Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Ends Today is a moody, cynical point and click adventure game set in a world in which humans struggle to survive after a strange catastrophic event engulfed the Earth and destroyed everything we hold true and sacred. The main protagonist, Michael, is an amnesiac who wakes up with no memory of what transpired before his “rebirth” on the new Earth. Human civilization has regressed into a dog eat dog, survival of the fittest system where the military elite prey on the weak, smugglers profit off the misery of others, and the newly devout try to make sense of all things. The mystery and story is interesting and intriguing though it does have a tendency to get a little preachy. Unfortunately, when you reach the slap in the face ending, any positive feelings and inclinations towards the game dissolves faster than the game’s victims.
Having lost his memory and knowledge of a cataclysmic event called the Great Wave, Michael awakes in a trailer owned by a couple whose son suffers from a illness that has become a common occurrence in this new world. The illness manifests itself initially through confusing visions of the past and telepathic communication before reaching its horrible conclusion: the victim’s metabolism goes into shock and breaks down, turn them into stinky piles of brown goo. Michael’s host begs him to find a cure for the illness, which sets him on a dark adventure punctuated by violence, cynicism, and barbarity. The game doesn’t shy away from showing humanity at its worst, from trigger happy soldiers and unscrupulous informers to rapers and black market smugglers. Michael will be called upon to do some terrible things to advance his goals and while he seems like a nice enough guy, his actions show the lengths people will go to do what is needed. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true in Michael’s case. Though he shows a genuine interest in helping people, that help is mostly a means to an end. In one example, Michael gives two children the means to take revenge against their father knowing full well what will happen to them. In another scene, he allows a mentally disturbed girl take on her captors in a violent fashion instead of trying to lift her out of her situation. To make things worse, he just leaves the poor girl to wallow in the aftermath of her actions. It’s bold to make a game in which there are no heroes and if you’re like me, you’ll grow to despise the character you command.
Dead Synchronicity has all the hallmarks of a classic PC point and click adventure. You’ll talk with different people that drive the narrative forward by providing the means to complete tasks that have been asked of you. Goals have a tendency to get a little convoluted over time because a simple request for an item often leads to multiple branching paths that add hurdles to your path. Nothing is ever easy in this world so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the in-game journal to help keep track of the current objective. Sometimes these paths lead to interesting places and people while others seem arbitrary and trite. To have to go through so many hoops to get a one use item feels like busywork.
The wasteland Michael lives in is bleak and full of woe. The Great Wave has reshaped the landscape, turning cities into metal husks and the outlying areas into blasted deserts occupied by horrific refugee camps. Dead Synchronicity achieves the majority of its horror through its visuals done in the style of a graphic novel. The refugee camp is a decaying ghetto, the city (which is forbidden to visit unless you’re military or an informant) is a urban blight of twisted metal, shattered glass, and megalomaniacal soldiers. One of the more disturbing locations in the game is Suicide Park, a place littered with corpses of those who couldn’t go on. Adding to the malaise and unease is a synth soundtrack that completes the overall atmosphere.
Structurally, the game is fine. It does everything you’d expect from a point and click adventure. The game’s script has its fair share of concerns. There are moments when Michael, after having witnessed or participated in some level of brutality, has a tendency to wax poetic about the human condition and its propensity for violence in the face of societal collapse. These asides have a tendency to sound self-righteous and too self-serious to be taken any more than at face value. Michael’s delivery of his lines feels forced and badly edited in spots. Things get much worse in the game’s final moments. The story is kind of like Twin Peaks: it kicks off with a major event (a murder, or in this case the Great Wave) and the story eventually evolves into something more important than the event the kicked it all off. The game doubles down on the plight of the Dissolved, the derogatory name given to the victims suffering from the disease. But then the game tries to explain the Great Wave’s origins in such a way that creates confusion because it is a convoluted mess. The massive exposition dump comes out of nowhere and introduces a twist that players likely figured out long before. The biggest crime, however, is that the game ends on a bullshit cliffhanger. I came away feeling that mostly everything that came before this moment no longer mattered, that I was playing through a prologue to the game’s true story. When the title card came up after the twist, I was left feeling pissed and grossly unsatisfied.
If Dead Synchronicity sounds intriguing (it did to me when I first heard about it), playing the game should be done at your own risk. This game has no ending. The conclusion is thoroughly unsatisfying and because I have no idea what the future looks like for this game on the platform, I’m at a loss to offer much in the way of a recommendation. I don’t see this as a big enough seller on the PlayStation 4 to warrant a second game though it’d probably do better on the PC, where games like this have a supportive (if niche) audience. I really wanted to like the game because of its mature, oppressive depiction of an apocalyptic aftermath. The game is unfinished, though, so I suggest sparing yourself from the same pain and frustration that hurt this otherwise interesting narrative adventure.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.