There are many reasons why we play videogames, and one of them is to feel like a badass. In that pursuit, Synapse from developer nDreams is rather swell. After all, who doesn’t want to assume the role of a special agent, tapping into the mind of a notorious criminal and exploring its zones while wielding a gun in one hand and telekinetic powers in another?
That really is the premise of this PSVR 2-exclusive adventure, and it makes for a very fun time indeed. Though it also helps that it has a style all of its own. As you battle your way through a nefarious mind, the fractured monochrome landscapes are offset with enemies laden with flourishes of colour, as are the objects you can interact with. It not only makes for striking visuals, but also makes it easier for you to scan the battlefield and take control of it.
That’s important, and with Synapse being a roguelike, the odds are stacked against you. At least initially, anyway. In the early stages, you’ll jump into a run, and after making your way through a zone or two packed full of enemies, you might run out of health and find yourself overcome. But with each attempt comes a chance to grow, with the challenges you’ve completed granting points that can be spent to unlock things such as health pickups, new weapons and even new abilities.
Over time, then, your exploits in Synapse become that bit more manageable. Tough in true roguelike fashion, there’s always an element of luck involved in your success. You might get the option of some brilliant perks at the end of each zone during a run, for example, or you might simply get a winning combination of object and enemy placements.
Ultimately, though, it’s the gameplay here that will keep you coming back for more. Playing Synapse, you really do feel like a god at times, wiping out waves of enemies with ease. With your right hand you can take aim at enemies and shoot with your currently equipped weapon, refilling your ammo by ejecting your clip then pushing in another by bringing it to your body or other arm. All the while, you need to avoid enemy attacks, either by keeping on the move or taking cover.
Your left hand is what brings all the magic, though. Thanks to eye-tracking, all you have to do is glance at an object such as a block or an explosive barrel and then you can grab it. Blocks can then be used to provide you with cover, or swung to pummel one or more enemies. You can also simply drop them on top of them. Barrels, on the other hand, can be moved close to enemies and then crushed, creating a highly damaging explosion. And as you progress through the game and expand your telekinetic abilities, more options become available. Want to pick up enemies themselves and fling them? No problem.
It all makes for an intoxicating experience, where your abilities soon feel natural. While there are a wealth of comfort features, however, those prone to VR motion sickness might want to think twice before jumping in as there’s a lot of moving about involved. To succeed, you constantly need to be changing position, checking where your enemies are and quickly adapting to your situation. It can be quite the energetic experience.
While its unique visual style – and even the action – can eventually become a little repetitive, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Synapse offers. It’s particularly fun in short bursts, and so it’s handy that you can leave the game during a run and resume where you left off at a later date. if you’re after a fun, action-packed PSVR 2 experience that truly puts supernatural power in your hands, then, it’s definitely worthy of your time and money.