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SYNDROME is one of those frustrating games where you haven't a clue what's going on or what you are supposed to be doing when you first begin to play and then as you get further and deeper into space little light bulbs start flashing and ever so slowly things begin to come together. It is presented by Bigmoon Entertainment and Camel 101

The basic premise is that you, Trent Galen, wake up on a space craft  the "Valkenburg" (rather like the original Alien movie), being dazed and confused because, you assume, of the effects of your long cryosleep.  You call out for your team but no-one replies nor can you hear anything that sounds like teammates working or even just going about their usual business. You (the player) have no knowledge of the ship's layout and so it is natural for you to begin to explore. Finding computer screens where the "E" key can be pushed to operate you continue to meander through the pipe-lined passageways and soon begin to fall over the dead the bodies of your friends.

There appears to be no-one controlling the ship and the engines aren't running, leaving the ship to drift slowly and aimlessly towards ..... ? Also leaving you, as far as you can ascertain, you alone on the ship with who or what killed everyone else - why weren't you killed as well ? that's for you to discover.  The "Valkenberg" has one of the most advanced systems available to the Novacore company and was used for exploring space and performing scientific missions - now it could very well be your tomb, a floating metal coffin filled with horrific mysteries and puzzles that you have to solve if you are to survive.

You need to search the ship and discover what happened to the other members of your crew and do whatever is necessary to survive this nightmare. Naturally you begin without any weapons or means of defence, but then you don't have any idea what you need to defend against. You can locate weapons but as usual ammunition is at a premium so wasting shots isn't a particularly good idea.

FEATURES

● Claustrophobic horror: The action takes place inside a spaceship. There are countless horrors inside, both physical and psychological. 
● Fight or hide: There are weapons on the ship, but not enough ammo to take everyone out. Use them wisely. 
● Engaging storyline: Nothing is what it seems. Something very bad happened aboard the ship, and it’s up to you to find out what’s really going on. 
● Reactive enemies: They’ll follow noises and investigate any disturbances. 
● Interactive scenario: There’s plenty of exploration to do inside the ship, and many things to discover.

  

Unfortunately the game takes a while to get into its stride and the plot takes rather too long to materialise into anything interesting but the enjoyment of playing is not the story, which unfolds with each new terminal you find and every message you receive, but the fear factor and atmosphere that develops as you continue to play. It is the alone-in-the-dark syndrome, the usually somewhat illogical fear that something is just around the next bend, only this time that fear isn't illogical.

The game is played out mainly in the dark which allows tension to build with every passageway, corridor and flight of stairs. Each time you go round a corner you expect something to jump out and do "BOO!" or a heavily clawed hand to reach out of the darkness and clutch you by the throat; the possibility of a laser blast or similar doesn't enter your thoughts, your mind has already taken care of the logic and left behind the illogical fear of the dark.

  

To begin with I found Syndrome interesting because I was baffled. It was fun taking each passage, going along in the dark waiting for a hotspot to show itself (it didn't), and rushing towards each and every console in the hope that "E" would bring forth something new into which my teeth could sink in my hopeful search for freedom and survival (or survival and freedom). Then after a long while of going round and round and up and down and following dead ends (that's a pretty silly thing to say because you don't actually follow a dead end you follow the passage and it ends; dead!) my interest faded and dread turned to lethargy. Once I found the enemy, horrific robots of a sort, combat ensued (well I had to locate some weapons first) but it soon became obvious that fighting them was not the ideal solution and I soon realised that sneaking around and past them was the only way to go.

Despite my being somewhat occasionally negative in my commentary and the lack of any real or major surprises I believe there is more than enough hours of investigative and paranoid gameplay to keep lovers of the horror genre entertained and edgily amused before they reach its conclusion, which isn't actually unsatisfying (it's just a very ong time a-coming - at least it seem like a very long time).

I am one of the few people that I know who watched Alien the movie for the first time and didn't get what everyone was raving about. All I saw was a dark film set kept deliberatly ill lit to prevent the cracks and seams from showing and so that the director could get away with just about anything because no one could literally see it coming. In SYNDROME we aren't kept quite as much in the dark as the crew of the Nostromo but for me although it is playable it is also too similar.

  

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Windows   Mac OS X
    MINIMUM: 
    • OS: Windows Vista 64-bit 
    • Processor: Core i3 / AMD A6 2.4Ghz 
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM 
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 / AMD Radeon HD 5750. OpenGL 3.3 
    • Storage: 9 GB available space 
    • Additional Notes: If you are using a game controller, you need to plug it before launching the game. Only Xbox One and Xbox 360 controllers are supported. Others controllers might not work.
    RECOMMENDED: 
    • OS: Windows 7 64-bit 
    • Processor: Core i5 / AMD FX 2.4Ghz 
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM 
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 / AMD Radeon HD 5970. OpenGL 3.3 
    • Storage: 9 GB available space 
    • Additional Notes: If you are using a game controller, you need to plug it before launching the game. Only Xbox One and Xbox 360 controllers are supported. Others controllers might not work.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015