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Added to the lair: 9/15/18

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure / 3rd person

Developer: Vicarious Visions

Year: 1996

Platform: DOS

Emulator: DOSBox 0.74

Wikipedia: Synnergist


It's another dog day at the New Arhus Chronicle

Synnergist is a very strange and interesting game. You can tell it was made with a lot of heart and probably more passion than talent, but the propensity to reach beyond their means gives it a certain charm too. From what I can gather, the project began while brothers Karthik and Gula Bala (founders of Vicarious Visions) were still in high school, and remained in development for 5 years; and I can believe that because it feels like a wide-eyed enthusiasm-addled student project both for better and worse.

The acting is cheesy as hell (seemingly a literal after school special at times) and it's not always the prettiest game to look at, but underneath it there's a story that's more interesting than you might expect. Things start in a relatively mundane manner but spiral into the weird before long, and there are quite a few twists before the end. You play as Tim Machin, a young journalist for the New Arhus Chronicle (in the cyberpunk future of 2010 of course) under the gaze of a scummy, vindictive editor who isn't too keen on handing out any particularly interesting assignments... until now at least.

There's a lot of creativity on display here, even if not all of it works. I'm a cyberpunk and "good" bad movie junkie, so this might be more my own idiosyncratic tastes talking than a reflection of objective reality, but somehow it just manages to work for me; even though it's kindof a mess. The writing is juvenile at times (okay, a lot of times) and you can never really escape the feeling that you're witnessing some strange creation of people that don't exactly know what they're doing... but that didn't stop me from having a smile plastered across my face and more than a few chuckles over the course of it. It's just this weird, off-kilter, curiosity that's worth checking out just for the sheer oddity and campy charm of the thing.

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