We’re just four months into the PS VR2’s lifecycle and Sony hasn’t let up when it comes to announcing titles for their new headset. One of those new, and more importantly, exclusive titles is nDreams’ upcoming cerebral FPS ‘Synapse’ which arrives July 4th.
First unveiled back in February, right after the launch of the PS VR2, Synapse gave gamers instant ‘Superhot’ vibes but, upon further inspection, nDreams seemed to have crafted a stylistic and engaging FPS all of their own. Having played through the campaign and gone back for a second helping (read from that what you will) here’s what we thought of Synapse for PS VR2.
In Synapse, you play as a highly skilled agent tasked with infiltrating the labyrinthine mind of Colonel Peter Conrad, portrayed by the iconic David Hayter. Guided by the expert hand of Jennifer Hale’s captivating performance as Clara Sorensen, your Handler, you’ll unravel secrets, solve puzzles, all in a very ‘Inception-like’ way.
With each step into Conrad’s consciousness, the line between truth and deception becomes increasingly blurred. Your actual playthrough efforts (and the varying number of times you might die) impacts how the story is delivered in terms of narration so it’s an intriguing approach. Overall, and to avoid spoilers, getting to the very core of the story and understanding what exactly was unfolding was as engaging as the gameplay itself.
As we mentioned in our opener, Synapse’s gameplay initially gave us strong ‘Superhot’ vibes but this quickly dissipated after a few minutes. One of the game’s standout features is its implementation of telekinesis as one of your main weapons in combat. nDreams has done a fantastic job of finetuning this particular mechanic to be instinctive and responsive, resulting in some seriously satisfying new ways for dispatching enemies and progressing through levels.
Synapse’s progression system is slightly ‘roguelike’ in nature in so far as, each time you die, you must start again but, depending on how well your previous runs went, you can unlock points or ‘Revelations’ for completing various in-game tasks such as taking down a set number of enemies with telekinesis for example.
With these points, you can upgrade various attributes to do with your health, gun mechanics or telekinetic abilities, all of which make you that bit stronger or more versatile for your next run. While I wasn’t initial sure if this particular gameplay mechanic would work, I quickly found myself replicating Henry Cavill’s ‘arm reload’ and getting psyched to take on the onslaught of enemies again!
The PS VR2’s eye-tracking is also implemented to great effect and allows for enhanced aiming and pinpoint precision, while motion controls transform telekinetic abilities into a physical, full-body experience. From hurling objects at foes strategically to manipulating the environment for advantageous paths, every action feels natural and purposeful.
Throughout each of the levels, as you take down more and more enemies, you’ll gather a floating ‘petal-like’ material called ‘Defiance’ which can be used at in-run depots to help replenish your ammo or some health. At the end of each level, you’ll also be offered the choice of a new ‘Mind Hack’, such as ricocheting bullets, to add even more versatility to how you might approach the next level.
nDreams’ popular ‘run and cover’ gunplay from one of their other VR FPS titles ‘Fracked’ also makes a return, allowing players to grab any part of the environment to hide behind for cover. With this particular mechanic, you can also climb the walls and rock formations in each of the levels to try and find different vantage points for taking down enemies and it almost gave us ‘Spider-Man’ vibes, minus the ability to ‘thwip’ our way around the various levels. When everything comes together in the heat of battle though, we’ve literally come away sweating from the intensity but it’s so damn enjoyable, we don’t care.
In terms of length, I finished my first playthrough (after dying, many times..) in about 8-9 hours and, once you’ve done this, you unlock an even harder difficulty but you still have access to all your previously unlocked abilities. With these abilities, and your experience from completing your first run-through, you should be more than capable to take on these even tougher enemies.
Synapse’s striking visuals help it to immediately stand out from the collection of ever-growing FPS VR titles. Initially starting out in ‘full colour’ as you make your way into the mind of Colonel Conrad, things turn monochromatic with your telekinetic abilities, bullets, approaching enemies and a few other points of note the only things offering pops of colour. Saying that, these ‘pops’ help to focus your eyes on things of importance such as moveable crates and explosive barrels that can be used to take down foes.
Synapse is a fantastic addition to PS VR2’s line up of exclusive titles and nDreams has done an impressive job of creating a unique and engaging take on the FPS genre. Its eye-tracking implementation in particular is extremely well done and made us feel like a cross between X-Men’s Magneto and a Sith Lord from Star Wars as we flung objects and enemies around levels with what felt like the power of our mind.
Synapse Pricing & Availability
Synapse is available exclusively on PlayStation VR2 via the PlayStation Store for €35.99 or €32.39 with an active PlayStation Plus subscription.
REVIEW: Synapse (PS VR2) - Cerebral-Level Combat
Synapse is a fantastic addition to PS VR2’s line up of exclusive titles and nDreams has done an impressive job of creating a unique and engaging take on the FPS genre.