App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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I got my first taste of Frozen Synapse almost two full years ago when it was released on Steam. Although I suppose a more accurate way of putting it is that I threw myself on Mode 7’s unique and stylish strategy game the second it was available, because I like weird stuff. Now it’s made the leap to the iPad, and I’ve got to say it feels like a perfect fit.
Frozen Synapse is all about small skirmishes in randomly generated environments, both for the single player campaign and everything else. What makes all these skirmishes so interesting is that each virtual soldier’s actions must be carefully programmed every turn. Players can instruct them to aim in a specific direction while moving in another, create paths using multiple waypoints, make use of cover, or even blow it said cover to bits and change the arena’s landscape for the rest of the match. All actions can be previewed before they’re submitted, and once finished both sides will do their thing at the same time.
The visuals lack any sort of fine details, but the simplicity of the basic colors and slight glow to the environments really make everything pop. It’s like playing some kind of simulation inside a computer of the future, which is actually what the story is about so yeah, good stuff. The gameplay is also quite interesting as well. Since both players (or the player and the AI) turns play out at the same time there’s a need to try and predict actions, as well as react to them. Facing, position, movement, and cover are all important factors to consider and could mean the difference between life and death for the little digital warriors. It’s an intricate and meticulous system that rewards tactics over brute force.
With a game as complex as Frozen Synapse jumping in with no prior knowledge or experience can be a bit daunting. So it’s rather unfortunate that there’s no in-game tutorial to help newbies get acclimated. There are videos to watch that cover all the basics and most of the advanced stuff but there’s no substitution for good old interactive How-Tos. It’s also a bit more involved than the other strategy games iOS users might be familiar with, as I’ve said, so anyone looking for an easy drop-in drop-out style multiplayer fix might want to weigh their options.
Personally, though, I feel like Frozen Synapse is a great addition to the iPad’s library. There are a lot of ins and outs to learn and remember but it can be a very rewarding and entertaining strategy game for those who are willing to give it a shot.