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Lunch Freebie: Synermous

Our free game of the day is a weirdly beautiful multiplayer exploration of life, color and death.

By Cassandra Khaw. Published 9 months ago

Update: Bad news, folks. The beta is over. We'll let you know when the official release pops up! In the mean time, why not explore the developers' website?

Synermous is either a clever statement about the transience of life, the value of relationships and the permanence of one's bad decisions or a delightful experiment with new technologies. I suspect it's both. Most likely both. The developers call Synermous a 'massive anonymous online experience' and, you know what? That's exactly what it is.

Instead of prompting for a name or feeding you a tutorial, Synermous opens with darkness and then a trinity of unexplained words ("Birth. Death. Trace.") The darkness will eventually retreat and you'll be deposited into what appears to be a digital version of the Northern Lights. Your avatar in Synermous is a small white square, tiny and vulnerable looking amidst the shifting colors and the other denizens of this colorful place. The controls are simple: you direct your angular persona by clicking anywhere on the screen. In a manner mildly evocative of thatgamecompany's Journey, your manifestation in this world will occasionally call out: a tiny, radial pulse of sound to intermingle with the ambient music.

Though it begins without much explanation, the rules aren't too difficult to puzzle out: black squares are bad, white squares are good. What's interesting here is that the black squares are not NPCs but are, in fact, 'ghosts' from the past: the leftover echoes of some player's previous explorations. And the white squares? Real players. Not mindless automatons.

I'm going to keep the rest of it under my hat. Part of the appeal of Synermous lies with the joy of discovery; you're not going to like it terribly much if I tell you everything. So, go play it and get yourself some rose hip tea and a complicated vegetarian dish to augment the experience. (Note: this is just a beta and not the real deal.)

Hat tip to @pohungchen

The best community comments so far 4 comments

  • weevilo 9 months ago

    Unfortunate article timing :P Not having a PS3, I missed Journey, and this looks pretty interesting.

    It's odd how unsocial most MMOs are, at least in my experience. Outside of guild activities, other random players are obstacles and annoyances, or at best temporary tools to get a quest done, and nothing kills immersion like reading a global or trade chat channel. I loved how in Dark Souls you could click on the blood stains on the ground to see a ghostly reenactment of another player's recent death (though some of the warning signs on the ground were a bit immersion killing). These types of mechanics actually get you to stop and think about how other players are experiencing the same thing you are, and though you're not directly interacting with someone via voice or text, you're much more aware of the presence of other players. There are a lot of cool ideas yet to be explored with online games and anything that moves us away from typical MMO mechanics is a welcome change.

  • cassandrakhaw 9 months ago

    @weevilo I know! I think I might have gotten a little too used to betas that last at least a weekend. T_T

    Fair warning, however. It's mildly similar to Journey, but doesn't follow an identical format. *flails her hands* For example, you encounter a lot more people here: it's possible to end up in communes built out of 9-10 squares at a time. However, there's no actual way to communicate. If you turn the wrong way, your group might split apart and you might be left in the ether alone. In those moments, it kind of engineers that desperate sense of longing for the other individual you get in Journey, sometimes. You reach out. You rush after them, hoping they haven't disappeared.

    *coughs* End tangent.

    Definitely agree with that. I tend to play on RP servers exclusively in MMOs for that reason. I'm more of a PvPer/raid junkie but I enjoy that vague sense of connectivity that comes up when you walk into a city and have people, you know, interacting.

    Have you read much about WildStar, incidentally? I recommend checking out the Settler path.

  • elsieparoubek 9 months ago

    "Beta ended".

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