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Review: SYNTHETIK: Ultimate (Nintendo Switch)By Nayu At 14.09.2022 11:31

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The calling card of any good roguelike is how easy it is to pick up and play. Starting up a playthrough should be instantaneous, whether upon death or from the title screen. SYNTHETIK: Ultimate respects the audience's time. Starting a game is quick and gameplay is frantic. Stages are never so large that they are a chore to walk through, but they are never small enough where combat feels guided. The controls are understandable, with the left analog moving, right analog aiming, and ZR firing. Clicking the right analog stick triggers a dash, L reloads ammo, and the face buttons access other weapons. The controls were clearly designed with a mouse and keyboard in mind, but they translate well to a traditional controller.

Gameplay takes place from a top-down perspective and features some of the best gunplay outside of the FPS genre. Guns pack a punch and play up the Joy-Con's HD Rumble when fired. The sheer variety allows audiences to craft their own play style as they level up their class and customise their loadout with new gear. Combat is reflex based, so those who don't strafe or dodge meet an early death. Enemies are actively mobile as well, requiring constant aiming. Little gameplay nuances help round out the shooting. Standing still while firing focuses your aim and reloading has the chance to jam the gun if not timed right. There's a lot to keep track of during gameplay at any given moment, but that's what makes it compelling.

The art style and music go a long way in complementing the experience as well. The sound design is top notch as is, but Andrea Rocchietti's score is a standout in an aesthetically tight title. The visuals do a good job at making clear what are enemies and what aren't, along with hiding details into the background that players can interact with. A lot of thought was put into the art direction, resulting in arenas with personality. By all accounts, SYNTHETIK: Ultimate makes a fantastic first impression, but the Switch port squanders its good will with one too many technical hiccups.

Flow Fire Games has developed one of the best roguelikes in years, but there are a glaring number of issues with the Switch release. Not only does the game boot up slowly, but it also always asks players their preferred language each launch, slowing down what should be the instant act of jumping into gameplay. It's not unusual for the framerate to dip or gameplay to briefly stall. Performance hiccups are to be expected with any Switch port, but they're especially damning. Worse is the freezing. Long play sessions are prone to crashing regardless if docked and there is even a game breaking bug which actively prevents progression from being made after the second boss. The developers promised an update, but the fact of the matter is that the Switch port should never have been released in this state to begin with.

SYNTHETIK: Ultimate is a fantastic game held down by a dreadful port. The Switch release isn't even worth buying due to the fact that over half the game's content is locked behind a glitch. Flow Fire Games' roguelike deserves all the praise in the world for its creativity, but the Switch version's abysmal launch only speaks to the importance of play testing and reflects the complete lack of quality control present on the Nintendo eShop.

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Final Score
[i]SYNTHETIK: Ultimate[/i] is a wonderful roguelike that's been utterly ruined by its Switch port. What should be one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch is instead emblematic of everything wrong with the eShop. Frame rate dips, technical hiccups, and game breaking glitches tear down all the goodwill this game establishes. When there's no such thing as quality assurance, amazing games release in unplayable states. [i]SYNTHETIK: Ultimate[/i] should be played, just not on Nintendo Switch.

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/10

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