It takes me 20 to 30 minutes to know whether I’m going to like a game or not. DESYNC is no exception. While I initially liked the the Tron-esque visual style and the synth-heavy ‘80s soundtrack, the game left me with a feeling of annoyance and, after playing a bit more later, a feeling of disgust and nausea.
DESYNC is an arena shooter where wave after wave of enemies come in to kill you as you do your best to kill them in the most stylish ways possible. You are rewarded for combining different skills, weapons, moves, and traps together to kill your enemies. Bulletstorm is an obvious inspiration. Now while all of this sounds really good and appealing on paper, you can’t really do any skill kill combos if you are dead, and this game kills you a lot.
The enemies, mostly melee based, hit really hard, as most melee based enemies should. However, they are also much faster than you, which makes it extremely annoying as you try to run backwards and shoot one in front of you only to see yourself sandwiched against another enemy, wall, or worse, a trap you meant to lead him into.
The arena design itself seems lazily placed and doesn’t give you a sense of safety or cover, which is quite important as the enemies come out from literally anywhere on the map. Traps become more of a liability than an advantage as some of them are quite hard to discern from the background, as with most things in the stage.
The UI is just unnecessarily made difficult to project a feeling of immersion. Instead of having your stage select on menu screen, you need to open and rotate a map in game until you find the arena you want to play in. There are giant terminals in the game where you upgrade skills, equip weapons. and special equipment. These terminals however are a bit cumbersome to use, and I think a simple pause menu system would’ve made things easier.
The visual effects (scanlines and lots and lots of light blinking), need to go. While I completely understand that they need to follow through with their design choices, they really need to go. Give me an option to tone them down or remove them, because design choices that make you want to throw up or induce a heavy migraine and make you want to stop playing, are not good design choices.
While the game has all these glaring problems, they are not things that are completely game-breaking and can easily be fixed with a patch. The developers have already released several patches since the game’s launch and have fixed a number of issues plaguing the game, like its balance.
What makes this game miss out on being a really good twitch shooter is I don’t think it rewards the player enough for creativity when you do get a stylish kill and it doesn’t do much to teach you how to improve yourself when you die. It’s quite exhilarating getting a combo kill on a particularly annoying opponent, and while the game does give you a drop or power up here and there, it lacks any visual rewards for creative kills. Your enemy just goes “*bloop*, I’m dead.” when creative kills are supposed to make you feel like a badass. Death in the game also needs to be tweaked as, with several deaths I’ve had, I had no clue what got me in the first place. A replay cam might help to check and see whether it was a missed input on your part or a sneaky enemy you left alive that actually killed you. For a game that demands some skill from the player, it needs to help the player “git gud” too.
Overall, I think there is definitely hope for DESYNC to get better. The developers just need to find that sweet spot in difficulty as well as tweak gameplay mechanics and this game could be something really great for the genre.