You know what makes chess the ultimate strategy game that has lasted for thousands of years? It's simplicity.
Frozen Synapse takes the turn-based strategy game genre to an extreme level of meticulousness. This is saying something in a genre that already resembles something like chess with more rules.
I am a long-time fan of turn-based strategy games, with the X-Com iterations holding a special place in my heart (well just the first two and the remake actually), so I am no stranger to intricate control over characters and exhaustive planning for each turn. However, there are two questions that must be answered in the affirmative for any TBS game to be considered "good":
First, are the controls efficient?
Second, is the game fun?
Unfortunately, Frozen Synapse fails on both accounts. The painstaking level of control over every minute movement of your troops is maddening and superfluous. You are the most anal-retentive military commander in all of history, and while the game provides a reasonable explanation for it, your troops are apparently mindless drones. Simply adding more controls over every little movement does not make a TBS game superior to others. Extraneous controls weaken a strategy game's enjoyability by obstructing its very purpose: strategy. Very often, you will find yourself losing rounds/games because you forgot to set a drone to look in a specific direction or to duck at the right moment, or walk quickly/slowly. Not because you didn't realize that those moves were necessary, no, because you FORGOT. There are so many options to set for each individual unit, that you can easily spend an hour just setting up a SINGLE TURN. I am not exaggerating, the multiplayer gives opponents a week to post their turn! This kind of burdening complexity removes the players ability to strategize and gives advantage to the player who is most able to memorize details. Strategy is about out-thinking your opponent's moves and countering them, or recovering from a weaker position with superior tactics, NOT micro-managing the user-interface.
So is it fun? Well, Frozen Synapse insists on you monitoring every sniffle and cough your troops make, so the majority of the time playing this game is spent staring at a screen of unmoving drones and identical walls, running simulation after simulation to determine the highest likely method of success. It would be just as fun to compare tax audits to determine which IRS agent was the most efficient!
Speaking of identical walls, the graphical quality of this game is terrible. I have never before claimed to need high quality graphics in a game, in fact in many ways the fight for ever greater graphics is ruining the industry, but if ever there was a game that needed better graphical design: this is it. The neon colors that honestly looked cool in the trailers and screencaps are horrendous to look at after only ten hours or so of gameplay. Every character looks the same, every wall is identical, you are a robot commander of a robot army killing other robots for no reason whatsoever.
Some of the positive reviews said the game was "easy to get into, but hard to master," and this is an outright lie. This game is hard to get into and hard to master. I will say it again: strategy games require simple controls so the only thing between you and victory is your tactics. Not fun.