Synapse – The Review

August 17, 2023 ·

If you could unlock the mind’s ability, how would you use it? But if you could enter one’s mind, would that ability become a power for good or would greed start to play into the mix? Would the outcome be for the greater good or would it set off a path of destruction? It’s easy to think about what we would do and the possibilities, but does developer nDreams allow us to ability to test the power as we enter the mind? Yes, they do. Let’s find out with Synapse for PlayStation VR2.

Synapse is an action rogue-lite shooter where you play as a mind-breaking operative, you’ll invade the subconscious of a notorious enemy of the state and battle the twisted products of his mind. Evolve and master your own combat style by combining increasingly sophisticated skills and abilities. So before going in trying to take out whatever you can, there are a few things that you should be aware of. First, make sure you have some room, at least some arm-length room. You can play either sitting or standing, just make sure you don’t hit anyone or anything. Second, make sure you clear some time from your schedule as you will spend some time playing. Third, I am not going to spoil anything for anyone as that would not be fun for anyone. Finally, just have some fun. With that said…let’s continue…

Before you really first start the game, you may want to go into Settings and change a couple of things. Depending on how you have your VR setup, you may need to adjust your turn speed, Turn Type, Movement Type, and Telekinesis targeting. Once you have everything set, it’s time to get into the action. You learn that your target is one Peter Conrad, and is part of the Consortium group that has some evil plans that need to be taken care of. You learn that you must enter his mind through a device and use your skills to stop whatever you may face. But before facing what may be out there you want to make sure you are as ready as you can be. In your dominant hand, which you can change in settings, you will hold your weapon, and in the other, in the palm of your hand you have your Tactical Hud will let you know where you and the enemies are located, health, enemy count, and defiance.

You will be entering through portals, aka the Colonel’s mind space, where throughout each stage you must try to clear out all the random enemies, try and locate the statues that offer up newer weapons as well as your Telekenisis power. You only have a certain amount of ammo to use, which you can gain more by defeating enemies. If you run out of ammo, you will just need to insert a new clip and carry on, however, if there is no ammo to use, you will be running around with an empty gun. Your other hand is used for your Telekinesis power where you can move objects, such as blocks and explosion barrels, to attack the enemies. When using the exploding barrels, you learn real quick not to pull the trigger too quickly as you start to get the feeling where the halfway mark is. But you easily start to figure out how things work.

I have to say that the eye tracking works perfectly here. Being able to just look at something, use your eyes, and have that being tracked to interact really adds to the fun. But nDreams did not stop there with using the PlayStation VR2 features, you can feel the explosions near you as well as when the enemies are shooting at you, and then when you add the feeling of the Sense controllers and feeling every shot to the adaptive triggers that give an additional feel of using your powers, it is just a wonderful combination.

If you happen to die, and you will, before you start again, you do have the option to grab some upgrades as long as you have the points for them. There will be two circles to stand in. On the left side, you have your Revelations, which shows your achievements within your run. In the right circle, you have your upgrades which are split into three parts; Tactician, Assassin, and Survivor. By upgrading, you can become stronger as you try to make it through all the levels and stages. So upgrade wisely.

I will say when you die, you do have to start over. And one might think this could be frustrating. On the contrary, this made me want to play more. And don’t think that once you enter a portal you know where the enemies and shrines are located. Things are located in different areas. This just makes you play smarter as you go in each time. Some enemies will appear and try to shoot you from above to even right behind you. Some will throw grenades, while some will want to run toward you embracing you with exploding hugs. A couple of times when death was right there, I had no problem opening my arms to give that enemy a hug. I mean, maybe that’s all it needed in life.

Pay attention to where enemies die as you can go over there and collect any ammo or Defiance that is dropped. Defiance looks like red leaves on the ground from the enemies. You will want to collect these to enhance your run and spend it at the Defiance Nodes where you can help refill your Health, Ammo, and other things. Now, speaking of Defiance to collect, you will want to be on the lookout as there are areas where you can spot a Defiance tree to collect them as well.

Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. Looking at the graphics, nDreams did a fantastic job with using gray for the area and having other things such as enemies, Defiance, and even when you use your Telekinesis. The colors really pop thanks to the 4K HDR display and there is something about this world and art style that made me just want to stay in longer. With the sound, explosions could be heard and the enemies could be detected from all around without any issue thanks to the Tempest 3D AudioTech and when you pair that with the Pulse 3D Headset, it helped make the experience that much better.

There are some things that I would love to see. First, more stages. Yes, enemies and objects will appear in different areas when you die, but when you are enjoying everything too much, you just don’t want it to end. Second, more control options. Don’t get me wrong, everything works as it should and provides a great experience, however, there are no options for an additional movement like sliding by an enemy to get the sneak attack. So adding additional movements would just add to the experience. Third, more weapons and powers. It would be fun if there was more of a variety of weapons and an additional power or two. And finally, please let there be a Synapse 2.

Synapse brings the fun, the thinking, and the strategy that this is one of those games that you show those who have played VR to those that are just curious about it and should be in everyone’s arsenal for PlayStation VR2. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we may forget to take that mental break from reality. Sometimes we just have to be told, while others, we have to be shown. When the world engulfs us in its ways, shouldn’t we all try to take a step back and refresh our minds?

Synapse is out now for PlayStation VR2 on the PlayStation Store. A review code was provided.

To learn more about nDreams, please visit their sitelike them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I’m going back into Synapse.

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