- Simplistic gameplay powered by your personal music collection.
- Once your song is prepared, you can play any of the three modes instantly.
- Could use more feedback or hints on heading in the right direction.
A fusion of Audiosurf and Boost, Synesthetic takes you on a trippy ride through your own music while basing its game around the simplicity of tilting.
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Since music can muster such a visceral reaction in us of like and dislike, when a game comes along that allows us to interact with music, it is usually received favorably. If it's a game like Guitar Hero which has a set track list, the game can be lauded or decried based on if the list resonates with fans of those songs, but games like Audiosurf and Synesthetic, which allow the player to use their own music collection favor much better, also because these games are tied to playable versions of those visualization programs that come with iTunes and Winamp. As long as you don't get motion sickness or have problems with epilepsy, Synesthetic can be an audio visual feast.
The game starts by having you select a song from those on your iPhone. Once that song is prepared, it is playable in three different game modes. Vibe is the default where you just need to avoid hitting obstacles, as that will reset your multiplier and impact your score. Flux is the most game-like of the modes raising your multiplier based on traveling through the same color gates, and making decisions on whether to reset said multiplier to change colors. Finally Wave is vibe mode, just with a harsher penalty in hitting an obstacle, turning you into a ghost for a short period of time. The pros and cons of the game can be discussed in vibe mode so let's go with that.
The path you travel along is reminiscent of Boost, where you're turning along a cylinder of twists, turns, and bombastic colors. In the background you may notice that some obstacles have a black outline. This is the only indicator the game gives for avoiding oncoming obstacles. There's never any indication of which way you should be traveling, and the only feedback you get when you've made a mistake is a bleak sound dampening, which can actually be quite shocking when you start to really get into the groove of a track. The thing is that these mistakes can pop out of nowhere, even when you feel you're following the path indicated by the black outline in the distance. This is only compounded in Wave mode, as often when coming back as a ghost, you'll smack right into something again and spend the song perpetually ethereal.
Overall this doesn't lessen the impact Synesthetic has too greatly. Traveling in this world of vectors, fractals, and neon while grooving along to your favorite songs is a great experience, but as a game, even a simplistic one, it kind of falls short. Even so, if you like music games, this one is well worth the price of admission, and it'll definitely give you a new perspective on your favorite songs.