Explore the Meridian with your tamed Nano to save the world from devastation.

By R3GR3T, Posted 11 Sep 2023

NExT Studios doesn’t seem to be your everyday game development studio. Their entrance into the game development is on the more recent side of things, but they have that reality altering ambition that might just land them a top spot in the Hall of Fame. Founded in 2017 and based in good ol’ Shanghai, this studio practically exploded overnight in terms of team size and started their journey with mobile games like San Giorly in their founding year, an interesting puzzle platformer with an addictive twist. NExT Studios did eventually move on to bigger ventures on the PC gaming front with the release of Bladed Fury in 2018. Even though it’s an Indie title, it was still quite well received by gamers based on the positive ratings.

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Fast forward to the present and this brings us to their latest release, SYNCED, on 8 September 2023. SYNCED takes a different approach to several genres and combines them all together. It’s got a good helping of Roguelite mechanics, a pinch of Battle Royale atmosphere, and a gigantic heap of chaotic action mixed together with a great story in an MMO bowl. This might sound like a recipe for disaster, but that’s the beauty in this little slice of chaos, it’s actually great. Granted, it does take some getting used to and it will bite you if you’re not paying attention to the tutorial.

The world of SYNCED is built around the end of its last golden age, last because that’s also where humanity mostly fell. Nanotechnology went through a massive boom and was built to revolutionize the world to make everything possible, This is all thanks to the Shinar Corporation and their Nanites that covered the world. Everything was almost perfect until The Collapse. Those same nanites turned against humanity and started turning those who died into mechanized beasts hellbent on destroying what’s left of humanity. Sadly, Shinar didn’t really care and instead chose to use their power to help those who could afford it to hide high above the nanotech disaster in the sky, leaving the rest of humanity to die on a doomed planet.

Shinar’s original headquarters still stands though, even if it is somewhat sealed off. This extra dangerous land is known as the Meridian, and where you’ll be spending most of your time as a Runner. Runners are the few who still fight to save the world and can tame Nanos to fight with them instead of against them. Aside from fighting against the Nanos to save the world, you’ll also need to uncover secrets and amass enough power to put an end to the Nanos once and for all. However, this is far from easy and the road ahead is filled to the brim with chaos, think you can handle it?

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You’ll start off your adventure as Deadcut, the very first Runner you’ll get to use while you learn the ropes of SYNCED. Right off the bat, you’ll need to find a Primo Nano to tame so it can fight on your side. Prime Nanos shouldn’t be taken lightly though. You’ll first need to take it down before you can Sync up to it, and they can be quite dangerous when there are smaller Nanos nearby who can overwhelm you if you’re not careful. Luckily, you’ll always start off with a weapon, so you’re never unarmed. Your Nano companion is your strongest ally, aside from other players, because it can either give you a necessary boost to your attacks or act as an extra body on the battlefield, doing serious damage where you need it most.

To spice things up a bit, there are 4 types of Nano companions to choose from. The first one is Crusher, a high damage and melee Nano that will quite literally ‘Crush’ anything in its way when deployed, while giving you extra movement and melee damage in Nano Arm Mode. Then we have Suppressor, a bit lighter and built for long range, you’ll always have an extra gun on the field with it nearby. Up next, Guardian, for those who prefer sticking to a more defensive role, and this Nano will give you exactly that with its defensive shield either while deployed or in Nano Arm Mode. Lastly, there’s also Seer, a fun mix of recon and offense with a handy laser to deal some good damage when deployed, or it can serve as a scanner that will detect rival Runners in Nano Arm Mode.

You’d think the Nanos alone that you’ll have more than enough firepower, but that would be a little boring. This brings us to the wonderful world of weapons. You’ll have damn near endless options between Primary, Secondary and Melee weapons to choose from, though you’ll have to unlock them by levelling up your Runner or by purchasing them using the premium in-game currency. Primary Weapons are naturally your bigger heavy hitters like Assault Rifles and Shotguns. Secondary Weapons are your typical pistol and handgun variants. Then there’s also your Melee Weapons.

These add an interesting twist to the chaos since you won’t always have access to ammo and you’ll definitely run out sooner or later. Melee weapons just make it so you’re never without some form of attack. However, SYNCED might have missed the mark with this one. Melee Weapons are great and can deal monstrous damage against smaller Nanos, but they become virtually useless against Prime Nanos, even with an overabundance of Mods.

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Speaking of Mods, this is where the Roguelike side of SYNCED comes in. When you’re out uncovering the hidden secrets of the Meridian and making the world a slightly safer place, you’ll come across Exchanges just about everywhere. Even with your weapons and a Nano Companion, you’ll need an extra edge if you want any hope of survival. That edge comes in the form of Mods that you get from exchanges. With game-changing buffs that can affect you or your Nano Companion, ranging from simple weapons damage buffs to adding extra effects to your attacks, the sky is the limit with how Mods can change things.

The only caveat is that the Mods are random and you’re only given a choice between two at a time. This works great, mostly, except it’s not as random if you can’t reshuffle the random options, and you’ll still get the same options at a different exchange. So, like it or not, you’ll have to choose a Mod if you want new ones. Then, on the other hand, you’ll need Radia if you want Mods. This is luckily easy to get and just involves going on a fun rampage against the Nanos, who will, in turn, drop some Radia.

Fear not, while Mods you get from Exchanges are temporary and constantly changing, you’ll also eventually get to benefit from Runner Mods which stick with you regardless of where you go. Runner Mods don’t give you the same over the top benefits as Exchange Mods, they can still give you a good starting edge in the form of extra Health, Sprint Speed and even weapon damage. This might not seem as appealing, but every little bit counts when you’re going toe to toe with Nanos. That little bit of extra health or damage might just be what takes you over the edge in a life-or-death situation.

For those who get paralyzed with indecision, now would be a good time to flee because you’ll also have several options between Runners and they all come with their own unique traits. While you’re still starting out, you’ll get to choose to play as Dr. Stone, who’d be classified as a healer whose perks lean towards healing and reviving his teammates faster than others can. Dr. Stone also comes with the ability to deploy a temporary healing bot that will let nearby allied Runners recover health, This is probably one of the most useful abilities to have in the field, even if you’re solo, because you get to stay in the fight and recover at the same time.

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Then we have Glory, she brings some major benefits to any team with her detection perks and the ability to deal increased damage to Nano Weakspots, along with her deadly smoke grenade which will damage anything inside the smoke while making it hard to see. Lastly, we have Deadcut. You’re introduced to him right from the start and he’s a good all-rounder aimed towards dealing the most damage to whatever is in his way with some minor survivability. Deadcut brings some extra heat to any battle with his Fire Grenade. It acts like a cluster grenade that explodes into smaller grenades while setting the area on fire just to be extra sure your target becomes a nice charred husk.

After spending some time in Dead Sector Runs or Nerva Runs, you’ll start to see how your buying options expand quite a bit more. You’ll be able to unlock even more Runners, weapons, various cosmetics, and even the odd weapon modification. Sadly, while you can unlock a good chunk of the extra options just by playing or through the Battle Pass, you can also opt to buy them using Shillings, the premium in-game currency. You already know where this is going... It’s sad to see a game go down this route because it usually starts as ‘pay to look good’ and turns into ‘pay to win’ very quickly. This does make SYNCED a little less attractive, but there might still be a few redeeming qualities in the story, and with the quests you can do to earn Shillings.

On the plus side, SYNCED does offer a rich story at the surface, though getting the full story means you’ll need to hunt down memory fragments. There is a literal mountain of fragments scattered throughout the Meridian for you to find, and each one gives you a little more insight into what happened during The Collapse. However, this does become a bit tricky to follow at first because you’re following two stories that form part of the overall story, one for The Haven where the Runners come together to prepare for an embark on Runs, the other for The Meridian and what happened during The Collapse. Collecting enough fragments will help piece everything together, and this does give the world as a whole a lot more depth than initially showcased.

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Saving the best for last, SYNCED is first and foremost an MMO. Obviously, this means you can play Solo if people scare you, or you can team up with others to fight against the Nanos or even get in on some PvP action. However, having a few teammates on your side does make SYNCED a lot more enjoyable since you’ll usually have some covering your back along with making the fights a lot easier. Dead Sector Runs are your usual PvE missions where you’ll be fighting against the Nanos, clearing Surge Storms and uncovering more of Shinar’s dirty secrets.

Nerva Runs are more PvP / PvE, you’ll not only be going up against other Runners, you’ll still have the Nanos on your heels too. This does have some Battle Royale atmosphere to it, without the shrinking battleground, where you’ll have to secure a Nerva Harvester for the Haven. Either way, you look at it, there’s a lot of fun to be had and never a dull moment to be found.

This deserves a little piece on its own because it can have a major effect on gameplay as a whole. The issue in question is how latency can affect gameplay. We already know that SYNCED is an MMO, therefore, you’ll have to be online to play. However, you might discover the horrifying side of having slightly higher than normal latency when you try using the Nano Jump only to see it take one or two seconds to actually work. If you know your latency isn’t that great and you want to do a cool jump off a crate or a balcony, then follow up with a Nano Jump right after your leap of faith. 

The flare might be somewhat underwhelming or delayed. The same thing happens when using your Runner abilities, which will once again, be semi-delayed because of latency. Meanwhile, this doesn’t happen with anything else in SYNCED, which is incredibly odd. It does leave the question as to why those specific things need to ping back to the server before they can happen while everything else is fine.

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SYNCED definitely does its best to impress on the visual side of things, but not in such a way that it would overwhelm you. Between Nano effects and the world itself, there is a clear contrast between the two which sets them apart while keeping you focused on the target at hand. The world design as a whole shows that a lot of care went into its creation and while it does take a very futuristic approach to everything.

You’ll also see just how run-down everything is to really highlight the devastation of The Collapse. As for the character design, it was a bit underbaked, to be blunt. The different Prime Nanos you’ll encounter are all unique and all have their own unique differences. The smaller Nanos all being the same does still work well with the story at hand as well. Unfortunately, the designs for the Runners are unique, but their facial animations during cutscenes are very bland and lacking.

On the sound side of SYNCED, you’ll be happy to know that the game is fully voiced and might actually redeem cutscenes with their lack of facial animations. The voice acting really stands out right from the start and while everything is on the serious side, it fits quite well with the situations you’ll find yourself in. SYNCED does also feature a brilliant soundtrack for some epic background music, the mix of Epic and what sounds to be a bit of Electronic. This fits in well with the world and the story but also drives you to stay on edge during a fight and adds some extra depth to the atmosphere. However, like with any shooter game, headphone users beware because, between the Nanos and the gunfire, it will get deafeningly loud.


Overall, SYNCED has a good chance to become something great for MMO lovers who enjoy living on the fast-paced side of life while getting a good story at the same time. With the mix of PvP and PvE, there’s never a dull moment to be had, and even less so with the nearly endless customization options. However, what SYNCED will become later on is still unknown since there’s already the ‘Pay To Look Good’ environment to worry about.

Jay Claassen (@R3GR3T_3NVY)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information



Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX
Publisher(s): Level Infinite
Developer(s): NExT Studios
Genres: Third-Person Shooter
Themes: Third-Person Shooter, Action
Release Date: 2023-09-07

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