3 people found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 1.5 hrs on record
Posted: Jul 2, 2021 @ 11:37am
Updated: Jul 2, 2021 @ 11:37am

Let’s start with some AP Bio - A synapse is a point where electrical and chemical nerve impulses are transmitted in the brain. Think of it as two things communicating with one another. This is the basis of ‘A Tale of Synapse – The Chaos Theories’, a wonderful puzzle platformer that melds art, with science and maths-based logic. It’s an indie like no other.

In the game you take control of Nero and Sci. Nero is controlled with the left stick and Sci with the right, when required. Nero is a synapsian that can attack enemies and jump around the levels; in some ways, he reminded me of Ori from Moon Studios’ games.

Sci is an airborne character who can move around the screen and pick up objects to help solve puzzles. Controlling both characters at once is surprisingly easy, but most puzzles require you to use them one at a time. And if you’ve got a friend, and second controller handy, you can get those synapses working together in co-op.

Where the game excels, is in its puzzles. The world is filled with mathematical problems and equations to solve – in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Things start off pretty simple: a locked doorway blocks your path; a basic sum is written on the wall. You have to control Nero and hit a switch the right number of times to select the answer and open the door.

Later puzzles feature geometric shapes, fractions, and algebra. Sci quickly gets the ability to see an alternative reality. By the press of the button, the screen turns orange, revealing hints to solving many of the game’s conundrums. It’s an educational lesson, for sure, but a beautiful, and fun one, at that.

A recurring theme in the game is duality – things communicating and working together. This can be seen through the two protagonists, the two-player co-op and even the two plains of reality. I’d argue that the game world is symbolic of the brain and by solving the puzzles and connecting with other characters, you get those synapses firing. It really is clever stuff!

‘A Tale of Synapse’ is challenging, but never impossible. Solving puzzles require logical thinking, a close examination of the environment, and, occasionally, trial and error. And if you are struggling, there’s a handy hint system to put you on the right track. Coming from a literary background, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the mathematical elements, so don’t be put off if maths is not normally your thing. It really is an indie gem for everyone. Plus. you’ll come away from it feeling very clever!
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