For me, its standout feature is a game mode that almost feels like a throwaway addition. Simply called One Turn, it offers the bite-sized tactical fix you might need.
One Turn is exactly what you’d expect there. A random level with two of your units and two enemy units. Exactly one turn to kill the bad guys. The thing is: these are not computer-controlled bots. Instead, another human player has meticulously planned their countermove. It’s just like the game’s regular multiplayer mode, but distilled to its very core.
At the end of the turn, you’ll be ranked against all other players that played that very same round. I don’t think there are any rewards except for the feeling of being a top tier tactician (or, more likely, of sucking a lot at Frozen Synapse 2). But quite often, that’s enough.
Regular multiplayer matches are more of a commitment. Thankfully, matches are played in turns, and you don’t have to finish them in one sitting. Turns consist of a planning phase, after which, both you and your opponent’s moves will be resolved simultaneously.
Not only can you move your pawns around, you can also project the enemies’ movement. This leads to lots of situations where both players try to anticipate their opponent’s move, looking to outsmart them. This is, quite simply, brilliant, and has you agonizing over the smallest of details.
It’s basically the same old system from the original game with a few gameplay refinements, and it still holds up. My 60+ hours in Frozen Synapse have mostly been spent in multiplayer matches, and I hope this one will entertain me for quite a while as well.
And of course there’s the new single player mode which offers an open-world scenario. You’re tasked with pushing back against an invading force of bad guys who are intent on taking over your city, and you can approach this however you see fit. There are tons of missions to be found, and you can help different factions to ensure their support.
This all feels a bit overwhelming, but I am slowly making progress. In any case, this open approach is a nice change of pace from the first game’s linear story, which had quite a few difficulty spikes along the way.
Whether you want to sink your teeth into the campaign, climb the multiplayer leaderboards, or dip in for “Just One Turn”, Frozen Synapse 2 has got you covered. It is a brilliant, stylish game that will have you wracking your brain in all the best ways.
You can purchase Frozen Synapse 2 from Humble, GOG, and Steam for $29.99 (or $35 if you decide to pick up the excellent soundtrack along with it). For more information about the game, visit its website or follow developers Paul Kilduff-Taylor and Ian Hardingham on Twitter.