Today's review is on Frozen Synapse, a new game by Mode7, an indie game developer comprised of three people in the UK. Their previous game, Determinance was a third person, multiplayer, sword-fighting game. Frozen Synapse is almost completely different, the only similarities being that it's third person, and it's a game. (I haven't played Determinance (windows only), but that's what I got from what I've seen)
You assume the role of Tactics, a Shapeform. Your job (as indicated by your name) is to be a tactician. The Shape is basically a digital overlay of the "physical" world (in-game). The being that reside in the Shape are called Shapeforms. Most of the time, Shapeforms are usually named by their job or attribute (e.g. sniper, for someone using a sniper rifle), but you also meet some that aren't, like Belaqua.
In the campaign, you are recruited by an organization called Petrov's shard to help them bring down Enyo:Nomad, a super-corporation that is in control of a city called Markov Geist. I haven't played much of this yet, but what I have played is amazing. The levels are randomly generated, and if you lose on a mission, the map is regenerated for a new playing field, making your skill the only thing that actually matters, instead of, say, memorizing the map. My advice: READ EVERYTHING!!! This will give the game form and reason. It's not too much to read, but it increases your game experience immensely. Also, I reccomend playing at least some of the campaign first, for the above reasons.
The multiplayer integration is nearly flawless, but I would like to see some more integrated UI instructions. Things like: there is a small circle on the bottom left, but it never tells you that it's there and you have to mouse over it to find out what it's for. However, the game is still in beta and feels like a complete game with some add-ons, so I can't really complain. The gameplay is actually turn based, so it can effectively be "played by email," which is nice for those who have no time...
The gameplay is unlike any other game I have played. It's "simultaneous turn-based," which basically means that each player makes their move, then they're executed simultaneously. This makes you have to look at every possibility before committing your move. I will attempt to post a video of this soon. (If anyone knows of good software (Mac), that would be useful).
The soundtrack is amazing and I recommend everyone buy the soundtrack version of this game. It is completely original and includes electronic, symphonic and atmospheric elements. I'll leave the breakdown to someone else...
Mode7 only sells their games in two packs, so you can split the cost with a friend, or just give it to them. Mode7 can be found here.
Frozen synapse is an amazing game, which everyone should try. I think you'll be hooked. The soundtrack is amazing and the multiplayer works well. The campaign is long and engaging, and explains what is actually happening. In short: A great game.