Title: Fuga: Melodies of Steel
Release Date: July 29, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
The passion that goes into video games is undeniable. As teams bring their vision to life, their only hope is for it to all come together as a serviceable product for gamers. However, budget comes into play which may limit the scope of a project, or even whether it gets picked up by a publisher or not. This is why self-publishing has become so lucrative in today’s gaming culture. Developer’s who choose this route could be a financial burden, but with the added benefit of making a game that meets their unique vision. Developer CyberConnect2 is attempting this venture with the release of Fuga: Melodies of Steel, a furry action RPG that will emotionally move you with its narrative and test your strategy through a turn-based battle system.
Fuga: Melodies of Steel begins as the Berman army invades the small town of Petit Mona. Colonel Pretzel leads the charge, but a group of young children manages to escape at the guidance of a strange voice.
Led by Malt, the crew of children boards a mech tank named the Taranis with the promise of survival and saving their family. Throughout the game, the crew will increase in size along with the capabilities of the Taranis. These children must live on the tank, travel through the region, and fight at a moment’s notice.
The story doesn’t overshadow that these are only children, so their interactions come with a sense of innocent, if not a bit impulsive. In theory, they will risk everything to save their family, but that becomes a significant feature of the game. For example, equipped to the Taranis is a Soul Canon; this powerful weapon can initiate any boss in your way but at the cost of a character’s life. The first time this happened, I was in disbelief as if some mechanic would appear to reverse my decision. My jaw dropped, and I felt the same sense of weakness that the other crew members felt.
It’s almost unfair to put the player in this position because the trials ahead can be challenging for the unprepared. What’s incredible is how much it weighed on me. Sure, you’re given a choice, and I hated myself for my actions. This pain is elevated by how you become attached to every crew member.
During gameplay, intermissions serve as a way to get closer to the character and improve their relationship. There isn’t a true main protagonist here, as players can freely switch between characters to unlock additional scenarios. Crew members will act differently around others to reveal different sides of their personalities. I grew incredibly close to these characters, which made every scene that much more impactful.
Players will fight against the Berman army across each chapter. By following a path, the Taranis will encounter a series of battles and items as you make your way to the boss. The path can split, which provides players with the choice of taking the safe route or a more difficult one. Choosing tougher routes will provide better rewards to upgrade the tank’s weaponry and accommodations. However, you have to ensure that you have the items and skills to take on these tougher battles because the game refuses to go easy on you.
Although there is a high degree of challenge, it’s possible to take advantage of the various battle options with hopes of getting through alive. Each character is efficient at a specific weapon type that acts as a weakness to enemies. Hitting an enemy’s weakness can delay their attack and even add a status effect. This ends up leading to some repetition, though, as you use the same tactics for most of the battles, forcing the late-game encounters to mix things up as much as possible.
Players can switch characters every three turns to pair high-bonded characters together and trigger a link attack. These link moves are powerful and vary by character. Further, characters in a good mood can even enter a heroic state that buffs their stats. Similar to the link attacks, each character has a unique hero state where you can either gain significant speed or deal high damage, to name a few.
You’d expect to get stronger during battles, but this isn’t the most effective way of surviving. Instead, character and tank interaction nets the most significant ways of enhancing your strength. Each intermission provides 20 AP points to traverse the tank. Players can interact with characters to increase their bonds, allowing unique buffs when paired together, cooking for increased stats, tend the garden, rest, or venture into ruins. Ruins are cute 2D trials where you must search for a key to unlock a treasure chest. Unfortunately, it becomes increasingly difficult and acts as a puzzle challenge for extra resources.
The art direction is incredible as it features adorable anthropomorphic animal characters that manage to sell the impact of the narrative while still being exceptionally cute. Each character is as unique as their personality, which is good because the crew grows rather large. Unlockables come in the form of gallery and character descriptions. I think the best unlockables are Berman journals that detail diary entries from bosses and their perspectives of the war. It allows players to learn more about these characters instead of leaving them to simply cap off an area.
Sadly, the towns aren’t nearly as fleshed out as the rest of the experience. These instances are reduced to a few NPC interactions for items and comic book pages. I wouldn’t have minded if this was simply included in the routing of the battle maps since money isn’t even in the game and everything revolves around trade. Further, difficulty spikes found in the boss encounters may cause some runs to be significantly tougher. There aren’t ways to level grind, so I suggest taking the tougher paths to upgrade your tank for more resources and experience.
Fuga: Melodies of Steel is a brilliant RPG adventure that relies heavily on its cast. Every moment of gameplay is emotionally charged with added choices that weigh on the player’s experience and alter the conclusion. The puzzle-esque battle system is addictive but introduces repetitive scenarios and random difficulty spikes depending on your actions. However, this beautiful story deserves to be experienced by all.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.