Frozen Synapse is an intricate, turn-based tactical game that will leave you frustrated or deeply enthralled. The frustration aspect is actually a partial compliment, as the learning curve is a steep one. PC users are already familiar with its complex nature, and now it's available for iPad enthusiasts. Is Frozen Synapse is a worthy download? That ultimately depends on your patience.
Whether you're entering multiplayer mode, the single player campaign, or a randomly generated A.I. battle, the game's goal is to navigate your squad and have them defeat the enemy. The key is to outwit your opponent by accurately guessing their movements while deploying your own tactical maneuvers. Don't expect to simply tap a fire icon in the direction of your target and expect a victory. Most battles are by hiding in plain sight and striking at the opportune moment. Starting Frozen Synapse without going through the tutorial is not the smart thing to do. Learning how to move each of your units is more complex than simply touching and tapping the screen, so sit down and watch a few videos before starting any kind of firefight.
Your squad are the green units, with the red team serving as the enemy. Each turn covers an estimated five seconds worth of action, and within that space you can choose a bunch of moves, including ducking, hide behind a blue wall for cover, or most importantly, finding the perfect angle to take out your opponent without getting killed in the process. Hiding behind walls don't work for units aimed with rocket launchers, however, so expect a quick death if an explosion occurs within your radius. Though the mission starts from a God's eye point of view, you can zoom in on your soldiers by using two fingers on your iPad to get a closer look at the skirmish. The red splatter marks unfortunately belong to my squad.
With the availability of multi-player mode and the chance to challenge players online, Frozen Synapse has a ton of game play options to consider. If playing against your friends or random strangers is not appealing, the campaign mode, which delves into the game's Matrix inspired story, is the best way to go. Entering a quick A.I. skirmish is best if you need just a few minutes of tactical goodness. Don't expect any easy kills, as the A.I. is a worthy opponent. Several hours into Frozen Synapse, my only easy encounter had my squad taking out a group of unarmed technicians in campaign mode. So if the bad guys are carrying any type of weapon, expect a dogfight.
Frozen Synapse requires a bit of time to adequately pull off a mission, since learning all of the squad's commands and finding a strategy that works just doesn't happen within minutes. The more discerning gamer will appreciate the challenges that bring this title to life. For $6.99, Frozen Synapse is more than a worthy download, and the electronica infused score that accompanies the action is also first rate. Just have a little patience and hopefully these missions won't feel so impossible.
App Store Link: Frozen Synapse for iPad | By Mode 7 | Price: $6.99 | Version: 1.0 | 354 MB | Rating 12+