Developer: Radi Art
Release Date: July 27, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Top Hat Studios
Genre: Visual Novel
When your favorite movies are Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner, anything with a cyberpunk theme is probably going to catch your attention. The Radi Art developed Synergia takes us to a future that is desperately trying to hold onto its humanity while still evolving technologically. This dynamic sets the foundation for a thrilling visual novel experience that I wasn’t expecting.
Synergia introduces us to Cila, a cop who doesn’t play nicely with her superiors and often comes off emotionally removed from her colleagues. She has an interesting personality since she often feels lonely, but doesn’t really have the urge to hang out with other humans.
At home, Cila has an android named Elaine, who she interacts with and is consistently trying to make it less-human by removing features from it. She’s done this for a while now to the point where the android is almost a blank slate, and the day comes where it breaks down.
Cila contacts an android dealer who hooks it up with a newer model android named Mara. Once Mara arrives at her house, Cila notices that she is unlike any other android. This sends Cila down the rabbit hole of figuring out where Mara came from and more about what this company named Velta is developing.
Cila is a decent main protagonist, but her complexities in dealing with human interaction seem to waiver. When it came to Elaine, she was continually removing features up until the android broke. However, with Mara, she just let her be herself and never tried to make her lose what made her unique. It was as if she was annoyed with Mara, but just put up with it instead of trying to change her. This ends making sense later on in the story, but I still felt bad for what Elaine had to go through. Regardless, I really liked Mara, and her and Cila’s growing relationship flowed naturally with the narrative.
The plot has a subtle role out of information that comes in chunks as the characters speak. Some of these moments can be pretty overwhelming with text boxes full of exposition, but then instead of leaving it in the text, the story finds a way to show you how much humans fear losing control over the androids. Controlling this fear happens to be Cila’s job, which allows us to see both sides of the battle. Still, she doesn’t seem to mind working outside of the law from time to time, which makes her unpredictable to the point where I never felt like I truly understood her motives until the moment that she did something.
Synergia features a choice system that affects Cila’s relationships as well as the endings of the game. The choices are tough because they branch at moments that sound interesting to watch play out. I think getting through a few of them is beneficial even if the outcome isn’t what you wanted. This is a game where you’ll want all your questions answered, which doesn’t entirely happen, but there’s nothing wrong with leaving some elements open to interpretation.
There’s a fantastic supporting cast here that moves the narrative along when Cila is being overly self-deprecating. Conversations between characters make it seem like everyone is walking on eggshells. It’s as if they each don’t know what the other is capable of, so the flow of dialogue is full of tense awkwardness.
This also stems from the Cila not being completely trusted within her company, and once the thread begins to unravel, even more doubt enters her mind. The state of the world justifies these moments of tension. Questions such as, “You wouldn’t ever have sex with a robot…would you?” or, “How do you feel about this situation?” come up often when there is only one answer since the other is against the law.
The art in Synergia will probably catch your eye the moment you boot up the game. Each of the character designs has this cyberpunk aesthetic carried by an impressive color palette. It’s a setting that you don’t mind being a part of as the developers chose to include a lot of CGs that show what the characters are doing instead of only using static illustrations. If that wasn’t enough the synth soundtrack makes each scene event better as it reflects what is happening in dialogue.
One thing that I didn’t like was how it was sometimes difficult to know who was talking. It didn’t help that a few of the character avatars looked similar. Also, I encountered a few errors in the text, but they didn’t hinder my ability to understand the story at all.
Synergia is excellent for any fans of cyberpunk thrillers. Getting to understand the nuances of this world and the clash of humanity and AI as the lines blur between their differences was a great experience. The illustrations and supporting cast only complement the joy of following the relationship of the main protagonists. There’s a few moments of overwhelming exposition and confusing plot points, but it all leads up to a satisfying conclusion.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.