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Video Game / Frozen Synapse

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You might think I'm a crazy idealist; of course I am! Only madmen can point out the cracks that society has developed.

So, here's the thing: there's a system called the Shape, a virtual reality that sprang from communication systems, and there's a company, Enyo: Nomad, that uses it to control everything, from the media to the economy to the government to every citizen in the city of Markov Geist.

In this dystopia, you are Tactics, a being called for help by Graham Nix, leader of Petrov's Shard and former head of Enyo:Nomad. Petrov's Shard is the Resistance group that calls for Enyo:Nomad to loosen their control of the city and the shape. They refused, and now you're leading Petrov's Shard's humans and vatforms to battle against Enyo:Nomad. The opposition you face is incredible, and will require tactical skill bordering on outright prescience for victory to be achieved, especially once you come to face the shapeform who controls the armies of Enyo: Nomad, Charon's Palm.


Or you could just forget about all the story and jump headlong into the Multiplayer mode.

Frozen Synapse is a Cyberpunk simultaneous turn-based tactics game developed by Mode 7 Games. In this game, you and your opponent control a group of soldiers wielding various weapons with the goal to wipe the other side out. Your job is to plan and simulate the movement of both your troops and enemies' troops. Be warned, though; the enemies are doing the same as well, and one mistake could lead to the death of your single-HP soldiers. Each turn, be prepared to adjust your meticulously thought-out plan.


The tropeforms are deliberating...:

  • Artificial Stupidity: Left to their own devices, the Vatforms have no survival instincts and only know how to shoot what's in front of them. Micromanagement (on top of your predictive powers) is necessary for any progress.
  • A Taste of Power: The first time you see a special combat unit, it is swiftly commandeered by the enemy and forced to leave the map.
  • The Atoner: Nix shows a lot of this, especially after the broadcast.
    • You could interpret yourself as this, after the panarchs start killing the innocent people in the chapel.
  • Badass Boast: There are a few of them, here and there in the game.
    Creed: Inevitability will triumph. The war you are about to start, the death you will cause; that will cave in under the force of inevitability.
  • Barrier Warrior: The Red DLC adds Riot Shield Vatforms who can generate impenetrable walls in front of them when they're standing still. Great for stopping shooters and messing with the enemy AI's aim.
  • Becoming the Mask: Soulsby notes how she might have started doing this a bit after you rescue her.
  • Color-Coded Armies: The default colors are green for your units, red for the enemy, and yellow for friendlies.
    • You can also customize those defaults to your liking. The background and walls are unchangeable colors of blue, but the Red DLC gives the option to change those to red.
  • Cloning Blues: Vatforms are organisms cloned from humans. They have very limited cognitive function.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Early on, you get a mission where you are forced to slaughter as many defenseless engineers as you can within the time limit.
  • Cyberpunk
  • Deadpan Snarker: Shand does this every now and then, but Belacqua is the master of this trope.
    Nix: Of course you would respond now, you only respect military force.
    Shand: I also respect good tailoring, but I'd hardly expect that from you, old boy.
    • Later:
      Shand: Oh come on Nix, this is a joke. We have superior numbers!
      Belacqua: But inferior hairdressing.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: At one point, Enyo:Nomad launches a surprise assault on the base of Petrov's Shard. After defending the base for one very long turn (50 seconds, the equivalent of 10 normal turns), you find out from Charon's Palm and Shand that Soulsby was shot dead by a sniper while trying to escape Markov Geist.
    Shand: Why didn't you save them? Charon tells me you were busy doing what you were told.
  • Elseworld: The Red DLC is based on a simple question: What if Dillinger had joined Petrov's Shard?
  • Escort Mission: Despite any amount of dakka fired their way, the unit you escort will refuse to move at a speed any faster than a brisk, refined walk.
  • Every Bullet is a Tracer: For the sake of player convenience, enemy units that haven't been spotted can be approximated by the trails made from their shots (whether from guns aimed at your own units or rockets being fired).
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Charon's Palm lampshades this to Tactics, someone who it describes as "functionally temporal, and your talents are in demand", in the opening scene.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Right, so your opponent just fired a rocket launcher and hit a seemingly unimportant section of wall. Enjoy the moment of triumph that you just evaded death by rocket, and then enjoy realizing that this section of wall was blocking another enemy unit's line of sight to your unit's off-guard rear end.
  • Fog of War: A variation thereof found in Dark matches - you can see any terrain unobscured, but enemy units are invisible unless you can see them. A gray, "ghost" version of the enemy unit is created at its last observed position, which can be given commands and manipulated like any other unit.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Played straight for bullet-launching weapons, but not for explosives. Interestingly, the bulletproofing seems to affect all units (friendly, enemy, or neutral) except the specific one that the vatform is presently shooting at.
  • Grenade Launcher: Less explosive than the rocket launcher. Also, bouncy - its main draw is the ability to fire around corners.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Much of the game can turn into this depending on the player's skill and paranoia.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The campaign-only Devastator: a kind of rocket-launching vatform that can fire up to five rockets every single turn, and run as fast as a Shotgun-vatform. Fun to control, terrible to fight against.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Your squad is firmly nailed to the ground. Vaulting or jumping over half-cover, of which there is plenty, is not an option; you'll just have to make them walk around it or blow it up.
  • Interspecies Romance: One of the first lines that appear in the ticker is this:
    TEK: Shapeform Council petitions to allow Human/Shapeform marriage
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Belacqua.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Belacqua usually is.
  • Literal Split Personality: Tactics is part of Charon's Palm, who split itself in two in order to have a Worthy Opponent.
  • Mega-Corp: Enyo:Nomad
  • Non-Entity General: Tactics controls Petrov's Shard's forces via the Shape and never has any physical contact with the other characters. Soulsby later realises that she can't even remember a single specific thing Tactics has ever said, leading her to deduce that he/she/it is a shapeform.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Nix vs. Shand.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: All units are killed by a single hit, though pretty much every unit type in the game would be expected to kill people in one hit. The closest to an exception is standard rifle soldiers, who, depending on range, often end up exchanging a ton of bullets between each other before one of them gets lucky and hits the other.
  • Precision F-Strike: Delivered by Charon's Palm in the ending:
    You are me.
  • Puzzle Boss: The final missions offer two in a row: first, you have to defend an area that you attacked and captured in the previous mission against the units you had using the same tactics you used in that mission: in other words, you need to figure out how to defeat yourself. Next, you have to capture a point in the center of a heavily defended area, guarded by a huge number of vatforms that consistently follow a very precise geometric patrol pattern. The latter one takes some metagaming to beat, because you have to capture the point within 10 turns, and you'll need at least five to see the whole cycle of the enemy's movement. Solution? Watch what they do, lose the mission, and retry when you can see a way to punch through.
  • Robotic Reveal: Tactics is a shapeform.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Shotgun soldiers will only attack enemies that are very close to them, even though the pellets look to fly at least as far as rifle bullets do.
  • Take Cover!: There are two kinds of cover in the game: high walls, which are perfect for shielding and concealment for people on both sides, and low walls, which only cover full cover and concealment if the unit behind them is crouched. Units shooting over a low wall are generally less likely to be hit than those who are shooting without cover (Hint: a vatform with a rocket launcher can blow up low walls if it is crouched).
    • The RED DLC adds a unit who has one specific function: To provide an angled wall for you to shield your units and/or bounce grenades off of.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Vatforms have very simplistic default programming: they'll shoot at any enemy unit they see within range (and they have No Peripheral Vision), regardless of circumstances. Make sure you are EXCEEDINGLY precise about what you want them to do before you hit the launch button. Also see Escort Mission, above.
  • Victory Is Boring: The reason why Charon's Palm created Tactics.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You WILL feel it every time one of your very fragile soldiers dies.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Quoth Belacqua:
    Belacqua: They [the vatforms] cost a fair bit, so don't go suiciding them into enemy shotgunners and then giggling. Trust me, I can tell if you're giggling.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    Creed: You have allowed the Panarchs to murder men and women. This was done deliberately by you. You think you had no choice at Nashar and at Stexis? This is the illusion of Distraction. We all have choice in our lives.