At a glance Synthetik may look like yet another roguelike shooter, but its gunplay feels lifted from a heavyweight tactical sim. This is a game about powerful, loud guns that punch smouldering holes in angry robots. Guns that need manually unloading before you can slam another magazine in. Guns which jam or overheat while a dozen homing missiles swirl in on your position - it's intense stuff. Flow Fire Games first released this in March, but today's post-free-expansion version - Legion Rising - was my first time playing, and I dig it. Check the new trailer below.
Synthetik is an odd blend - the clean pre-rendered art reminds me of the old Crusader: No Remorse, but its gunplay feels cribbed equally from Counter-Strike, Call Of Duty and Borderlands. More than other action roguelikes I've played, this is about managing chaos. You'll have to shoot a lot of robots, but a situation can easily spiral out of control, leaving you with jammed guns, shields drained and four bots about to barrel round the corner. Do you heal? Throw a teleporting grenade? Sprint to distant cover? Death comes quickly, and there's no grace period after taking damage.
From the dozen or so rounds I've played so far (although never past the second boss - a huge VTOL aircraft), it's satisfying and very technical stuff. Gun management is more involved than most games, and when you've only got a limited ammo pool for each of your four guns (three mains and a sidearm), you might want to take things slower and let reticules tighten enough to land headshots. At least failed runs provide you with a steady stream of minor unlocks and upgrades to tilt the odds a little further your way next time, but bullets never stop hurting.
While I was late to the party, returning players can check out the release notes for the Legion Rising expansion here. It's a little more of everything - more enemy types, more bosses, new guns, music and new class specialisations. There's a lot here, and systems I've only just begun learning. I'll definitely be playing more of this over the next few weeks, and maybe even trying its online co-op later. While I've only played a couple hours of this so far, it has my guarded recommendation - it's a familiar genre, but a fresh take on it with the best robo-deaths since Binary Domain.