Tron and Bulletstorm’s Steamy Lovechild
Desync is, first and foremost, a supremely awesome looking and sounding game. Heavy synths and neon colours are the order of the day here, and I am totally into it. Think 1980s/ early 1990s condensed into a single art style, and you’re there. The second thing to note about Desync is, it’s really hard. Some people have compared it to the Souls series levels of difficulty, but I think that’s a lazy comparison. Souls games have a more “once I know how to play, this isn’t so bad” level of difficulty. This is more of a bullet hell, Hotline Miami level of difficulty, all in the mechanical skill and knowledge of spawns and level layouts.
This is both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, you feel awesome when you finally ace a level, annihilating everything on the screen before it even has a chance to touch you, on the other, it can feel really unfair and I’ve alt-f4’d out of the game more often that I’d like to admit. Gameplay wise, Desync’s closest comparison is Bulletstorm, combo’s and trick shots are the order of the day here. Stuff like, killing an enemy before it spawns in, knocking them into spikes, air shots, bounce shots, killing them while not looking, and a gigantic list of others that I could literally write for hours about.
While not as brutal or as visceral as Bulletstorm, Desync feels extremely smooth, clean and just plain sweet to play. Well. It does when it’s not being extremely irritating. Desync has an annoying habit of spawning enemies 1mm behind you, or directly on top of you, ruining a run instantly. This leads into Desyncs’s other major comparison, Hotline Miami, which also has super annoying enemy and level design for a major portion of the game, expect to die a hell of a lot. The guns, while not bad, aren’t particularly interesting either. Which isn’t what you want really for a FPS. The ammo system is confusing, not based on numbers just unmarked bars, so you’re never really sure how much ammo you have left, nor how to actually reload. I mean, I’ve played this game a whole bunch and I’m still not really sure how it works, I just press R sometimes and ammo comes back. That’s another thing that might be a deal breaker for some people, this game has no Gamepad support. While I’d still play with keyboard and mouse 100%, I know a lot of people who like to use Gamepads. Now this may sound like I’m ragging on Desync, but I do really like this game. The feeling of finally mastering a level, finally learning every spawn, and finally getting a single unbroken combo is in-cred-ib-le. A lean back, throw your hands up in the air and shout some not-okay-for-tv phrases incredible. But it is tainted by the frustrations I have with it.
“You feel awesome when you finally ace a level.”
Even if you are totally turned off by this genre, I’d say at the very least check out the soundtrack. It’s glorious, so good I’ve got it on my phone and listen to it daily. Overall, it’s a flawed gem. If you’re not bothered by my downsides, it’ll be a damn sparkling gem. I wish they didn’t bother me, as this game just looks and sounds so incredible.
[A copy of the game was provided by the developer or publisher for the purpose of this review.]