that it will include a cooperative mode for up to 4 players and support to custom mods.

Synthetik on Steam

For who played the first title and he appreciated it, these are definitely announcements of great interest. Curiosity can be partially sated this summer, when Synthetik 2 will come in Early Access su Steam.

Those who were not in the least aware of the existence of this series e wanted to try the first episode, he still has available three days (until April 19) for buy it on Steam with a 75% discount. From December of the 2020 the “Ultimate” version of Synthetik: Legion Rising. The latter contains an in-depth story, revisions and balances to the initial gameplay and additional content.

Synthetik 2 has already a Steam page, from which it can be put in wishlist.

Stay tuned for further updates on the development of this original project.

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