In a world where humans are losing control, it's time to pick up a weapon and take out the robot enemies that we once helped to create. SYNTHETIK: Ultimate features a unique mag-eject reloading system that adds a sense of realism to the madness. Packed with over 140 items, eight class specifications, 11 difficulty modifications and plenty of unique loadout combinations, the term 'Ultimate' here may well be an understatement.

Gameplay

SYNTHETIK's topdown twin-stick shooter gameplay is far from anything new and yet, it provides clever firearm nuances such as the weapon getting jammed or ejecting mags before you can load in your new one to reload to give its own unique flavour. This concept was difficult to wrap my head around at first as most games bypass this by simply having it as part of the reloading process but when I got my head around it, the gunplay felt more authentic and impactful.

There's a lot of variety in how you can play SYNTHETIK: Ultimate. From the beginning, you can choose your class which dictates if you prefer to be stealthy and kill from a distance, charge in full force with powerful weapons and taking enemies down before they notice your there or you can go with the defensive route and being equipped with a shield and heavy armour. These choices provide multiple gameplay opportunities for replayability as well as strategic value.

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The HUD and menu system confused me and had me wondering why certain decision were made the way they were. For starters, SYNTHETIK: Ultimate is a lazy port where the only way to interact with the main menu is with a cursor via the joystick. That being said, the HD Rumble implementation is fantastic, with each weapon having some grunt behind firing. So I guess in this instance, you win some and you lose some.

The movement of your character is quite smooth, despite the occassional frame rate dip. When I first loaded the game, I thought it was about to crash and while it was fine (for the most part) once I got into the action, the dips were infrequent but still there.

Level Design

The levels can feel chaotic and disorganised at times, even considering its roguelite genre. Despite the random layout, games of this genre have found a way to create some continuity. Take our Best Nindie Nomination Hades as an example; Supergiant Games have managed to create a roguelite with an isometric view that allows the player to see most of the playing field in each room. SYNTHETIK's topdown view makes it difficult to discern what's around each corner and with each level feeling the same, it gets old quickly.

Story / Personality

Upon booting up the game, you are introduced with a short rundown of the plot. This is done by still screen images with dramatic text over the top. Without leaning too heavily into comparisons, SYNTHETIK's plot reminds me of a little known film series, you may not have heard of it, it's called The Terminator! Man goes too far, robots become too intelligent, cyborgs desimate the planet and lay waste to any human that comes into their line of sight. It lacks originality but for those who grew up with the classic 80s action movies, the nostalgia would be nice.

Graphics / Art Direction

The SYNTHETIK series seems to have been designed with PC in mind from the ground up as some objects and indicators are a little tricky to see in handheld mode. Regardless however, the game has a clean look and its models are sharp and varied. Despite each level looking almost identical to one another, it's still pleasant to look at and sets the rustic post-apocalyptic sci-fi motif well.

Music / Sound Design

The soundtrack is fast paced and edgy, but nothing that hasn't been heard before. It gets the blood pumping and the sounds of the weapons are nice and weighty but overall, it comes across as generic and like it'd been sampled from a royalty-free website.

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Final Score: 65%

The SYNTHETIK franchise has a lot of love from a niche crowd on Steam and there's certainly a lot to delve into here with the Ultimate edition. While it may miss the mark on a few occasions whilst steering into the cliche skid, it has a charm that may come across as nostalgic to many. However in a year that has seen so many incredible roguelites, such as Hades, Heroes of Hammerwatch and Neon Abyss, SYNTHETIK: ULTIMATE is a difficult game to recommend when there's either much better out there or if you're beginning to get burnt out on the genre.

Thank you for checking out our SYNTHETIK: ULTIMATE Switch review, thank you to Game Drive-NL for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: