REVIEW: ‘A Tale of Synapse: The Chaos Theories’ Is a Mixed Bag (Switch)

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A Tale of Synapse The Chaos Theories

Meet Néro, a peculiar Synapsian who values knowledge and an open mind.  Néro loves the library, and its librarian becomes a father figure to the young Synapsian. This is why, as fewer and fewer Synapsians visit the library, Néro goes on an adventure to help his fellow, close-minded Synapsians understand the power of knowledge. A Tale of Synapse: The Chaos Theories is a puzzle platformer developed by Souris-Lab and published by Tesura Games.

By using the basic laws of the universe, Néro can jump around, overcoming various platforming obstacles and enemies, and solves logic problems to help her fellow Synapsians. Along the way, Néro befriends Sci, a jellyfish-like being that helps her solve puzzles and provides hints along the way. Sci can go into the White, another dimension that allows her to see things Néro can’t and can pick up and move various objects. As the story unfolds, each character learns novel skills as they discover new laws, and players can upgrade these skills as time goes on.

While a single-player uses one thumbstick to guide Néro and the other to control Sci, the gameplay allows a two-player approach by allowing each player to control a single character as well. The gameplay is easy enough on your own that controlling the two characters feels natural without needing an extra player. And more often than not, both characters aren’t needed to move around simultaneously, allowing players to focus on one character at a time if needed.

Players will encounter various logic puzzles. These puzzles ask players to add numbers, balance equations, make equilateral triangles, solve for angles, make parallel lines, convert fractions to decimals, and so much more. It’s a very math-heavy game. But while the puzzles are generally fun, they’re also straightforward. This feels like a double-edged sword. Resulting rarely in getting stuck on a puzzle but also allowing players to brute force their way through each puzzle. It would have been nice to see some harder puzzles, but there is at least a wide variety of them to keep each level fresh and interesting.

The game is visually appealing. There are a total of four worlds to explore, each with its own color palette, platforms, and enemies. The backgrounds are gorgeous. Each stage provides a meld of geometric and natural shapes. But unfortunately, that’s the best part of the game.

The dialogue is hindered by misspelled words, odd grammar, and general awkward phrasing. It’s probably important to mention that I played the game in English. Given that the developer is French, other languages might have a better outlook. But there are quite a few instances where the meaning, impact, or even instructions are mottled by the bad writing.

The plot is hard to follow because of this writing. But also because there doesn’t feel like there’s a clear through-line of thinking. We get a setup at the beginning of the game, but then the hop from world to world just doesn’t have a good explanation. So it’s hard to tell exactly why you’re doing the things you are. And this listlessness very much impacts your motivation to keep playing.

The characters also have a set speech bubble size, so the text size changes based on the amount of dialogue. Because of this, sometimes, the text becomes too small or even occluded by objects. In addition, some objects are very thinly outlined, making it hard to tell if they’re solid. Sometimes the camera becomes stuck and doesn’t move with the characters, requiring you have to restart the entire level to fix it. Similarly, my Switch froze a handful of times, requiring me also to restart the game.

Overall, A Tale of Synapse is a mixed bag. While the art is pretty and the logic-based puzzles are generally fun, the experience is mottled by the bad English writing, the too-easy puzzles, and the occasional glitches that require a full shutdown of the game.

A Tale of Synapse: The Chaos Theories is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC.

A Tale of Synapse: The Chaos Theories
  • 5.5/10
    Rating - 5.5/10
5.5/10

TL;DR

Overall, A Tale of Synapse is a mixed bag. While the art is pretty and the logic-based puzzles are generally fun, the experience is mottled by the bad English writing, the too-easy puzzles, and the occasional glitches that require a full shutdown of the game.