Rob v James: Strike Suit v Frozen Synapse

With all the indies on offer this weekend at GMG, Rob and I decided to sit down and have a discussion over a few of the notable titles in the sale. Just in case there's anyone out there who is a long-way off their payday, or only needs a couple of games to tide them over!

Today we're talking about Strike Suit Zero and Frozen Synapse!


James: Since I've never played it, how about we start with you telling me a brief bit about Strike Suit Zero?

Rob: Alright. It's a spaceship game. I played it at Rezzed last year and it was one of the most interesting games at the show.  I think I'd just played Aliens and Far Cry and I was like, what's this anime thing? And then I played it, and it made me happy.  I realise that hasn't explained the gameplay much. It's like Freespace, or Wing Commander, only with a bit of mech stuff thrown in. If you haven't played Freespace of Wing Commander I'm just going to cry right now.

James: Okay so I just googled Wing Commander, and found the Boxart for the third game. It looks like some bizarre Han Solo & Chewbacca spin-off story. No offense to anyone involved on the game at all. I think it's just before my time. The X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter games were good though. I imagine it's similar in the core gameplay to those.

Rob: It was a product of the 90s. A good one. Just like Rebel Assault and X-Wing, you're right. But if Wing Commander was riffing off Star Wars, Strike Suit Zero is probably more like Macross or Gundam or one of those other animes where big robots get really upset. I'm not even that into big robots getting upset as a rule, but Strike Suit really drew me in.

James: I've never been able to get into the Gundam style, which could be what's kept me from Strike Suit Zero. I've found Frozen Synapse's  turn-based strategy of complete paranoia a much bigger draw. It gives you a lot of room to second-guess yourself and think about multiple outcomes to your choices.  For anyone that might not have heard of it, you face off against an opponent, with a small team of men. You take your turns simultaneously and commit to your plan, and then the short sequence of actual time plays out. You can only take a guess at what your opponent will do, meaning you could wipe their team out in just a few turns, or completely fail as your whole team walks right into shotgun fire.

Rob: I guess the reason I prefer giant space robot laser fight (beyond the obvious) is because that all sounds terribly random. It sounds like it relies more on informed guesswork and hope and dreams. I enjoy myself a bit of turn based strategy but if I'm going to play an action game, it's going to have lasers. And the sound, James, did I mention the sound? SSZ's music comes from the guy that did the HOMEWORLD music. It sounds like a mix between Battlestar Galactica and a Mass Effect nightclub and works perfectly with the art style. Talking about art style, I'd like to use this opportunity to point out that my game has textures, which I feel definitely adds to the experience.

James: Music isn't everything though. The OST for Frozen Synapse is awesome, it's great for the tension in every game and not so powerful it distracts you from the gameplay, but the additional sound effects are brilliant in their simplicity. You kill an enemy? You get an operator lady saying "Hostile down." Lose one of your guys? "Unit lost."  As far as textures go, again the power is in the minimalism. It's not trying to be a big display of graphical beauty, it's letting you glide past all that in the favour of the powerful and engaging core gameplay.  Really I'm just saying if people can only buy one, buy Frozen Synapse.

Rob: I'm not all about graphics, for sure. One of my favourite games ever doesn't have any graphics at all, really and another is Minecraft. What I do like is detail. Art style. Thought and direction put into what's going on. It's all about develping context. Minimalism is fine, but I want to know what I'm fighting and where and why. Strike Suit Zero is pretty epic in scale as space games seem to be, and it has a story that follows the campaign and missions where objectives change on the fly.  So definitely spend your hard earned space dollar on Strike Suit. Did I mention is bloody hard? Like, really hard. Not as hard as Dark Souls, but harder than most games, it doesn't hold your hand and it doesn't care if you die, which I k now a lot of GMG peeps will really enjoy.

James: Nothing is harder than fighting other people with actual brains though! They can be downright devious!

Who will win the discussion? We're judging it based on what game sells more on a daily basis, and we'll update this page with a suitable fatality picture!


So what will it be? Frozen Synapse or Strike Suit Zero?

-James