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Video Game / Syndrome

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Syndrome is a Science Fiction Survival Horror game by indie studio Camel 101 (a team of 3 core developers and a few additional programmers and artists for assets and music). It was released on October 6th, 2016 for PC through Steam, then ported to Xbox One on September 29th, 2017 and to PS4 on October 6th, 2017.

An engineer named Galen wakes up from Cryosleep with no idea of what happened. His ship, Valkenburg, is eerily quiet. Soon, you discover something terrible has happened. There are corpses everywhere, the robots have gone hostile, and the remaining crew went murderously insane before somehow being converted into horrific killer cyborgs.

You need to get off this ship, and you also need to find out what happened and what you're up against. Careful, though. The ship is packed with murderous cyborgs, so pick and choose your battles wisely. And when you can't fight, sneak.

Syndrome contains examples of:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: You can sneak around in the vents.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Plenty of little digital logs can be found throughout the ship.
  • Body Horror: The fate of many crewmembers as the result of cybernetics that were forced onto them. In particular, some have thick cables going through their permanently open mouths, while their right arms were replaced with buzzsaw-bearing attachments. Others have only kept their heads and torsos, with their arms, legs and necks all getting replaced by bulky and incongruous machine parts.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: You have to cut off a dead officer's arm and later in the game one's head to get past a couple of security scans.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: You'll periodically find cheerful messages written in blood, such as "Crawling In My Mind" and "We Are All Dead".
  • Crouch and Prone: It is possible to crouch in order to avoid making sounds and thus avoid detection by the monsters (especially important in the areas populated by powerful, yet blind, cyborgs), but it also slows the main character down a lot.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: In the end, Neomi is killed fighting the cyborgs, Jimmy turns out to be evil and their leader, and you blow up the ship and yourself to kill Jimmy and stop him from assimilating an approaching human colony.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: One of the enemy types is fully clad in red spacesuits, complete with gas mask helmets.
  • Guide Dang It!: The melee combat in this game is deliberately clunky and unintuitive, to create tension and incentivize stealth or usage of your limited firearms ammo. It is possible to reasonably consistently defeat the basic enemies using melee without taking damage, but doing so requires learning the game's very specific melee timing.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: You can eat food to regain health in this game.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One dead body can be seen impaled through the heart on a long pipe.
  • Invisible Monsters: A handful of cloaked Elite Mooks cyborgs appear to be locked in the officer's quarters section of the ship. You end up letting them out when you go there to retrieve a keycard. You first encounter one of them killing one of Neomi's marines while invisible.
  • Killer Robot: In addition to the insane, murderous, cyborged crew, the ship also has berserk maintenance robots on board who won't hesitate to kill you. Though there are a couple dozen maintenance robots standing around in a depowered state all over the ship, only a handful will actually activate and attack you when you get close, leading to a healthy dose of paranoia.
  • Late to the Tragedy: By the time you wake up, the ship has already become home to a host of psycho cyborgs and killbots. According to the first computer terminal you find, the crew of over 450 is all dead (or at least no longer human) except for yourself and 9 other crewmembers. You only interact with 2 other survivors, Jimmy and Neomi, but you also encounter a dying engineer in engineering and the remaining survivors are likely Neomi's marines (some of whom you witness dying to the monsters as you progress through the game).
  • MegaCorp: Novacore, the company in charge of the ship, and which was responsible for the tragedy by demanding they carry an artifact that ended up driving the crew insane and turning them into monsters.
  • Optional Stealth: Stealth is pretty much necessary when you have to get past the blind cyborgs, since they are by far the most durable and dangerous monster type. Otherwise, the detection ranges are inconsistent and the stealth movement is so slow, that it is rarely viable, especially since the ship doors will automatically open as you approach them, the sound instantly attracting all of the monsters you just tried to sneak past.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The red spacesuit crewmembers have glowing red eyes beneath their masks to indicate that they have turned.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: Resources such as health and especially ammo are very rare on the ship, and you have to use them sparingly and intelligently. You'll find more than 15-20 health syringes throughout the whole game, but only about 6 clips of ammo for each of your 3 firearms, which isn't even close to being enough to kill every enemy in your way. The blind cyborgs in particular are designed to soak up more ammo than you have, requiring you to stealth around them.
  • Save Point: These appear in the form of wall-mounted devices into which the Player Character inserts his arm.
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: The game is more non-linear than its inspiration, System Shock 2, as you have access to almost 70% of the ship immediately after the prologue. However, some areas and decks are still locked down by power outages, keycards, etc., and there's not much point to exploring most areas of the ship until you're given an objective to go there.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: Even though this is the future, and humanity has managed to achieve interstellar travel, it still cannot create flashlights that would last longer than a few minutes before requiring a fresh power source.
  • Throwing the Distraction: You can pick up bottles and throw them to distract the monsters with the resultant noise. However, if you walk too close to a wall or some other obstacle while holding the bottle, it can easily shatter prematurely.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: After Jimmy and Neomi spend the first couple of chapters telling you not to trust the other, Neomi lures you into a trap when she realizes you're reactivating the ship, rationalizing she has to kill you to stop you from interfering with the military lockdown. This puts you on Jimmy's side by default. Then a couple chapters later, Jimmy betrays you and reveals he was the leader of the cyborgs all along, which eventually puts you and Neomi into an Enemy Mine situation.
  • The Unfought: You come into conflict with Neomi and her marines about a quarter of the way through the game, but you never actually encounter and fight any of them. A few of them are seen dying while fighting the monsters and Jimmy convinces you to flush the rest into space.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: Most of the crew has suffered this, with implants grafted onto them in a frequently horrific manner purely so that they would make for more lethal opponents.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Distant and corrupt owners of a spaceship demanded that they transfer a mysterious, and clearly dangerous artifact, and now the entire crew have turned into monsters, and it's up to a plucky engineer to deal with the problem? Hello, Dead Space! (Also, Virus, which predates Dead Space by almost a decade) Like in that game, Syndrome also features a male and female character (fellow engineer Jimmy and commando leader Neomi) who communicate with Galen over the comm links, and both regularly bicker and warn the him not to trust the other.
  • Wrench Whack: Your melee weapon is some kind of very clamp-like wrench.