The sound of lateral thinking.
Musical puzzle game Resynth is the debut title from indie development studio Polyphonic LP, originally developed for mobile devices and now available for desktop computers.
Resynth is essentially a puzzle game with a musical backdrop. As opposed to a traditional rhythm game where players have to keep to the beat of the music to some extent, Resynth is a series of Sokoban puzzles, in which players are tasked with moving certain blocks into specific locations within the confines of the playing area.
These blocks also serve as individual components of the overall musical composition; when the blocks are in the correct positions, percussion, bass, and synth elements come together to form a coherent piece of music.
What the player has to figure is how to move those blocks to where they need to be while adhering to the limitations imposed by various obstacles.
Very little is explicitly explained to the player as they begin the game. The majority of Resynth, from beginning to progressively more complex levels later in the game, is figured out through trial and error. While this adds to the satisfaction of completing the puzzles, it can be quite daunting at first.
Which leads to the level design – this is perhaps the highlight of Resynth. While the early stages of the game do a good job of teaching the player the rules, the later more complex levels are indicative of Polyphonic LP’s creativity and understanding of a compelling difficulty curve.
The game’s soundtrack comprises big beat-style loops which are constructed in a way that offers additional context to the puzzles. The soundscape brings some measure of order to the levels, which in their unfinished state can appear rather chaotic. In a way, the music acts as a binding mechanism that keeps everything together while the player mentally deconstructs the levels so that they can plot their route to a solution.
A ‘rewind’ function allows the player to essentially undo their actions should they realise they’ve done something that renders the level incompletable. This is a much-needed aspect of the game’s playability and essential to the learning process.
When trying out the level editor, further appreciation for Resynth’s level design is evoked. Furthermore, it is here that the player can experiment with crafting their own musical beat that will ultimately complement the puzzles that they create. Tweaking where that kick drum hits or for how long the bassline sustains can make a difference to the intricacy of the puzzle’s solution, as well as providing variation to the aural structure of the level.
At the time of writing Resynth has not yet been updated with Steam Workshop functionality but when that’s eventually rolled out, players will be able to share their creations with each other. This will obviously offer more replayability, but also undoubtedly inspire players to be more creative with their own user-generated content.
Whether the player tackles this as a puzzle game or hears it as a music game, they’re both sides of the same record – so to speak. Facing a perplexing, incomplete puzzle can be as jarring as hearing an unfinished piece of music. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming and some might even find it off-putting, but stick with it and the solving of puzzles can be a satisfying endeavour.
Ultimately, Resynth is a nice combination of lateral thinking and musical sequencing. Puzzles don’t overshadow the music or vice versa; in fact, Polyphonic LP has accomplished a challenging harmony of the game’s central elements.
Game title: Resynth
Developer: Polyphonic LP
Publisher: Polyphonic LP
Release date: 27th September, 2018
Available for: Windows, macOS, iOS
Platform reviewed: Windows
Polyphonic LP supplied Gaming Audio News with a copy of Resynth which was used for this review.