Fictiorama’s debut foray into the gaming space is one of sound artistic vision.
Dead Synchronicity is best described as a motion-comic adventure game set in a dystopian near-future. Players take on the role of Michael who awakes in a nightmarish world of oppression and desperation with no memory of who he is or where he came from. The storyline has Michael solving situational logic puzzles (a trope of point and click adventure games) to further the search for his memories and to help provide both Michael and the player with details regarding the new world and why life seems to be deteriorating at a rapid pace.
The first notable thing in the game is the visual aesthetic. Bold lines and strokes mark somber expressions and downcast faces, while subdued browns, reds and grays fill the backdrops. There has never been a more desperate set of characters and locations. The “old world” has been torn down by a catastrophe of unknown origin, marked by a tear in the sky which seems to be unraveling threads from the tapestry of reality. People are falling ill to a mysterious sickness. Those afflicted are referred to as the “dissolved” since they quite literally melt to death. Without giving too much away, it’s up to Michael, a man with no memory, to regain his former self and find the truth behind the “dissolved” and the militaristic government’s research.
The gameplay is very typical of point and click adventure titles, with the cursor moving Michael through pre-rendered environments and being the conduit through which players can search each area for interactive elements or clues to puzzles. My only complaint with the gameplay is that it isn’t always clear what is an interactive piece and what is just scenery. Items are highlighted and easy to spot, however interactive elements like a car door or lamp post blend in with the rest of the art. It’s up to the player to perform methodical sweeps of each screen, taking careful note of each named piece. The only HUD element is a battered briefcase in the upper left corner of the screen which houses all of the items Michael finds on his journey, as well as a notebook that updates with information on different objectives.
The game doesn’t shy away from confronting some rather brutal themes like prostitution, rape, murder, mental disorders, and gruesome and graphic deaths. In other titles, the inclusion of those themes might come off as an attempt at “edginess”, but it feels right at home (as much as it can) in Dead Synchronicity’s “new world”. It definitely goes to some dark and harrowing corners of the inhuman psyche.
The only thing stopping this game from achieving a truly impressive score and engagement with its audience is the vocal work. Michael’s voice acting is passable at best, however each other character does very little to add to the experience, and in some cases actually detracts from it. Apart from the voice overs however, Dead Synchronicity has provided the gaming industry with a much needed unique perspective on loss, desperation, and a post-apocalyptic setting. Adventure game fans can get their hands on Tomorrow Comes Today on April 10th.