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Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today

Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today

 

Developer: Fictiorama Studios The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2015.04.10
Genre: SciFi
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click



 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

There are many great adventure games, but there are considerably less adventure games which have dark adult themes. That is, storylines which by their nature are depressing and desperate, even having apocalyptic proportions. The majority of adventure games tend to be humouristic to a varying degree, even if they would thematically be about more serious matters. Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today is one those exceptions that from the very first minutes looks and feels completely different.

The protagonist is a man who wakes up from some kind of coma or long uncounsciousness when a female voice is calling him and telling him to wake up. The same voice also addresses him as "Michael", but that is all that the protagonist knows about himself. But he knows even less about the world he wakes up in. He is in someone's trailer, in a refugee camp, in a reality that is referred to as the "New World". Apparently there has been something called a "Great Wave" that has changed the reality as it used to exist and the world that exists now is in ruins, but still falling more apart all the time.

Michael, the protagonist.Michael, the protagonist.
The refugee camp is presumably built to protect those who lost homes as a result of the Great Wave, but is operating more like a concentration camp. The military is controlling the remaining ruins of a nearby city, as well as having the camp under their rule - with the help of moles among the camp inhabitants. There is also a growing number of sick people, who are called as "the dissolved". They are people who have visions of different times, can communicate with the dead, but in the end fall into madness and die in a painful and brutal way. Those who are believed to carry the disease will be removed from other people and those who help the dissolved are treated like criminals.

The New World is survival of the strongest. The military is in power and having connections can get benefits that most people don't have. Inside the refugee camp, everything is available for a price. As can be expected, there are no real moral values - some people are trading stolen goods, some others keeping a mentally ill girl as a forced prostitute. The only exception seems to be the man who took Michael inside his trailer and took care of him. He wants to believe that moral values are still worth of something even in the New World, at least for the sake of his son, who is his only reason to live. The son is one of the people with the disease, and in return for saving his life, the man asks Michael to try seek help for his son's condition. Knowing only his name and few basic principles of the New World, Michael must try to find out what is happening, is there a way to help the man's son, and who to trust.

Sad scenery of the New World.Sad scenery of the New World.
The starting point is truly captivating and as the story starts to move on, it gets more impressive the further it goes - at least to a certain point. As usual, it is possible to advance relatively fast in the game by doing only what is needed to get further, but the many conversations that the player can engage in are providing more background information about the New World as well as deepening the level of immersion. There are few cutscenes and some flashbacks or visions, but mostly whatever information the player receives, comes from conversations.

The gameplay is as traditional as point-and-click can be, with collecting items and using them. In fact, already in the second screen it is necessary to steal something for the protagonist's own purposes, which might fit the genre, and certainly fits the gameworld, but may be a bit too abrupt considering what a person in real life would do after waking up in a strange place with amnesia. The puzzles are mostly logical and on the easy side, for more experienced players at least. Unfortunately the game doesn't avoid bad puzzles entirely, but they are not a major problem either.

Strange temporal visions.Strange temporal visions.
The randomness of Michael's logic is somewhat strange and immersion-breaking as well. For instance, sometimes the most likely items a thinking individual would try to carry with, such as tools, are discarded after one use, but carrying items which appear to be random junk for long times doesn't seem to be a concern. Similar randomness also happens with certain actions. The protagonist doesn't start conversation with a reverend, because it would be impolite to do so during his sermon, but the way to get the conversation started is not only implausible, but much ruder than any interruption could be. Similarly, it is so disgusting for the protagonist to pick up dead fish (in a world that is in apocalyptic state anyway), that he refuses to touch them, but interacting with dead human bodies doesn't seem to be any kind of a problem. These things are certainly nothing out-of-the-ordinary in the adventure genre, but still they could be more thoroughly thought out.

Many of the puzzles are backward-designed. Knowing the outcome, the steps to achieve that goal seem completely logical. But turning things around, and trying to get immersed into the protagonist's situation, doing certain actions with no predictable way of the outcome would be the worst cause of action in real life. Especially when those things are done with armed soldiers, who belong to the military that seems to be controlling the entire New World, as far as people are aware of. Of course the game follows also genre traditions by having in-game characters who seem completely oblivious to many things that the protagonist does near them, whether it is stealing items or causing some kind of sabotage.

Interesting conversation in the New World.Interesting conversation in the New World.
While the game starts in a very immersing way, things start to slip and slide towards the end. Plot developments become somewhat predictable, gameplay becomes a series of fetch quests and some of the puzzles could use a lot of improvement. Even with all that, the very strong beginning and general apocalyptic atmosphere do carry the game all the way to the end. And the ending itself is one of the most debated aspects of the game. The ending is something that might be described as open or inconclusive. Many players have felt disappointed with that, although truthfully it probably fits the game better than "all things explained" kind of usual ending. But players who dislike storytelling which doesn't reach a clearly structured ending, are probably going to feel like the story gets cut in the middle - which actually may be happening here, should there be a sequel which continues from the same situation with the same characters. From a certain point of view, it might actually be better to have the entire storyline ending the way it does, as it leaves much room for interpretation and imagination, which is all too rare in most videogame storytelling.

Dead Synchronicity also looks different than most computer games do. Everything is very cartoon-like, stylistically something that might be more likely to be found on the pages of a printed comic book than a computer game. Whether the colour palette actually is reduced or not is another thing, but it certainly feels that way, as many locations in the game seem to consist of only few dominant colours. There are very few animations in the game, but there really is no absolute need to have them much more either. This kind of story might be challenging to tell with a different kind of graphical style, like 3D realistic graphics, but the simplified 2D approach is working like a charm, and whatever shortcomings the game may have, they are not because of the graphics. Whether the reason for the graphical style was to support the story, or whether it was necessary to keep the development costs low, is unknown, but whatever the reasons may have been, the result is different from most adventure games, in a very good kind of way.

A sleazy bar.A sleazy bar.

The game is fully voice acted, including all item descriptions. In fact some of the inventory items have two descriptions, one which is for the item as such, and one slightly different for the same item in the inventory. The voice acting is mostly good, although some minor characters could have been better voiced. Some people have commented that the accents are a random mixture rather than having a clearly identified common accent. This is true, as there are American, British, and other accents being spoken by the characters, but doesn't necessarily make the game any worse. It might even be quite realistic to assume that there are people of different origins inside a refugee camp. The tone of voice seems to be a bit inconsistent, as sometimes the voice acting doesn't seem to carry the same amount of emotion that the lines spoken as such would have. Overall the voice acting fits the game, and other sounds and music are not bad either.

Overall Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today is one of those games that are unexpected positive surprises. Even though the game is not perfect, it manages to get many things right, and offers the kind of an experience that many other games in the genre simply don't have. The apocalyptic setting and dark storyline is not for everyone's taste, but those who can appreciate all that are most likely going to enjoy the game. As an adventure it doesn't offer anything that the world haven't seen before, but the goal here clearly isn't the most memorable puzzle in the history, but a unique and compelling story. The strong story is the foundation for the game, and it is such a solid foundation that the game really can be counted as one of the best games of its own era. Even if one has played loads of adventure games before, playing Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today is still probably going to be a unique experience. You won't find a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle here, but playing the game through will leave a long-lasting impression in its own way.

The door is locked.The door is locked.

 


 

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