Since Telltale re-shaped the way we think of adventure games, there has been a dirge of games that have tried to be “dark,” all with varying degrees of success. Games like Tormentum were able to be dark yet fascinating throughout. Others though, end up being laughably bad. Dead Synchronicity falls somewhere in-between. It’s first half is boring and features some absolutely horrendous voice acting, yet the second half ends up having some fascinating ideas that, sadly, won’t be fully explored until the sequel.
Dead Synchronicty takes place in a post apocalyptic world. An event, known as “The Great Wave” has wiped out much of humanity, destroyed much of the landscape and opened a seemingly unexplainable tear in the sky. Your character, Michael, was found near an airport, unconscious and is taken in by a family. Months after The Great Wave, you awaken, hearing voices in your head and seeing the world mutate before your very eyes.
The family reveals that their son is suffering from a mysterious disease that causes people to dissolve into a puddle of blood. They ask you to travel from the refugee camp where they are living into the city, where it is rumored there is a cure.
The first half of the game, as previously noted, is absolutely hilariously bad. Throughout the game, the voice work isn’t great but in the first half it is especially bad. Guards have varying accents. The patriarch of the family, Ron, has such minimal emotion in his voice that you actually feel like the character is reading his lines from the on-screen subtitles.
The voice acting isn’t helped by the clunky dialog, either. For much of the game, the world is referred to as the “New World” and there is a lot of preening about how awful humanity can be. To it’s credit, later the game actually show how messed up this world is, but until you actually see it, it feels like it’s trying to be gritty without anything to back it up.
The puzzles don’t make much sense, either. The first major puzzle requires you to put a lid on a trash can fire, so you can direct smoke into someones eyes. This character could literally turn his head a little to the right and he’d be fine, but instead, the minimal smoke in his eyes ends up allowing you to steal their stuff.
Sadly, the puzzles don’t get much better throughout the game. Many of them require you to use the internal logic of the game, but much of the time, you need to find very specific items that can end up hidden in the environment. Thankfully, pressing the space bar will highlight everything you can interact with. Otherwise, you would easily miss the tooth in the middle of the dark street that you need to hold a Polaroid camera together.
Thankfully, the story becomes far more interesting. As you go through the world, you begin to have to do incredibly dark actions just to achieve your goals. This really starts when a pair of children are accused of murder and you need to cover for them. This single moment changes the way the game itself plays out.
Near the very end of the game, new concepts are introduced that really should have had more expansion. A single puzzle at the end of the game requires you to view the mutated version of the world in order to have an effect on the real world. This concept is teased throughout the game, but only is used in this final puzzle and it is tragic. The developers have stated that a sequel is in the works and hopefully some of these ideas are expanded on.
The major issue with Dead Synchronicity is just how long it takes to get to these ideas. The best parts of this game are hidden behind clunky dialog and terrible voice acting. There is a really cool game behind all of these terrible design choices but for $20, it feels like those issues shouldn’t be the major takeaway after you finish it. The second half is brilliant but up to that point, the issues are almost enough to make you want to quit.
SCORE: 6.5 out of 10
A code for Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today was provided to Pixel Related for review.