I never got to play the first Frozen Synapse, but the turn-based military tactics based gameplay has always intrigued me. The game always seemed very reminiscent of the pre-mission planning stages of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear, which I was always a huge fan of. If you are unfamiliar with the original Frozen Synapse, it is a “simultaneous turn based strategy game” developed by Mode7. The story of the original game’s story mode comprised of 55 campaign missions with narrative mainly told through mission briefings.
The sequel has taken on a grander scale, introducing an open city overworld in which competing factions move in with their own self-interests, battling other factions, taking over areas of the city etc. However, the turned based tactics gameplay remains essentially the same. You order your strike team individually around a map, positioning them and trying to predict enemy movements in order to eliminate them using a mixture of luck and tactical thinking to defeat the opposing team. The faction mechanics and open world nature is a nice little addition on top of the Frozen Synapse formula, but that’s not to say nothing in the core gameplay is changed. In the planning stage of your orders, you now have the ability to fully command the enemy soldiers before confirming your orders. This is a fantastic new feature as it allows the player to test various possible outcomes of a set of orders before you end the turn and the enemy makes their move.
While some people might be turned off by the minimal pure mouse driven HUD and very simple aesthetic, I appreciate it. The graphics are functional and gives the impression of being in a command room, giving tactical orders from some blacked out van through a satellite feed. The visuals have also had a slight upgrade to make the game more visually interesting, the added light effects and bloom are a small addition but make Frozen Synapse 2 infinitely more pleasing to look at. However, the bloom on the units can be a little overbearing when trying to see exactly where they are facing.
Having been a while since I played a tactics game on PC, I was dreading the amount of options or hotkey memorization that I would need to remember in order to simply clear a level. I am happy to say that Frozen Synapse 2 strikes a wonderful balance between offering enough depth to be a solid military tactics game and being manageable enough to not require pages of tutorials and a few hours of play in order to grasp. The mixture of drop down menu tactical options and click and draggable options all feel extremely intuitive, being able to drag in order to direct the field of view and extend action wait periods on turns so you can time individual unit actions precisely every turn.
When I went into Frozen Synapse 2 I went in hoping for a more refined variant of Rogue Spear‘s pre-mission tactics section, and I’m happy to say that’s what Frozen Synapse 2 delivers, with some wonderful extra open world tactics mechanics on top that do nothing but make the game appeal more. If my friends on Steam are in any way representative of the PC gaming populous, a lot of people who picked up the original game in a bundle or something similar still have it sitting in their Steam catalogue unplayed. I would try out the original game if you like the sound of anything written above, I know I will.
Frozen Synapse 2 can be expected to arrive later in the year with no announcements regarding what platforms the game will be available on.
As pointed out in the comments, the ability to control the enemy units in movement planning stages is not in fact a new feature in Frozen Synapse 2. The person demoing the game with me either made out that this was a new feature or I misheard them. Apologies for the mistake.