SYMMETRY Review – (Death Heated)

They always have to be based around a gimmick, something that’s so inherently different, that the developer hopes you can cloud the fact that they’re just Minecraft or Terraria under a different cosmetic, or gimmick. You see it still, with stuff like The Solus Project, Fortnite, The Long Dark, and LEGO Worlds. Here’s something a bit more nuanced, however; SYMMETRY, a title that pissed me off, right from the batting line.

Before we get into that, SYMMETRY is a survival management game from Sleepless Clinic, a Polish team who’s main expertise comes from mobile titles, their best hit probably being The Last Journey. That’s merely speculation however, but it’s the only one of their titles that isn’t a violent game under a cutesy aesthetic. SYMMETRY does have the same premise as The Last Journey, but before I get into that, look at the cover for this game, seen below:

YOU SEE THAT?! You see that asymmetrical stupidity in front of you? It’s absurd, it’s stupid, and I don’t even know why it’s called SYMMETRY. There’s no real symbolism behind it, there’s not an over-arching narrative piecing the whole thing together, it’s called that because, “ooh, it’s a foreboding title, and it adds to the arty-aesthetic we have!”.

Stupid logo aside, the game has the exact same premise as The Solus Project, but on a 2D plane, with a bunch of guys n’ gals on a ship that inexplicably crashes into an unknown planet, that had been transmitting an odd signal. Now, three of your crewmates are stuck together, and must bow down to the god of RNG, as that’s what controls the game from the moment you start.

Before we begin, let me state that I’m not one of those guys that believes every game needs a scalable difficulty that removes all threats in the world, nor am I one of those guys that believes a game is bad, just because it’s hard. There’s a line that can be crossed, however, and SYMMETRY is on the other bloody side of the world when it comes to it. A constant stream of deaths and agony await, and allow me to provide the evidence.

This game is hard. Really hard. Like, brutally difficult, to the point of sheer impossibility. I’m dead serious, this game starts off frustrating and never stops being frustrating. Your three characters will usually have specialities in one of three skills; those being Food Production, Recycling Electro-waste so you can upgrade everything, and Woodcutting, so you can provide heat to the shelter. Yes, even though we’ve mastered FTL travelling, we still have to use a bloody wood stove in order to heat our rooms. Just… whatever.

From there, it’s all about organization, assigning the limited number of people to the forty jobs you have on display. While you can just constantly gather and eat up resources in a never-ending cycle, you also have to make sure RNG doesn’t make you his bitch. You’ve got to look out for the weather patterns, which go from “Pretty Cold”, to “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, SANDRA, TURN ON THE DAMN RADIATORS”. You’ve got to make sure the power planet doesn’t lose electricity, you’ve got to make sure the food production unit doesn’t break down, you’ve got to–

The game relentlessly bombards you with commands, and never stops taking a break from the difficulty, to the point where your three crew members will die constantly. If you lose a single guy, then you might as well restart your save file and try again, because there is no way on God’s green earth that you’ll be able to survive otherwise. The conditions were already annoying enough with a trio, imagine a duo trying to juggle these chainsaws.

It’s not even the fun kind of challenging either, where you take pride in the knowledge that at some point, the heavens will open and you’ll be able to ride from here forth without any struggle. It’s the stupid kind of challenging where if you don’t apply the right person to the right materials at the right time, then BOOM! All of your work will have been for nothing, you pathetic squire.

If RNG decides to be the devilish little twat that he is, you might start the game with three characters that have the overall survivability of a man in a vegetative state. Not to fear! You can always assign one of them to the computer, so that they can read up on their skills and get a higher number of supplies, each time they return from plundering. However, that’s more time wasted with somebody not assigned to a critical objective, and even then, that wouldn’t be too bad if the characters weren’t… so… bloody… slow.

After a while, you’ll also notice that these characters, despite miraculously surviving a crash landing on a new planet, and not having a single injury to account for, they still like to take their bastard time while looking for supplies. Fortunately, you can turn up the game speed to 4x, but I find it hard to believe that this is actually the game at 4x speed. Even under this speed, the characters are still slow as hell, and the already hastily-decomposing food will just go that little bit quicker.

The definite kick to the nuts that this game provides, comes from how quick disposable resources are. The wood you use for that stupid stove is all fine and dandy, but the food disappears in the blink of an eye, and I mean “right after you finish producing a new batch”. I seriously don’t understand where the food is going, and I know for a fact that it isn’t being automatically directed to the crew members who are hungry.

Also, to the guy who figured that you’d have to walk a hell of a lot further to get supplies, before you can grab an upgrade that allows you to traverse the land faster? You’re a twat.

There’s also a story element that I don’t care for. Every once in a while, you or one of the survivors dotted around the map will add some fluff text to the world, implying sabotage within the ship in the first place. It’s alright, it’s well-written, it definitely adds to the overall story, but it’s not very likely that you’ll be seeing the outcomes any time soon.

As for the art style that Sleepless Clinic says “gives the game a feeling of mystery and severity of the deserted world”, I can reluctantly agree. Although a few other games have done it better, and added more atmosphere to the world (Planet of The Eyes comes to mind), SYMMETRY still has some form of intrigue behind its visual design, and I wouldn’t blame you if the bought the game on that factor alone.

I didn’t finish SYMMETRY, but how could you expect me to, under these unbelievably annoying conditions? I get an hour in and all my characters suddenly die, like they’ve got that collar from Battle Royale strapped to their necks. No matter what strategy I attempted, from different game speeds to on-the-spot shift switches, every single playthrough ended in failure.

If the game had gone through the tiniest amount of testing beforehand, or gave me one or two more crew members to fill in the spots while somebody was doing their homework, then maybe I’d care. At the moment, though? You’re out of your goddamn mind if you think this is worth any form of a recommendation.

SYMMETRY is incredibly close to being a fun little title, up there with stuff like Sheltered, The Solus Project and The Long Dark, where you can actually be invested in the characters and explore this interesting land. It’s just so unabashedly difficult at the moment, and cannot be recommended to anyone of sane mind. Sorry, Sleepless, but you need to get a patch out ASAP.

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