Ever play a game you want to succeed so bad, but know it won’t because the genre is dead? This is that game for me.
Full Metal Furies is a co-op brawler made by Cellar Door Games of Rogue Legacy fame. It’s got much of the same charm going for it. The sprites are beautifully animated, the bad puns and general humor keep things lighthearted, and most importantly everything just feels tight and composed. Ripping off some of the ludicrous air-hit combos you can do with the sniper, for example, is extremely satisfying to pull off.
From a presentation stand point, the game is stellar. I’m a sucker for pixel graphics generally speaking, but especially when they are this gorgeous and fluid. The backdrops have an old-school Wiley E. Coyote feel to them, evoking a much larger world than simply the stages you play in. It’s just a pretty game! The music is a step up from what was in Rogue Legacy, which had a great soundtrack in and of itself. You can even play along with the music while you’re in the camp screen once you unlock a certain artifact that gives you instruments. It’s those little non-gameplay touches that really build on the silly atmosphere of the game and keep me hooked.
I’ve already spent 8 hours with it, just doing solo play. Currently I’m about halfway through chapter 3 and have also got to the boss (or at leas the first boss?) of a major sidequest chapter-like area. I believe there are 5 chapters with at least that one major optional area, so there’s still plenty left to see. Just like in Rogue Legacy, there’s a New Game+ which ratchets up the difficulty for once you finish your initial run. Each of the 4 units is quite different and unique from all the others, and they each have to upgrade seperately. Single player lets you play with two of them that you can freely swap between in battle. I’ve only really played with the Tank and Sniper so far; knowing I have just as much potential time to spend with the game leveling up the Fighter and Engineer is exciting. My point is unlike a lot of brawlers there is a lot of mileage to be found in a $20 game.
My favorite thing about the combat is how well new concepts are introduced to the player. Within the first world, each new enemy type is introduced as a sort of Boss Battle where many of them spawn and have more HP than you will find them with in later zones, so you have time to learn their particular idiosyncrasies. In the next zone they will just be normal enemies but now dispersed throughout the hazards of any given stage and also as minions for the next new enemy boss battle. This pattern continues for much of the game so you never feel overwhelmed with new mechanics. You have time to learn combos against enemies to quickly dispatch them down the road.
Another wrench is enemies spawn with and often switch mid-fight a color-coded shield that corresponds to the different furies. It’s not too bad while playing alone because you can simply switch your character to the corresponding shield of the enemy, but I imagine it gets quite hectic in a 4-player game, which brings me to my next point.
Unfortunately, this game suffers the way all couch co-op games suffer: to get the most out of it you have to have friends. There is no matchmaking, meaning it’s as difficult to find people to play with as Destiny 2. (Seriously, Bungie, implement a fucking matchmaking feature already.)
Indulge me for a bit as I whine about why that specifically sucks for me. If you want to skip this part, look for the bolded word a few paragraphs down to pick back up with the actual review. I’m a 32 year old unemployed guy who’s been kind of left behind by several his far more successful friends. (If that sounds like I’m bitter, I’m not. I am immensely happy for the success of people I’ve shared my life with even if they are too busy to keep in touch any more.) I’ve still got my 3 brothers to game with, thankfully, but only one of them still lives in this city. Another doesn’t really do PC gaming. And the other has 4 kids, the oldest of which just became a teenager at the ripe old age of 11. And out of my 3 brothers, one is a store manager while the other two are in the military. Free time is limited. And it’s not like I’m without internet friends; it’s simply a smaller pool than it was, say, 5 years ago.
I tell you all this to say it feels like pulling teeth to convince others to play this game. Out of the gaming friends I still have, the responses to Why Not have varied. One of them just got Dragon Ball FighterZ so he didn’t feel like trying out a different kind of online experience. The ones who are more restricted monetarily are looking forward to many bigger releases within the coming months like Metal Gear Survive and Monster Hunter World. The most disheartening was a friend telling me that “This game wouldn’t look great on my 4k screen.” Surprisingly there are still graphics snobs in the world who refuse to play an objectively gorgeous game like FMF because it’s pixel graphics. My younger brother (the one that still lives in town) is usually up for this kind of game but even he’s simply responded “Eh I am gonna hang out with [my girlfriend],” whenever he has a day off.
BOLDED WORD HERE. Sorry for that rant. I don’t mean to make things personal, but I feel it’s important to explore the convoluted nature of the actual people who play video games. And I think that’s why despite a solid 85% user/Metacritic score, it’s only sold roughly 15,000 copies according to Steamspy. It doesn’t matter how perfectly a game pulls off the co-op brawler premise or how much value they pack into a $20 game; nobody has time to sit down and whomp on some pixel art bad guys these days apparently.
If anyone reads this, I urge you to give the game a try. It hits all the right notes for me. I want this game to succeed so badly because I want people to know about these devs. Everything they make has that special touch of fun that’s rare in the gaming world anymore.
(Side note: I’m still terrible at formatting articles on Kinja so if something seems off or you know of ways I can improve this whole thing, please tell me. I am not sure I did a header image right or at all.)
MAJOR EDIT: I was finally able to get some multiplayer time in by joining Cellar Door Games’ Discord channel. I highly recommend doing that if you’re interested in the game. It’s a stickied topic on their Steam page for the PC gamers out there, so it isn’t too hard to find.
Multiplayer adds a lot, but at the same time does not replace the single player experience. I actually found many encounters dramatically more difficult while playing with a friend, because so many more enemies spawn. Boss battles were quite a bit easier with someone else, however. I kind of missed the experience I had beating the easter egg boss on my own when I did it with a friend, because that fight is so genuinely difficult. It took all I had to do it solo, but with a friend by my side it was a total breeze.
Still, the sheer chaos of expanded hordes works in the games favor. If you can play this with friends, do so! You won’t regret it.