Synergia aims to offer a cyberpunk-themed sapphic visual novel on Nintendo Switch: find out in our review if it works
We would make a lot of jokes about the various jokes that can come from an indie like Synergy, from the title to the topics covered, but in reality the humor does not find space in this review of the version Nintendo Switch. Not because it has particular defects, on the contrary; it is a quality product, and it is when the latter is lacking that the reviews become sarcastic. However, there is a difference between the objective quality of the title and the subjective appeal that the latter can boast; it’s about a visual novel, which in addition to being a niche genre is also outside the area of competence of those who are writing to you now.
Precisely for this reason the merits of the youngest son of EastAsiaSoft, of a more narrative nature than anything else. Let us be further clear: it is almost exclusively about a crossroads novel, which in the strict sense of “gameplay” has very little. A particularly “disposable” experience, therefore, to which only the aforementioned crossroads give a little replayability. Not necessarily bad, but before shelling out fifteen euros for a novel (one devoid of inter-European localization, nonetheless) you may want to wait for a little opinion. As always, that’s what we’re here for.
Let’s open a further parenthesis on the Nintendo Switch version of Synergia before going into the heart of the review: the topics covered. The game combines two topics that become more current with each passing day, namely the emergence of artificial intelligences and the LGBTQ representation. The delicacy with which both topics are treated by the narrative sector, despite (or perhaps precisely because of) the cynical point of view of the protagonist Cila, denotes a profound understanding of the theme of discrimination – from the point of view of those who perpetrate it, passing for the consequences on those who suffer it.
Mankind, in some ways, is already considering the pros and cons of crossing it threshold between artificial intelligence limited to its burdens – which the game does not hesitate to compare to slavery – and the idea of a self-conscious robot. In parallel to this narrative fulcrum we have a tangible allegory for the sexual identity in each individual, which often (but limited enough to say “not too much”) emerges with the futuristic taboo of the intimacy between human and android. In short, the foundations to tell a compelling story are already there from the first moments of the game, to the point of having snatched a “let’s see how it goes on” genuine many times.
The writer has already had the opportunity to deal with a visual novel on Nintendo Switch even before Synergia, by publishing a review of Sinless. Let’s take the latter as an example simply for a comparison that sees today’s examinee emerge favorably. Where Sinless flaunted his muse with (misplaced) narcissism – or, for better or worse, Snatcher and the rest of Hideo Kojima’s work – the title we are talking about today it rarely degenerates into the pretentious. There are occasions when it does, but beyond the illustrious citations to the major exponents of cyberpunk at the end of each chapter, the plot continues with humility and competence.
In the interludes in question the names of Philip K. Dick and Sartre frequently appear, proverbs, Ghost in The Shell (of course) and, sometimes, even biblical verses. For its part, the writer would like to propose the webcomic Questionable Content and its approach to the two main cornerstones of this story steeped in neon lights. As in QC, also in this title intimacy emerges repeatedly as the plot kicks in, in ways that the mere mention of “Intense Violence” on Nintendo eShop suggests they escaped PEGI scrutiny. Be regular.
The arrival of Synergia on the Nintendo Switch brings with it a colorful cast of characters, on which we would like to spend a few words in the review phase. Not surprisingly, the opening titles of the game present us with many of the faces that we will see in this adventure (graphics), accompanied by their names. We have already alluded to which, the cold and disillusioned policewoman around whom the various vicissitudes of the story revolve. Together with her, at least for the first (very first) bars of the game we will see the robotic roommate Elaine, from which Cila punctually removes the more “human” functions to the detriment of its functioning. Even without spoiling it, you can imagine how it ends.
Soon we will get to know too Yoko, an old friend of Cila who sells androids on the black market. Through Yoko he takes over Mara (or MARA), an android almost indistinguishable from a human being. Mara is, fundamentally, the key with which Cila finds herself forced to review her entire moral compass, shaped by former colleagues who invite her to smiles of circumstance and a society so tied to technology as to make the very concept of biological humanity incredibly labile. In all this there is no shortage of arrows to extremism, one above all the religion called “humanism”. In conclusion, the critique of today’s society under the pretext of science fiction it is obvious.
We’ve talked about the world of Synergia more than enough; the time has come to dissect the videogame heart of the review, that is the gameplay which, on Nintendo Switch… suffers. There is no way to get around it: seen as a game, this title – despite its undoubted ability to immerse the player – sins, and even a lot. We are not referring to the priority of the plot over the gameplay itself, but of the management of the latter. If you have no problems playing it in portable mode, luckily for you there is the option of using the touch screen (a – minimal – to the detriment of resolution).
If you play it in fixed mode, however, be prepared for a particularly experience sibylline. We discovered the possibility of changing the color scheme of the interface from red to white only after a couple of chapters. Even after leaving the obvious inferiority of crimson dialog boxes behind, however, menu navigation remains a nightmare with the controller. Several times we have inadvertently skipped pages and pages of dialogues – thus leading us to load our last save – due to a key pressed at the wrong time. It doesn’t entirely spoil the game, but it often breaks the spell of diving.
We are at the final stages of our review: we can talk about what remains of Synergia talking about the technical side of the Nintendo Switch version. Graphically, atrocious functionality of the interface permitting, the artist’s hand drawings Francisco Perez Molina they maintain their undoubted quality both in fixed mode and – more importantly, at this point – in portable version. Progress in the game, from the first picks to the numerous endings they lead to their ramifications, will reward us with one galleria accessible from the main menu, where the illustrations are free from the contextual hindrance of the dialogues.
The soundtrack it brings with it an atmosphere from which the player’s immersion draws a colossal benefit. The musician Andy Andi Han, which is no stranger to the conventions of cyberpunk, manages to give its own identity to every moment of the game, further amplifying what each scene aims to communicate to the player. Even in scenes where considerable tension is revealed, the sound accompaniment manages to make this (appropriately artificial) discomfort penetrate under the skin. All this without degenerating into the (vulgar, let’s face it) nihilism of a Lars Von Trier film, no small feat.
It saddens us to close the review of Synergia recognizing its (undoubted) qualities, without at the same time being able to recommend this title to all Nintendo Switch owners. It is a game that, even more than Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2, it will know how to conquer those few fine palates to which it is addressed, but which is unlikely to involve the rest of the audience. But if you want to try the genre, the mere presence of English does not scare you and you get a discount, do not be hesitant. Just be ready for a game that, like so many other titles today more aimed at the mere artistic side, of strictly “videogame” has very little.
This was what we thought. But what is your opinion? Tell us below, and as always do not forget to stay on TechGameWorld.com to read other reviews and get all the most important news on the gaming sphere and beyond. For your gamer needs, you can instead find the best discounts in digital format on Instant Gaming.
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