Desync has been a tough game to review, which is why this is late. Despite a laptop refusing to stay on and a library laptop being used instead, I’ve experienced exhilarating but tough as nails shooting within Desync. About 5 hours in, I have reached the first boss and I’ve reached a road stop; it’s just too tough and the specs of the computer cannot run it at the highest frame rate (144fps) possible despite getting a solid 60 fps. This is the end of my Desync playthrough. Is it cool? For sure. But is it for the casual PC gamer without a gaming mouse or hardware to back it up? Maybe not.
Desync is a clever first person shooter set in an intensely digital Tron-like world. The game looks fantastic, but it has its caveats for being an overly digital world. Brimming with flair, this game shines in its highly digital aesthetic. Objects and enemies glow in neon, the game looks satisfyingly retro with its lower resolution options, and the particle effects look stunning in front of this digital backdrop. However, it can be really intense and it’s hard to notice what’s going on around you. I could only play this in 30 minute-1 hour chunks. The visuals stand out so much to the point of it being nausea inducing, but again, it is a stunning game and is instantly striking on screen.
Desync is tough in a good way…and a bad way. Desync throws enemies at you from every angle, sometimes in an incredibly unfair fashion. They can instantly spawn on you from behind and can take a majority of your health away just like that. Part of the game is to properly strategize where to go and how to deal with the incoming enemies. It is rewarding to learn each enemy’s attacks and figure out how to counter them with the weapons at your disposal. And these weapons are cool. Every weapon you collect throughout the game has a secondary fire and like Bulletstorm, when you finish off an enemy in a specific way, you get extra points and an incredibly satisfying slow-mo effect that highlights this achievement. When you finish off these enemies in a new way, it gives you another tactic at your sleeves and you grow as a player of Desync. The level design challenges you to think in alternate options to fight incoming waves and when you get through a tricky section by sheer will or tactically using an area to your advantage, it is – I’ll say it again – satisfying as hell. This is a tough game but like Dark Souls, once you figure out how to get through it, it’s an exhilarating ride.
What plagues the game, however, are the distracting visuals and the unfair traps that lay all around the maps of the game. The visuals are so intense that it’s difficult to assess a situation on screen at times and it is easy to walk into a trap that is meant for your enemies. If you are equipped with a better mouse, have a higher frame rate, or are more experienced in shooters like this, you might be able to assess the map easier but most of the time, I made great progress on one section and then BAM, I get hit by spikes by accident as they are spread all over in inconvenient spots.
Headphone users beware. This game is really loud when first launched and the intense music doesn’t help. The music is unpleasant to the ears. It features a heavy deep bass that is hard to handle and repetitive loops. It manages to keep the blood pumping during intense battles with enemy waves coming in and the first boss battle, but this matched with the intense visuals on-screen can be overwhelming. However, every sound effect in Desync is well tuned to the digital landscape of Desync. Every step in the world, the cries of enemies, and the shots from each gun sound perfect, the guns especially. The sound of the shotgun firing and then the enemy being deleted off-screen from the attack is an example of how the battles in Desync draw you into the intense firefights of the game.
Despite having unforeseen issues with reviewing this game, Desync is definitely a shooter I’ll return to in a few weeks when I return home and have access to my desktop. The high-impact, clever, and fast shooting is delightfully – I’ll say it again – satisfying, the graphics style is intense but cool to explore, and the level design introduces you to new mechanics as you go along (which is a great sign of good game design). Even though the music is too repetitive and bass heavy and there are unfair placements of traps, Desync is a trip to the digital world you should consider going to.
A Steam Review code was provided by Adult Swim Games for the purpose of this review