Feeling threatened by the USA and their nuclear bomb, the Russians had to look for uranium themselves after World War II ended. However, instead of uranium, they found something else on a small island off the east coast of Russia, now called Katorga-12. This something turned out to be E99 – the most powerful energy source known to man. Stalin immediately realized the scope of this discovery and pumped as many funds as possible into researching its military potential.
The scientists were forced to conduct their research at maximal speed, notwithstanding the possible dangers.Eventually, in 1955 an unknown and inexplicable disaster occurred, apparently killing everyone on the island and forcing the leaders to terminate the project. However, in 2010 an American spy satellite picks up radiation over the island, putting the government at high alert because of the fear of another Chernobyl disaster. To find out what is going on, they send the Black-Ops-team Spartan-21 to investigate. A sudden electromagnetic surge makes their helicopter crash. One of the few survivors, Nathaniel Renko, is left with the mission of uncovering the mystery of Katorga-12.
Singularity is a linear first-person shooter inspired by BioShock. Much of the story is uncovered by reading notes and hearing audio messages left by the inhabitants of the island before the catastrophe occurred. The weaponry includes a pistol, a shotgun, as well as more unusual firearms such as the Seeker which shoots E99-enriched bullets controlled by the player. Each weapon can be upgraded several times, increasing the size of the magazine or its strength. These upgrades, as well as swapping weapons and buying additional ammunition, are performed at weapon lockers scattered around the levels. In order to do an upgrade however, the player needs to find hidden caches containing weapons technology and collect the E99-technology lying around.
The distinguishing gameplay elements revolve around the Time Manipulation Device (TMD) the player finds early in the game. Wrapped around his left arm and constantly being upgraded during the course of the game, this device allows Nathaniel to manipulate space and time both in combat and for solving puzzles. Using the TMD on human targets like the Russian soldiers will result in them dying from old age within seconds. The monsters (mostly former humans hit by the Singularity) may react differently – e.g. some explode after a few seconds. Later in the game, the player can even turn a human soldier into a monster which will fight for a certain amount of time on his side.
Thanks to the ability of the TMD to manipulate the age of an item, it is also used for puzzle-solving purposes. This way the player can age a crate until it collapses, use the TMD like the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2 to place the remains under an almost closed rolling gate, and then return the crate to its original state, which pushes the gate open. In addition to the automatic upgrades granted throughout the game and abilities like a time-ball which freezes everything inside it in place, the player will also find formulas during his journey, using them (in addition to E99-technology) at specific upgrade stations to further increase the powers of the device. Finding the TMD also allows the protagonist to travel back in time to 1955 at certain points in the game, where he will have to alter the course of events, similarly to flashback sequences of Cryostasis. While the player’s choices are pre-defined there, a choice during the final part of the game will branch the storyline into three different endings.
The game also features multiplayer for up to 12 players in the two team-based modes “Creatures vs. Soldiers” and “Extermination”. While the latter is simply Team Deathmatch, “Creature vs. Soldiers” requires the soldiers to capture beacons on the map and defend them for a certain amount of time in order for the next one to become available, while the creatures do everything in their power to prevent that. In both modes, players can choose from four different classes on each team and can customize them to a certain degree, choosing which weapon and TMD-power the player uses as a soldier. While the soldier classes are rather straightforward, the four creatures are all unique, each having their own special abilities to compensate for the soldiers’ access to the powerful TMD. These abilities include seeing enemies through walls or turning into a soldier for a short time.