The most frustrating game you'll want to play this year.
Rouge Contacts: Syndicate is a keyboard smashing good time that will force you to recognize that yes, perhaps you do in fact have anger issues. You play as a sneaky assassin, sort of a cross between Solid Snake and a vague Cyberpunk Ninja. You must break into a secret research facility and destroy the guards located on each level. Equipped with your bare hands, a katana, and some shurikens, you will sneak, run, and hopefully not get shot as you take out the forces hired by Syndicate (the evil megacorporation who has risen to power). The story then escalates to accommodate more challenging enemies and situations.
Rouge Contacts: Syndicate is so frustrating at times, one almost imagines the developers are playing a cruel joke. That's one of the hallmarks of the game though, it's SO difficult that when you finally figure out how to beat it, you feel awesome. The game only offers points as a reward mechanism, gaining points for different ways you killed the guards.
Don't think you can breeze through this $8 game in a single afternoon: each level will take you multiple tries, as you first have to learn the basics, and then build the skills you need to master its mechanics.
Music is slow and atmospheric when you're in stealth, but once a guard is alerted of your presence, a super up-tempo soundtrack is triggered, one that pairs excellently with the lightning pace you're thrown into.
Graphics are nothing to write home about, but the anime style works well. Characters are detailed, especially facial features. Camera work takes a simple, top-down angle that never once leaves you doubting what you might be looking at.
The ultimate gameplay requires very quick, accurately timed motions, to keep you out of the guards firing range. Some of them will run toward you, detonating a bomb that kills everyone around it. These are hard to contend with, but once you learn how to take them down, you can use the bombs to clear rooms of gun laden enemies.
A single bullet from a guard will kill you, and getting killed by a guard through a window you didn't notice, may in fact cause damage to your real life furniture.
There's a locking mechanism you use to make your character continuously face the enemy and assist you with stealth kills. Guards may hear you if you aren't careful, so picking up their guns can help you at times, it may also bring about your downfall. Good news is, the AI is pretty dumb and stops looking for you after a few moments.
The first boss encounter perplexed me.
Two guards that shoot as soon as you open the door. I thought the game was broken. Then I realized: your character moves slightly faster than the bullets, and you can dodge the initial volley. This brings me back to the AI, which gets the job done but is by no means advanced. You can outplay the guards by running around them, not letting them get a clear shot.
It takes some practice to get used to, but once you nail it, the adrenaline rush is one which few games can come up against.
There's nothing like half a dozen guards running around you; trying to get a shot off, yet you and your katana just take them out one by one. Each kill feels immensely rewarding.
One of the biggest things Rouge Contracts: Syndicate has going for itself is the ecstatic feeling of accomplishment after beating that impossible level you've spent the past thirty minutes playing, over and over again. If you have problems finding challenging games, this is your next time sink. You will get caught on a level and “just one more try,” has suddenly turned into 45 minutes of heart pumping action and difficulties. You may want to consult your doctor first before playing this game...
Rouge Contracts: Syndicate is a phenomenally well put together title, that will have you wondering where that dent in the wall came from. For 8 bucks, it provides a challenging and rewarding experience that frustrates as much as it entertains. In sum, if at a first glance this looks at all entertaining to you, know that it will be well worth the modest investment. Anticipate hours of intense rewarding frustrations. Two thumbs up. 8 out of 10.