hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Indie Nation #10: Synaesthete

4:12 PM on 03.14.2008 // Anthony Burch

Yes, that is the ugliest post picture ever created. Don't let it dissuade you from playing this awesome game.

I've been putting off an Indie Nation article on Synaesthete for a while now, partially because I wanted to chronologically distance it from that time I said it was better than Rez HD, and partially because I'm worried I'll build up your expectations too much to the point where you assume it cures cancer.

Never say never, though: this week I'm highlighting Synaesthete, and I'm here to tell you that this free download is more than worth your time. It won the 2008 IGF award for Best Student Game, and with good reason: it melds trippy visuals, a great soundtrack, and fast-paced rhythm/action gameplay into a title which delivers on the concept of interactive synaesthesia better than any other game I've ever played. 

Crap, I'm building it up too much. Just pretend I didn't say any of that, okay? Go here, download it, play it, and maybe enjoy it. Maybe. It's okay, I guess. Pretty decent. Nothing special.*

*Actually, it sort of is. Hit the jump and see why. 

Since I'm fully aware that the above post pic is hellishly cluttered, here's a gameplay video:

Basically, you use WASD to move around while tapping the J, K, and L keys in time with the music. That's it. The I key activates special powers, but, if you're playing the game correctly, you shouldn't even need them.

Synaesthete is probably one of the most enjoyable indie games I've ever played, and I don't say that lightly: its single-minded focus in combining the rhythm game with a (for lack of a better genre approximation) beatemup is just familiar enough to be totally accessible, while still feeling totally original in its execution. In mechanical terms, Synaesthete doesn't really add anything to the rhythm game genre other than giving the player the ability to move around, but that's somehow enough.

While the player stares at the stream of beats, constantly endeavoring to hit each one, he most also simultaneously dodge wave after wave of neon enemies. At first, it seems literally impossible to both dodge baddies and play the rhythm game at once, after a few minutes of heated play, the combination of the two actions almost becomes second nature. Once you realize that your damage increases depending on how well you time your beats, and how close you are to your enemies, the game becomes even more intense. You see the enemies out of the corner of your eye as you focus on the beats, or vice-versa; your difficulty with the dodging/rhythm gameplay will vary based on individual skill, of course, but after a while the music and the dodging gameplay meld into one cohesive, utterly satisfying experience.


Understand that I was dancing throughout the latter half of my playtime with Synaesthete. Well, maybe not dancing so much as oddly  gesticulating in my chair, but I was still moving to the beat of the music. One might be tempted to call it grooving. Regardless of what you wanna call my repulsive spasms, however, I've never been prompted to make them in any other rhythm game environment outside of the odd Guitar Hero song. I'm not even a big fan of trance music, but the way in which the techno-riffic music complements/serves as the basis for the gameplay somehow got to me. It is very difficult not to at least bob your head while playing Synaesthete

Compared to Synaesthete's, Rez's soundtrack might as well be the Best of Jack Johnson. The songs in Rez never really amped up until the boss fights or the later worlds; Synaesthete's music takes a lot less time to get, as the kids would say, thumpin'. Synaesthete is more fast-paced and fun than Rez. Synaesthete is prettier than Rez. Synaesthete is longer than Rez. I'm sure many who play both games will totally disagree with me on some or all these fronts, but I remain steadfast in my opinion that this little Digipen student game is a heck of a lot better than Mizuguchi's cult classic rail shooter.

There's not much more to say about Synaesthete, save to reiterate that it's really good, really free, and really worth the download. It's fun, it's pretty to look at and listen to, and there are even some goddamn boss fights. Which is awesome.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Shinta avatarShinta
Shinta avatarShinta
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
It's 2am and I'm watching this emulator whiz play Xenia (360 emilator) on PC albeit glitchy This video is hilarious
Shinta avatarShinta
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
The Undertale review section on its Steam page is hilarious! [img][/img]
n0signal avatarn0signal
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
A Nintendo rep gave this to me today because she likes talking to me. I do have lots of the Old AC eReader cards I guess I could put in it... [img][/img]
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I'm still trying to figure out how to do it, but for the most part I like what I've seen of the new blog editor. My first blog post using it should go up tomorrow.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
The demon threat is real.[img][/img]
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Daily VGM #20 (Bonus) - Valak Mountain Night (Xenoblade Chronicles) [youtube][/youtube] This theme perfectly captures the essence of Valak Mountain. It feel serene and calm, as well as mountain-esque (lol).
Lawman avatarLawman
What does one do when MGS V has lost its luster and Persona 4: DAN is growing stale? Listen to Queens of the Stone Age, of course. And wonder; is Steins;Gate worth the asking price? I want it, but not sure if I $30 - $40 want it...
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
Been trying to get Tales Of Phantasia finished before Zestiria comes out... How i'm going to get through that game I have no clue... especially when Exist Archive comes out in December and I have to play that too... also i've still yet to finish Grandia 2
TheLimoMaker avatarTheLimoMaker
Been in a bit of a rut this week and as such haven't really been satisfied with any of my games. Therefore, I'm going to start Destiny again on my new PS+ account. Any tips given the amount of updates it's had?
Bardley avatarBardley
Bought a used knockoff game console called the Power Kracker 2013, which claimed to have 76,000 games. The AC adapter was missing and someone had crammed an off-brand GameCube controller inside the box. I don't know what I expected.
Firuzi Gafrindashvili avatarFiruzi Gafrindashvili
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I actually love the quests in Novigrad where you write a play. It's a fun and lighthearted break from the tragedy of Baron and horror of Velen and the Crones.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I preordered Tales of Zestria and Disgaea 5 because they were £10 cheaper that way, WHO WANTS TO FIGHT ME HUH?
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Man, plague of shadows is gooood. It really fleshes out plague knight and the world by extension, and it has some fun story stuff. Plus plague knight plays differently enough to shovel knight to make whats old feel new again. Deep customization too.
nanashi avatarnanashi
You will be missed. 2001 - 2015 ATHF RIP. ... oh and uh, GET OUT OF MY FREAKING POOL!!
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -