LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse

A Tale of Synapse: The Chaos Theories Review

Game: A Tale of Synapse: The Chaos Theories
Genre: Action, Platformer, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on PC)
Developer|Publisher: Souris-Lab | Tesura Games
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price:  UK £13.49 | US $ 17.99 | EU € 17,99
Release Date: June 30th, 2021

Review code provided with many thanks to Tesura Games 

A Take of Maths and Science

A Tale of Synapse: The Chaos Theories is a 2D puzzle platformer that treads into territory few developers dare to. It attempts to make a fun video game by mixing in puzzles based on mathematics. Now I was pretty into Math’s when I was younger but can Math’s and video games mix together to form a unique gaming experience? The short answer is… yes the long answer is the rest of this review.

LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse
You caught me reading

You play as Nero, a neuron on a quest to journey into the depths of the prismatic realm and remove the evil entity within. But Nero is not alone. A little floating fella called Sci is also at hand to help save the realm, as well as save some trapped neurons along the way. What this essentially translates to is save the day with the power of Maths and Science. It’s not your everyday plot. I’ll give it that. 

LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse
Often the solution is more simple than it appears

Platforms and Puzzles 

The game’s main hook is its mathematical puzzles. Dotted throughout every level are scenes where you need to solve equations and crunch the odd number in order to progress further. This is achieved with the help of your companion Sci by moving blocks about, balancing scales, creating shapes and flicking a lot of switches. If you get stuck you can push a button to get a hint but you only get one.

Often I wasn’t actually stuck on the part of the puzzle the hint helps you with, but instead I was stuck on the mechanics to solve the puzzle. I think it’s here that I came across my biggest niggle with the game. I often knew the solution to a puzzle (and usually it’s easier than it might appear) but I didn’t understand what the game wanted me to do to solve it. So what sometimes happened is I just randomly moved shapes, balls or played with numbers and the barrier blocking the way opened, not exactly learning much in the process. 

LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse
Let’s solve this with Math’s and not fists


But it’s not just puzzling. There are a plentiful amount of baddies roaming around the levels to take out. When you destroy them they drop an orb. Collect enough of these and you can spend them in a skill tree upgrading various abilities which really only benefit combat and not assisting with puzzles. You also don’t seem to die in this game. If you get hit the enemy forces you to permanently drop orbs hampering your ability to upgrade.

I think I would have preferred if my character just died as opposed to losing experience but it does mean you don’t need to restart at checkpoints. Well, not unless you run into bugs like the time I got stuck in a wall and an enemy consistently attacked me until I quit back to the main menu. 

LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse
Do the Math

Control Woes

The controls are when things become a touch fiddly, particularly with Nero. Often Nero would double jump when I didn’t want him to and combat with enemies felt more of a nuisance than enjoyable. In fact, I kinda felt like combat could have been totally removed from this game and not a lot would have been lost, since it feels more of a fiddly barrier to the next puzzle than adding the enjoyment of the game.

Sci your floating friend generally controls well. Still floaty but since they are used to move blocks and see the world from a different perspective it was not a big deal. 

LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse
Not sure I’d sleep this high up

Math’s Never Looked so Pretty

The graphics are very delightful hand-drawn sprites. Who would have thought you could make a game based around mathematics so artistic. Levels look like beautiful paintings with numbers and symbols worked into the background. But the levels also feel very alive with animals roaming around and running water.

My favourite moments of this game were just taking in the art style. To accompany this you also have a calm piano-based score. An appropriate theme as you use your mental prowess to solve the puzzles.

LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse
Enter another dimension for hints


The game also features co-op. At any moment another player can drop in and play as your floating companion Sci. The problem here is that your flying friend is not on the same level as the main character Nero. At least not to begin with. The pattern that we found usually happened is one player was playing while the other watched. I handled the platforming and combat. Whilst my co-op partner (and wife) handled the puzzle segments whilst I offered commentary on how to solve them.

As you progress through the game the support character does unlock abilities to help in contact but we still found there were many segments where one player wasn’t doing a lot. This may not be a problem for some folk but if you’re both looking to get engaged in the experience expect to spend time watching rather than playing. Despite my critique, it’s still great to see developers include co-op. 

LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse
Two brains are better than one

Slow and Steady 

You get plenty of Math’s for your buck here. This game is long, clocking in over 12 hours alone though I imagine most of that time might be spent thinking things through. The game feels most suited to people looking for a thought-provoking puzzle experience.

I found it best enjoyed in small bursts. I will be honest, after a rough day of work I wasn’t always in the mood to play a game like this. If you are looking to switch off, this probably isn’t the game to do that. Regardless though this is a very unique experience that does its own thing standing out significantly from the usual sea of platformers.

LadiesGamers Tale of Synapse
One of the rare games where you defeat a boss with numbers

Conclusion – To Sum Up

A Tale of Synapse: The Chaos Theories is most certainly a unique puzzle platformer. If you are looking for a slow experience that is different from the usual formula then I most certainly recommend giving this a chance. You don’t need to be a Mathematics expert to enjoy the game but you do need to use your brain and think things through. I felt the combat segments felt a little forced and it would have fared better as a more Zen-like puzzle experience. Regardless this is the best video game featuring Mathematics since Math Rescue on PC. 

Final Verdict: I Like It

I like it

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