Indie games come in all shapes and forms, but while many offer creative designs and experiences to those who are willing to look for them, just as many can be a bit derivative of old designs. That isn't the case with Frozen Synapse, a game that could be shoehorned into a "chess meets Rainbow Six" description although that doesn't do it justice.
This game does something more than just mix existing genres: it encourages a new form of strategic and tactical thinking.
When you've run your nightmare scenarios and think you've accounted for most possibilities, that is when you prime a turn. And usually that's where see your plans reduced to ruin as the enemy does exactly those things you didn't account for. That might sound frustrating and it often can be, but it's the good kind of frustration. The kind that makes you go "Damn, how did I miss that?" rather than it make you go "What? That's bullshit."
Missions are randomly generated up to a degree, which means no restarted mission will play exactly the same. While there are a few exceptions where the majority of a map is the same whenever you restart, randomized unit positioning makes it feel novel enough that old plans that worked before can't be used again.
The things that really make Frozen Synapse shine on the long term are its multiplayer component and game editor. Because it's still a turn-based game, don't expect multiplayer matches to be very fast. But, your opponent's over-thinking notwithstanding, the game's modes do allow for quick matches (i.e., less than 10 turns). Each player plans his or her actions, and after both players send in their actions you can load the result. This approach also allows you to play one game over a number of days whenever you have time, or to play multiple games at once.
Multiplayer modes are one on one affairs where the goals can be plain old killing, escorting hostages, or gaining and keeping territorial control. Each mode has a Light and Dark variant which either shows all units on the map all the time, or only shows them when they are in your line of sight.
THE VERDICT - Frozen Synapse
Reviewed by Maurice Tan
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