Halloween is just around the corner and gamers are looking for a few scares. With this in mind, it would seem that Syndrome is a game that has appeared at just the right time. Trapped in a space ship that appears to be infested with monsters, does it have what it takes to be scary? We’ve seen a few futuristic horror games that focus on stealth and limited combat in order to survive so Syndrome feels a comfortable game to start with. Similar to Alien Isolation, at first there isn’t much in the form of combat, but there is plenty of atmosphere.
Syndrome is commendable for its dark style (very dark) and atmospheric sound effects, from the get go the tension is high. There are plenty of hints that there is something out there in the ship, and something has gone wrong. The story for the game is provided through tablets and computers that offer messages stored within, and some surviving crew who want you to take their side in the battle against whatever has taken over the ship.
If you’ve played horror games like SOMA, Dead Space, Bioshock, and Alien Isolation you’ll feel at home here. Syndrome is a game that feels like it wants to be Alien Isolation, while standing out on its own in terms of the story. To some extent it does manage this, but the problem I had with it, is that there are many things holding it back.
Some of these things are the sluggish nature of the melee combat, when you need it. Waving around your weapon in the hope of fending off a monster can often work, but other times you will find yourself overpowered. When the creatures are after you and coming in packs you can flee, but the confusing nature of the ship design can have you lost quickly, and finding yourself in a dead-end. In the games defence though, this would be a scenario that could happen in this kind of scenario.
The missions you have to take are interesting, but sometimes they can feel a bit like you are ticking off a checklist which has you running around the ships. With the different levels of the vessel available you’ll be picking up an access card on one floor, to open a door on another, then going back to the previous floor to finish the task. All the time you’ll be running the risk of being discovered by the creatures that you are trying to hide from.
While this does give you the ability to enjoy the atmospheric corridors and ventilation systems of the ship, sometimes it can be somewhat of a chore when you are trying to make progress. If this is something that you find fun, then it may be your thing. In the end though many of the scares that could be waiting for you fall a little flat instead.
While Syndrome does have many things that are holding it back, there is also potential in there that could be polished up with a few patches to make things easier for the player. We may not see that happening, but at least you’ll feel that you didn’t waste your time with this game, it just could have been a better experience.
Syndrome is available on the PC now.