GAME REVIEW: Dead Synchronicity (PS4)

Before playing Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today, I played 4 hours of Adam Wolfe, a hidden object adventure game that puts you in the role of a supernatural detective. Dead Synchronicity is much closer to the kind of adventure game I am interested in playing. It is also a darker, more mature adventure than I am used to playing; that’s a tone I can appreciate. Tone and style can only do so much for me. Let’s dig into the other facets of this post-apocalyptic game.

You should know what story Dead Synchronicity is telling. Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today is the story of an apocalypse, a world after the event called The Great Wave. During The Great Wave, many people became sick, and society crumbled. You are Michael, an amnesiac who knows nothing about what has happened to the world. He wants to learn about his past, and that yearning sends him through the ruins of towns and cities and straight into danger.

Dead Synchronicity has sparse animation.  It’s not in a motion comic, animated puppet style, but the characters’ mouth flaps aren’t unique to the dialogue, and the cut scenes are done in the motion comic style. The most animation to expect is from your character as he walks from place to place. Only in a genre like this can you get away with limited animation. There’s the animation, which can be forgiven for cutting corners, and then there’s presentation. The character design is just realistic enough to match the mature content of the game. They remind me of characters from The Triplets of Belleville– a very European design. The backgrounds and scenes are much more realistic. They look good, but aren’t noteworthy.

There have been several versions of Dead Synchronicity. You can find it on PC (including Mac and Linux) and on mobile devices. In the PC version, I ran into a bit of an issue. I do not have a big HDTV screen (still at 32 inches) but I have never comes across a game that did not properly conform to my screen. If I had an option in Dead Synchronicity‘s settings to change the resolution or adjust the screen margins, then this oversight wouldn’t be that much trouble. The error, fortunately, did not get in the way of game progression; it only cut off some subtitles at the right side of my screen.

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The sights are alright, and so are the sounds. As far as I have progressed, there isn’t much music, but “Rose’s Theme” is my favorite song out of everything heard in Dead Synchronicity. It perfectly fits her situation and status. Another great song is “Lullaby.”  I think that because this song is lighter than most of the dire tones you hear in the rest of the game, this song stands out so much to me. You can get a taste of the soundtrack from developer Fictiorama’s Soundcloud page. The way I feel about the music is similar to how I feel about the voice cast. I didn’t hear a voice performance that I detested, but very few stay in my memory. The main character, Michael, was very well cast, and I guess that’s the very least you can hope for from an adventure game. The other character performances range from cartoonish to serious. I would’ve liked it if all the characters were played straight, but a silly voice or two doesn’t wreck the narrative.

I finally turn my attention to the gameplay. Before I get into anything, let me tell you of an early blunder: the stereotypes about men are true- we don’t like to read instructions. Case in point with Dead Synchronicity. I went straight into the game, and I got stuck at certain points. I got so frustrated that I resorted to consulting walkthroughs. I had completely forgotten that adventure games provide a feature to help you if you get stuck and you don’t know where you should go next, or what to investigate. On the PS4, the L2 and R2 buttons are your “Hey, dummy!” buttons. Even with the helpful illuminated dots on the screen to point the way out to me, I still got stuck, not knowing what the game was asking of me. That is the main failure of not only Dead Synchronicity, but many point and click adventure games.

I know that point and click adventures want to offer some challenge, to give you puzzle pieces that you need to make sense of. Time after time, adventure games slip and fall, offering a bunch of items that don’t seem to solve any of your current problems. I will give a perfect example from Dead Synchronicity: For a while, I had an item in my inventory, a jagged piece of broken glass. I tried to use this item multiple times, because, as I’ve said previously, I was frustrated at not being able to progress. Then came a time where I finally used this item, and it is at quite a special moment. It was the only moment that I really didn’t want to use this piece of glass- which might have been the feeling the developers were hoping to elicit from players.

Dead Synchronicity successfully delivers an enthralling plot, but the typical missteps found in adventure games are also found within it. I don’t think that it is too much to ask for an adventure game to apply logic to item use.  Because of such frustration, my appreciation for the game has deteriorated. Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today is available on PS4 for £19.99 ($19.99).

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer: VichusSmith

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