Syndrome – Review
Follow Genre: Survival horror game
Developer: Camel101
Publisher: Bigmoon Entertainment, RedDeerGames
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Syndrome – Review

Site Score
Good: Immersive atmospheric soundscape
Bad: Blurry visuals and frustrating interface
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

It’s been a while since we last looked at a first person survival horror game and that’s not because we aren’t fans of the genre, but simply because there simply isn’t a lot being offered these days. Even the subject of today’s review, Syndrome on the Switch, is a port of a PC game that’s nearly six years old. If you’re a Switch owner in particular, it’s clear that it’s slim pickings, so hopefully Syndrome can fill that survival horror gap in your library. But how does it hold up?


If you’ve ever played a survival horror title, then Syndrome’s premise will feel instantly familiar as it borrows heavily from familiar tropes. The opening scene sees you wake up on a seemingly abandoned, derelict spaceship, called the Valkenburg, with no recollection of prior events. You’ll need to find other survivors and figure out what happened. Naturally, this is easier said than done as the ship is now infested with mutated abominations and you’ll have to deal with them to stand any chance of survival. Soon enough, you also discover that you are, in fact, not alone on the ship, as you are able to communicate with two other survivors, James and Neomi, -but their information about the entire ordeal conflicts. Information -and thus story- is mostly delivered through radio communication with the two other survivors, with the occasional short cutscene thrown in for good measure, making for a semi-realistic and cinematic experience. Who is telling the truth? Who can you trust? And perhaps most importantly: will you be able to get out of this situation?


We weren’t fans of Syndrome’s visuals because of one very simple reason: it looks blurry. Granted, the blur is never so bad that the game becomes unplayable, but it’s still distractingly noticeable. This doesn’t apply to the menus and in-game subtitles, which are sharp, so we have to wonder what went wrong here. Perhaps this was a misguided attempt to hide that the visuals aren’t all that impressive, as the models for enemies and characters look dated and janky but the dark lighting already hides a lot of visual ruggedness. Despite this, there are still visual glitches regularly, such as arms floating around without the rest of the character models or enemies that get stuck and then repeat their animations ad infinitum.


With music only used when necessary, most of Syndrome’s soundscape relies on environmental sounds to create a chilling atmosphere. This works well enough, as there is continuous background noise, which makes sense as you’re traversing a derelict but still operational spaceship, and the game also makes great use of enemy sounds to make you feel trapped and surrounded. We highly recommend playing this one with headphones to fully immerse yourself in the audio. There is also voice acting, and the cast does a great job in bringing their characters to life.


The feeling of familiarity doesn’t just apply to the game’s story setup: Syndrome is a fairly standard first-person sci-fi survival horror game. It doesn’t innovate on the genre, nor does it bring anything new to the table but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because what’s on offer here is solid. There are the ubiquitous puzzles involving key cards, of course, which are a staple of sci-fi survival horror. There is the ever-expanding arsenal of weapons, which ranges from basic tools like a wrench all the way up to various guns. There’s plenty of backtracking, and there’s the ever-present threat of the mutant enemies that swarm the ship. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before but there is a reason why these tropes are so commonly seen, and that is because they work for the genre.

Granted, if you’re just hoping for an all-out action power trip, then this isn’t going to be the game for you. The pacing of the game is deliberately slow, with it taking over an hour before you need to deal with your first combat (and Syndrome is only about 6.5 hours in length). You’ll also quickly learn that overpowering enemies with firepower isn’t the way to go: enemies will soak up bullets and both food and ammunition are scarce. Stealth is the key to survival and if you’re simply looking to blow monsters to smithereens, we suggest booting up Duke Nukem instead. As you’d expect, Syndrome provides quite the challenge as a result. Various enemy types have different attack patterns, and you’ll need to figure these out in order to survive. There are enemies that can’t hear you, for example, but if they spot you before you can take them out, they’ll kill you in a single hit. Finding each enemy’s weak spot or how to best avoid them often involves trial and error, so you’ll probably end up dying a lot.

We suggest that you pick up the habit of saving regularly, as there are no checkpoints or an autosave function implemented here, so if you screw up, you’ll have to revert to your previous manual save. We did encounter a glitch when it came to using saves however: while you’re navigating the game’s menu to save, the game doesn’t pause and as such, enemies are able to attack you while you are doing this. This is also where another issue with Syndrome comes in: the interface is awful to navigate. We’re not sure if this also applies to the PC version, and your mileage may vary when using mouse and keyboard, but scrolling through the inventory with the analogue sticks is frustrating and feels very laggy. It’s a bit of a shame because the core gameplay loop is enjoyable enough, so the extra degree of polish would have easily elevated Syndrome up to a game that we’d recommend to more than just genre enthusiasts.


If you’re a fan of old-school survival horror, then Syndrome is definitely worth looking into. It doesn’t break any new ground, and does exactly what you’d expect from the genre. Granted, it could have used some more love when it comes to the visuals, and navigating the interface is annoying on the Switch, but the dreadful atmosphere and stealth survival gameplay make up for that. If you’re not familiar with the genre, or if you’re simply not a fan, then Syndrome isn’t going to be the game that will convince you of the merits of survival horror though, so we’d only recommend this one to anyone that already knows what they are getting here. No matter what category you fit in though, we would recommend waiting for a sale, as the $24.99 base price is too steep for what you’re getting here.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Syndrome - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.