Cellar Door Games hit indie development gold with 2013’s Rogue Legacy. This was the studios first console game after a plethora of flash games developed for PC and the roguelike captured the hearts of many gamers and sold over 100,000 copies in its first week. Five years after hitting the big time, Cellar Door Games has returned with Full Metal Furies, but does this game meet the high standard set by what came before?
Release Date: 17th January 2018
Price: £16.74 ($19.99) on Xbox/Win10, £14.99 on Steam
Size: 663 MB
Genre: Sidescrolling Action RPG
Reviewed on: Xbox One, also available on Steam and Windows 10 (Xbox Play Anywhere)
Link to buy: http://store.steampowered.com/app/416600/Full_Metal_Furies/
The game begins with our four heroines, Triss, Meg, Erin and Alex, setting out to challenge the four Titans that are waging war on humanity across the globe. The world is facing destruction and humans are faced with the choice to kneel to a Titan and fight for them or to accept death. These four ladies decide that neither is a viable option, instead challenging the Titans in order to restore the previous ruler of the world, Prometheus, to his position. However matters are complicated by the fact that Titans come back to life every 100 years and Prometheus is nowhere to be found.
The individual personalities of the four characters are immediately brought to life with excellent dialogue. It is very cheesy at time and really leans into the silly, fourth wall breaking, self aware aspect of video games and the writers have really pulled it off. There are several areas that your group will travel to in the hunt for the Titans. Each has a unique aspect, from the hell inspired depths of the Stygian Well to the barren, open desert patrolled by the Titan Lelantos. But despite the beautiful animated world its the characters that really shine. This includes the Titans, each has their own unique traits that really leads them to develop and engrosses the player in the lore of the world.
As you progress through the game you’ll laugh at your groups remarks and really start to understand each enemy and their role in the world. This ranges from one Titan’s obsession with technological advancement to another’s desire to remain neutral throughout the wars. By the time you reach the end game you’ll have genuine moral quandaries and find yourself in moments of philosophical contemplation. The story serves up some fascinating intellectual content all while managing to conform to the over the top action that the gameplay offers, and after all its the gameplay that players will keep coming back for.
Full Metal Furies is essentially an old school side scrolling beat em up at heart. It has excellent RPG mechanics and the moment to moment action is incredibly intense, every time an enemy lines up an attack that will potentially kill you and you interrupt it with an attack of your own feels like a huge victory, even though another moment just like it is seconds away. This is an achievement very few games successfully pull off. Couple this with the game’s difficulty and the developers have created a challenge that is incredibly satisfying to overcome. Countless times I used an evasive maneuver before turning around to eliminate the screen full of enemies on my tail and every time it felt glorious.
The characters all feel unique and have been built to specialize in certain strengths and weaknesses. Triss is the leader of the group and as a Tank uses her shield to protect herself and also to crowd control opponents. Meg is our Sniper who specializes in high damage at range. Erin the Engineer uses turrets to attack while she stays mobile. Finally Alex the Fighter uses counters and combos in close combat. Each character’s personality is tied to their play style in a manner that is charming and unexpected. For example Meg is almost blind and uses her sense of smell to sense and see enemies. This is played for laughs and manages to remain funny even twenty hours later. Each character plays completely unique and has enough variety to warrant several playthroughs of missions to find what combo works best.
The boss fights are the true highlights of the gameplay. Each one is more inventive than the last and has its own unique twist to really ramp up the intensity. Their variety is really key to this. They range from an epic sniper battle where your vision has to be split to focus on every direction to keeping on the move and dodging bombs raining from the sky while fighting the demolition duo of Bob and ‘Not Bob’. More than once I found myself grinning during the cutscenes that precede every boss fight only to see that grin wiped straight off as the boss pulverized me at the first attempt. Despite the difficulty never once did the challenge feel insurmountable or did the game feel grindy. Each failure was my own opportunity to improve.
The further you get the more mission variety you’ll experience. Near the endgame there is a lengthy optional quest that you’ll need to get notepads out for and get onto the forums for some community interaction. I had a great time working out some of the game’s biggest secrets with others and at 90% completion I know there’s still some more to go. The game also offers New Game Plus to keep the content training rolling onward. This adds a full extra play through with some shake ups that I won’t spoil here. After my two playthroughs I’m sat at 28 hours for anyone worried the game looks a little light on content.
The game features and RPG progression system where the characters you focus on level up giving them access to a variety of upgrades which can be purchased with gold. Gold is earned during and upon completion of every level, this includes if you return to a level, adding replay value. The upgrades really do make a difference. Enemies that I once had to really think about tactically at every encounter became one shot kills thanks to the upgrades to my Sniper’s bullet damage. The latter stages of the game really empower the player thanks to the plethora of upgrades that you have access to. If you feel at any time the challenge is too much there is a lower difficulty, ‘Story Mode’ option. This lowers the gold you earn in return for making enemies weaker. It did feel significantly easier when I tried it out and considering the story of this game is fantastic no one should feel guilty at using this option to get through some of the game’s more challenging areas.
The game has a large focus on co-op. Every time you log in you’ll be offered the chance to let someone else pick up a second controller and join your game, or even to invite a friend online to join you. The lack of online matchmaking is a pity though. The developers did explain this, stating that the game has such a focus on story that they didn’t want this to be interrupted by players you don’t know dropping in and out of your match. Thankfully there is an active Reddit and Discord community and so I was able to try out some online multiplayer. It works well, no connection issues whatsoever and when you get the right team of four the game really clicks.
That’s not to say multiplayer is the definitive way to play. Personally I much preferred the challenge of the single player game, and luckily Cellar Door Games have accommodated for people like myself. In single player you choose two characters who you can swap between at any time, if your HP hits zero, you swap to your secondary character and are able to revive yourself. This adds some much needed balance to the single player experience.
Graphics and Sound
The game is beautiful in its simplicity. Every environment is unique and every character’s pixel graphics really stands out against the backdrop. Considering the amount of explosions and action flowing on screen the game performs exceptionally well. I rarely had any issues outside of a handful of frame rate slowdown. The music really harkens back to the days of arcade beat em ups and features some really great, upbeat tunes.
Full Metal Furies is a blast to play and a fantastic homage to a long dormant genre. Cellar Door Games clearly has a very talented team at work. The game absolutely oozes charm and could make anyone smile, whether thats due to the near perfect gameplay or the witty dialogue from the lovable cast. The game offers both accessibility and challenge with a gameplay loop that will push you to always play one more level in order to reach the next unlock whatever that may be. The finale presents some really tough choices that really challenge the player’s outlook on the nature of humanity. The sheer amount of quality content on offer here is worth the price tag alone, the detail and depth of this quirky Action RPG is second to none on offer in the indie market today.