When I started playing Synchrom, I was ready to write it off as another youtube-fodder rage game. But after a short period of time I found myself intensely immersed in the hypnotic rhythm of it, blasting beams of light at a variety of isometric-shaped machine gods that seemed to tap into the zen instinct I never knew I had.

Synchrom is hard. More than hard, Synchrom is an unforgiving title leaving so little room for error that the only way to defeat a Cryptangle, one of the many bosses, is to dedicate all of your focus and and attention to the game. I found this surprisingly refreshing – where similar games such as Super Hexagon rely on practice and muscle memory (allowing the player to simply turn off), Synchrom relies on an understanding of rhythm and a degree of focus that hasn’t been demanded from me in a game for a long time.

The galaxy is being invaded by Cryptangles, a race of machine-gods that desire to absorb all the energy in outer space for their own growth. Humankind’s last hope is the Synchrom, a man-made device crafted to combat these Cryptangles. This story, although intriguingly vague, seems kind of arbitrary and unnecessary in the development of the game. The narrative is dictated to the player in such a way that it can neither be peacefully ignored or avidly followed, making it a bit of a nuisance while progressing through the campaign. Synchrom is a title that is certainly gameplay focused, leaving the story as an afternote most players will likely ignore or avoid.

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The game is led by its calming soundtrack, which dictates the behaviour of the players’ Synchrom and the enemy Cryptangles. To succeed, the player needs to zone in on the beat of the soundtrack to successfully land rhythm-dictated hits on the Cryptangle and its shields. Alongside this, the player needs to ensure that each hit is colour co-ordinated (e.g. randomly dictated blue shots must hit a blue target) all the while dodging enemy projectiles and grabbing pickups for temporary score bonuses or status effects. Needless to say that this is all very overwhelming.

While playing the game, I found myself only able to focus on two things – the colour of my shot and where it needed to go. I found the introduction of pickups (although helpful when accidentally used) almost entirely irrelevant since I never had a spare moment to willingly go to and pick them up without having to sacrifice a missed Synchrom shot. Missing shots adds to a gauge that, when filled, causes the Cryptangle to launch an almost undodgeable attack that, once you’re hit, ends your game. I feel as though Morphiks, the French developers of Synchrom, have jammed too many features into the game – while playing I was only able to comfortably focus on the Synchrom and Cryptangle, the various other features serving only as clutter on the screen that distracted me from the task at hand.

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In spite of the challenge Synchrom posed, it was a surprisingly relaxing game. With each failure, instead of punching my desk in resignation, I felt as though I had progressed in skill and ability and was one step closer to finally beating the level. Rather than punishing failure, Synchrom rewards effort, recording high scores and adding experience to variables such as Focus and Rhythm. I found this approach incredibly endearing, encouraging me to continue trying until I had succeeded. In coming out of the game, I felt a mix of accomplishment and relaxation that I can only put down to the masterful craftsmanship of Synchrom.

For the few individuals that find Synchrom too easy, the game offers a variety of difficulty modifiers that add to your ultimate score and can completely transform how the game demands to be played. It also grants the potential for more challenging unlocks and, thus, more lucrative rewards.

For those who loved punishing themselves in Super Hexagon but want a game that mixes up the formula to create an entirely different experience, I cannot recommend Synchrom enough. It’s a great way to clear your mind and kill a couple of hours between work.

About The Author

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Peter quite likes playing games, and quite likes writing. On IndieHaven, he has found a way to do both at the same time.

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