Top Critic Average
At its best, Satellite Reign has more in common with Commandos than Syndicate. It's a splendid construct, built to endure and to sustain repeated playthroughs in various styles, but I can't shake the feeling that, minute by minute, a little more chaos and unpredictability would go a long way.
This is cyberpunk! An ugly-beautiful dystopia dripping with atmosphere. Emergent game play and the freedom to play how you want make Satellite Reign not only a worthy successor to Syndicate, but in many ways the superior game.
Through its wonderfully dynamic gameplay which mixes methodical forward-planning with glorious, chaotic scrambles out of dodge, Satellite Reign has taught me that being a perfectionist is actually dull—the real fun begins when you make a mistake.
It's these moment-to-moment planning decisions that really make Satellite Reign a game to recommend and to remember. Eventually, when you've researched the top-flight weapons and your soldier can stand toe-to-toe with entire squads while your hacker turns turrets against the security forces and the infiltrator moves unseen through swarms of alerted guards, you'll get the feeling that nothing can stand against you, and that you've earned every single ounce of your power. But in the early days, while you're scrambling to stay hidden from Dracogenics' henchmen, making the call to pull out with nothing more than a little more intelligence on the layout of an enemy compound to lick your wounds and rethink strategy for the next assault, something really special is happening. Strategy, being formulated in real-time. A surprisingly rare event for a real-time strategy game.
Satellite Reign is an incredible successor to Syndicate that gets more right than not. Where it falls down on bugs and control issues, it shines brightly in aesthetics and fantastic combat mechanics.
'Satellite Reign' truly embodies the phrase "spiritual successor". It is very much a modern adaptation of an older title. That is not to say that it is without innovation or not a good game - far from it. 'Satellite Reign' takes the best parts of its source material and expands upon them with modern tech, creating an intoxicating, thickly cyberpunk strategy experience. The degree of freedom available invokes that special kind of PC game that is all-too infrequent these days.
Digs up a subgenre that hasn't been touched for nearly two decades, turns it around, and aptly demonstrates what we've all been missing out on: a unique tactical stealth-action experience that's at its best when things go off the rails.
Despite the gorgeously rendered city visuals and a goodly amount of text to be found by digging through random data terminals, Satellite Reign's city feel less like a world than a cyberpunk-themed playset. You direct your little squad of action figures around and play as you like, but rarely feel lost or immersed in the setting.
These quibbles aside, Satellite Reign has infiltrated our hearts. It's a handsome tribute to a much-loved game series that also functions as a unique RPG and a tactical combat game. As a revival, it takes its place alongside Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Pillars of Eternity with pride; as a tactical combat game, it runs a close second to XCOM.
"While the cyberpunk atmosphere is great, the gameplay mechanics are solid and varied and the AI behaves interestingly, the combat occasionally feels poorly balanced and you may find yourself grinding for better equipment from time to time. The storytelling leaves a bit to be desired, but is enhanced by reading the in-game logs. Overall, it's a pretty great cyberpunk experience."
A fantastic sandbox for experimentation, yet this framework is not backed up by a rich environment. It is screaming for more involving missions, plots and choices to make you feel like this is a game from this millennium rather than a mere tribute to those from the previous. It certainly does a superb job of revitalising Syndicate for this generation, but it feels like it could be so much more.
Altogether, Satellite Reign is a great experience with a richly-detailed world and approach. While the concept isn't necessarily groundbreaking in a world where games like Shadowrun and the spiritually-preceding Syndicate series have covered much of the idea, it still creates a compelling experience that is unique and well-built.
Satellite Reign offers a very solid set of mechanics and the four specialists are clearly designed to allow players to approach almost all situations in a variety of ways, able to create big gun battles or to always move without altering anyone to their presence.
All taken together, getting through Satellite Reign can be a painful and slow process until you can amass enough tech, skill and firepower to repel waves of soldiers. It wants to be a game that gives you different choices, but the stealth gameplay wears thin so quickly that the game just gets boring.
Satellite Reign had a lot of promise of a cool world, tactical combat, and RPG elements, to potentially make an immersive experience. However, the vast options and choices are overwhelming without an arcing narrative to guide anyone willing to experience it, therefore, all that is left is a world that looks pretty impressive, and with and elements of the game that are fun, but in the end it all feels somewhat lifeless.