Frozen Synapse is an Awesome Game
Mode 7 Games‘ Frozen Synapse is a turn-based-strategy game for PC and Mac that focuses solely on tactics and does away with base-building. I’m a huge turn-based-strategy and asynchronous multiplayer fan, so I’ve been really hyped on this game for a while now (Rock Paper Shotgun‘s coverage of the game got me really excited). I finally got my hands on the game last week, and I’m happy to report that Frozen Synapse is everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s like playing with little army men when you were 5 years old all over again.
Mode 7 Games decided to go with a stark, simplistic art style for Frozen Synapse, and it’s a very effective way to ensure that players are focusing on the tactics. In Frozen Synapse, games take place by taking 5 second turns. Essentially, each player gives orders to each member of their squad, then hits the “Prime” button. When both players have Primed, the turn plays out and you start over again. The environments are basically office parks – random assortments of walls, rooms, and windows that you can duck behind and shoot over. Squads consist of a variety of soldiers: at first, you’ll simply have some assault troopers with submachine guns, however as the campaign wears on (and always in multiplayer), you will be introduced to new units that add new tactics (ie. grenade-lobbing soldiers can throw a grenade in a room and then retreat to take cover behind a wall).
Each soldier unit can perform a variety of actions including moving, focusing on an area, engaging on sight, ducking, waiting, and more. One interesting aspect of Frozen Synapse is that watching a turn unfold almost always ends in surprise. Frozen Synapse allows you to program in moves for your enemies, and then plays out the scenario you’ve programmed, allowing you a preview of what may happen when you “Prime” your turn. This adds a depth to the game that almost drives me crazy. Sometimes, I’ll take half an hour just to plan out one move, agonizing over which soldier is going to move where. When you plan a turn perfectly and take out more than one enemy soldier, it is so very satisfying, and that is the carrot that propelled me through the Frozen Synapse campaign. I love tactics, and this game is the perfect game for that aspect of my personality.
Aside from the stellar single-player campaign, Frozen Synapse has a fairly robust multiplayer component. You can play via email or through the Frozen Synapse Client, finding random games or battling your friends. I would highly recommend playing through the tutorial the first time you boot up Frozen Synapse, as the game is very complicated and may overwhelm some gamers. If you love turn-based-strategy games like I do, I would highly recommend Frozen Synapse, you can get it for $20 on Steam.