Botline Miami ?
Description … Synthetik is an unforgiving top down roguelike shooter from developers Flow Fire Games.It incorporates some unique mechanics like weapon clip discharge and reloads,and weapon jamming to give an exciting and realistic gaming experience. Players can choose from 8 customisable classes such as gunner,sniper,assassin,demolisher that contain their own specialised weapons,loadouts,perks and benefits. Exploration rewards players with 98 base weapons to find,over 140 items to improve stats and abilities,and its roguelike elements means research and class perks carry over after death.
There’s also 11 adjustable difficulty levels to increase risk and gain bigger rewards.
Story … “1985. After many years of slavery, the AI servants of Kaida Corporation, the world leader in robotics, have formed the “Machine Legion” and have set out to destroy humanity. Awakening in Kaida Corp. Headquarters, you are the human consciousness of a forgotten Android prototype; the last straw holding the Legion from unleashing the Heart of Armageddon. Only you can battle through the levels of Kaida Corporation’s Headquarters, defeat the battalions of enemies within and put an end to this madness.”
Presentation .. Being a roguelite/roguelike.It’s obvious that you spend a lot of time in the main hub screen. Going through lists,equipping,upgrading. I really like the layout of the UI in this game. Weapon list is displayed on the left and is big and bold,with your preloaded weapon set on the right hand side.For a story set in 1985,then it’s a drawback to see the navigational controls set there too! The bottom tabs for difficulty settings,research and items etc seem too small and having to move a small reticule around a screen to highlight them,is just always too awkward and a puzzling dated method to use.
Graphics… Most characters are bright,colourful and crisp. More importantly,it’s always a big bonus to see bullets and laser exchanges in intense firefights. Enemies come as humanoid troops,robot sentries,robo tanks and most bosses are larger machine variants. Everything has distinguished detail and defined reasonably well. Your character really doesn’t change much in appearance,from the standard white robo suit though. Just different character classes have different colour bands in the suits ! Most areas don’t really change in variety from the industrial/factory/pipeline type setting. Lots of drums and canisters,cylinders and explosions from enemy exchanges,although it’s disappointing not to be able to fire at the gas cylinders littered about in order to take out large groups of enemies.
Sound … There’s a soundtrack that’s electronically retro,in a cross between a 70s Kung Fu movie and an 80s zombie movie. Not particularly memorable or one you will remember but at least it does oddly fit with the game.
Gameplay … Each “run” comes at a moderate pace. There’s no trigger happy gun running here,with the slow down in action mainly down to the games “clip”mechanic and occasional weapon jamming. Run out of ammo each time,and players need to press L to discharge the old magazine clip,and ZR to reload a new one. Combine this reload with a sweet spot,that if hit,can great temporary buffs like increased critical kill or firepower,and there’s a good amount to plan and think about in firefight exchanges.
Weapon jamming is also random and usually whilst standing exposed to enemy fire,it requires mashing the ZR button to unjam and refire again. It’s an inclusion that’s interesting,annoying and irritating but then it’s supposed to be.
So it when it comes to exchanges,the combat and the reduction of pace.It does feel more similar to Hotline Miami than bullet hell shooter but much more forgiving on default difficulty.
Each area more or less,carries the same thing. You start at a starting portal.Advance through areas and look for weapon crates,item crates,whilst eliminating enemies in order to get to the other portal and exiting the level. There’s a massive amount of customisable options available,both at the hub and in game at each area. Tags can be collected and added on to weapons and armour granting additional buffs. Credits can be collected to spend at various booths,should they be available in that area and Xp accumulates through area progression and enemy kills,with levelling up granting a tougher and more resilient main character for the player.
Enemy AI is also pretty good with most characters not standing around as potential cannon fodder. Humanoids and robot sentries do cover if fired at with large amounts of enemies following and trying to flank you,and trap you into a corner. In certain areas,there’s also static gun and rocket turrets that will auto target you,should you get in range and usually positioned near a juicy weapon or item crate or near the exit portal.
Depending on your class,there’s a standard dash manoeuvre that can be used to get out of trouble but once used,takes a certain time to recharge. Certain classes can use up to two though.
Probably the only slight downside here,is the boss screens after completing several areas. My experience involved larger bosses and smaller but considerably more buffed tank types. Although a boss fight is a nice change and break from exploring standard areas. The boss is usually quite predictable in attacks and relies on unleashing smaller enemies to cover its weaknesses.
Performance … Probably the biggest downsides at the moment,are a certain couple of issues that really need to be addressed as soon as possible. The first is during points at which certain areas get “busy”,and the sudden drop of frame rate,with animations choppy and movements temporarily “stuttery!” Not a big deal breaker but noticeable and a drawback on later areas where enemies and action gets more intense.
Above that though, and there’s a bigger problem with a game crash on an area exit portal.
Totally random and unexpected. This crash happened several times I played for this review and really wouldn’t be a problem with a random save option,but this is a roguelite title. Players are making runs with death causing a restart and a loss of items discovered. So imagine a sudden random crash causing the “software error”message and a system restart,meaning you’ve lost your good run,a rare item and all xp, through no fault of your own ! It’s sadly here and it happens and that degree of reliability and trust is badly effected at the moment,until a future patch/update hopefully comes out.
Overall … Synthetik is an highly enjoyable shooter that is just sadly held back by its current state as regards performance. At $15 ,it’s only recommended as a future investment and a gamble. Developers aware of the current issues and addressing them,means there’s the potential of an improved version in the immediate future. Just not now.
Thanks to Flow Fire Games for the code.