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SYNTHETIK: Legion Rising Review

SYNTHETIK: Legion Rising
Fire Flow Games

Created by the AI servants of the gigantic Kaida Corporation, the global leader in robotics technology, the Machine Legion has one goal—the total annihilation of humankind. Manifesting the human consciousness of an ancient android prototype, you have awakened within the Kaida Corporation’s Headquarters. You must ascend through the headquarters, level-by-level, and face off against battalions of robotic enemies in order to prevent the all-out slaughter of life on earth.

When I’d first read the succinct backstory to indie, top-down shooter, SYNTHETIK: Legion Rising, I thought it sounded a bit like the Terminator plotline where the good guys go back in time in order to prevent Skynet from becoming sentient. Only in this game, you’re hitting an already sentient AI right within their home base, hopefully before they can unleash their synthetic hell on earth.

Players must take on the nefarious, mechanized masses of the Machine Legion while attempting to ascend the generated levels of the Kaida Corporation Headquarters. While SYNTHETIK may look like other 2D, top-down shooters, but if you think it is, boy, do you have another thing comin’.

Firstly, there is no running and stabilized shooting here. This is a game that encourages you to master the art of gunplay. If you don’t it can quickly turn into a rather brutal affair that will see your avatar getting perforated in roguelite fashion. In SYNTHETIK, movement plays a huge role during battles—staying still may steady your aim, but it also makes you an easier target. Conversely, moving around hinders your aim appropriately and makes it that much harder to hit your enemies.

On top of that, it also has a super cool reload mechanic. You have to manually eject each spent cartridge out of your weapon platform and also manually reload it. If you had some rounds left in that last ejected cartridge, you can say goodbye to them for good. To up the ante even further, you’ll experience some periodic jams that will often cause some serious “Oh s***” moments.

There have been many times when I got the drop on a group of metal menaces, jumped out from behind some cover, heard that all-too-scary “click” sound, and thought: “This isn’t going to end well.” The gunplay present in this game reminds me of some of director John Woo’s best bullet ballet flicks, such as “The Killer” and “Hard Boiled.”

Fortunately, there are plenty of armaments to go along with all of these spectacular combat mechanics. SYNTHETIK features 94 base weapons, most of which are available in 20 different variants, like Recoil Stabilized, Heavy, Relic, and so on. If that’s not enough, you can also outfit your weapon of choice with all sorts of attachments and ammunition types. The possibilities are almost endless.

There are eight classes present to choose from: Riot Guard, Sniper, Raider, Engineer, Breacher, Assassin, Heavy Gunner, and Demolisher. As expected, each of these classes have their own individual strengths and weaknesses. For instance, the Riot Guard can equip a shield that increases its armor, but only performs well with lighter weapons and moves slowly when donning the shield. Meanwhile, the Engineer (my personal fav) can utilize different types of drones, has passive ammo regeneration, and can deploy things such as turrets and traps, but has reduced stats.

The wide array of enemy types that populate the levels of the Headquarters mean that you’ll have to constantly change up your tactics. While conventional rounds are weaker against shielded foes, armor-piercing ones are more effective. Particularly powerful enemies can be whittled down with the smart use of acidic rounds.

All of this variety means that no two run-throughs are ever the same and you’ll experience new challenges all of the time. Oh, and did I mention that there is a full-on co-op mode available? The possible synergistic tactics that you can develop with a friend can be akin to reaching a sort of shooter nirvana.

The small, German, indie developer team, Fire Flow Games, has really crafted a beautiful little gem in SYNTHETIK: Legion Rising and the know it. They’re constantly updating it so you can tell that it’s really a labor of love. Its blend of brutal challenge, wide variety of play styles, and attention to detail when it comes to gunplay, makes it a true standout. Simply put, I don’t mind dying over and over again just to savor it meaty shooter goodness.


SCORE: 73%

SYNTHETIK: Legion Rising has some pretty good looking graphics that make its shooter gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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