"Full Metal Furies is full of charm, life, expert design, and few missteps."
Please note, the name of the game is Full Metal Furies, not Full Metal Furries
. Now that that's out of the way, FMF is an RPG hybrid beat 'em up, akin to titles like Dungeon Fighter Online, just without the MMO component — In fact, without the grindy, mindless components as well. Full Metal Furies is the most recent title of Cellar Door Games, whose most notable work is Rogue Legacy, a metroidvania roguelike we reviewed some years ago
. While similar in visuals, FMF is notably different in several regards, most of which are surprisingly tight and well-developed.
Our ragtag crew of four female fighters decide to take on the Titans who are fighting for control over our world. After the demise of the reigning king, Prometheus, the Titans have engaged in a century-long war that has left the world in shambles. That's a lot of war. Having agreed upon a brief armistice, the Titans power up for another go, which will surely leave the world destroyed. The Furies step in to make sure that doesn't happen as they await Prometheus' return and restore a semblance of stability and peace to human civilization.
Our heroes attempt to accomplish this with deft movements, brutal weaponry, and wit. Full Metal Furies' gameplay takes place across a number of stages entered similar to Mario titles. Once in a stage, players engage in classic beat 'em up combat in a three-dimensional side-scrolling environment. Though brief, stages include several secrets, traps, demanding tactical play, and opportunities to level up and earn equipment. Each world includes a Titan battle at the end, though smaller boss fights exist as well.
When not on the battlefield, you'll find yourself at the Furies' camp, which is a sanctuary where players can spend money to level up stats, learn new skills, and buy equipment found in stages. In addition, players can try to decipher riddles or clues that will either unlock more secrets or further the storyline. What's refreshing about camp is that it's constantly upgrading in useful and cosmetic ways. Upon finding artifacts, players can unlock new shops, a person who gives hints to secrets in each world, and instruments that...play music. Yeah, they play music and don't do much else. Fun!
Each Fury has its own distinct personality, similar to that of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though pretty archetypical and lacking in depth, the chemistry between each Fury is refreshing, hilarious, and believable. In fact, the jokes throughout the entire game made me either smile quietly to myself or bust out laughing. Since FMF encourages up to four-player online multiplayer, the fun can be shared with friends who will join the laughter and help solve genuinely challenging (and fair!) puzzles.
Most of the game can be played without solving puzzles or finding hiding spots to riddles. However, to truly beat the game, players need to find hidden stages and figure out what cryptic tablets are saying. Most of the puzzle design is outstanding
, which I don't get to say very often. In a lot of games that use clues and riddles, players are justifiably frustrated in at least a few places for not thinking like the developers and usually give up, reading an FAQ or asking for hints online. My friend and I didn't have to do this. We each put our heads together and screamed in celebration when the light bulb turned on. Or we ended our session coyishly frustrated, determined to think on it overnight or over the next few days. Sure enough, upon returning, we came up with some great ideas that progressed the story for us. I emphasize this not only because it's a significant part of the late game, but because I am honestly shocked at the developers' creativity and fairness.
Beyond puzzling, the majority of FMF takes place on the battlefield. Most people fondly remember beat 'em ups of olde for the button mashing and relatively simple approach to overcoming foes. Full Metal Furies is so much more than that, though. While the concept is the same — shoot or bash enemies until they fall down and disappear for good — the depth of strategy is truly remarkable. Each family of foe boasts a unique skill set that requires players to adapt and change up how they fight. This is further complicated when a variety of families flood the field. In fact, each character requires entirely different strategies as two use guns and the other two use melee weapons, each with distinct abilities and characteristics. Combine this with multiplayer teams and the amount of strategy and cooperation that goes into almost every single fight is shocking for this genre.
Full Metal Furies isn't without flaws, unfortunately. Probably my least favorite aspect is the control. Now, that might seem odd — how could I praise the combat so much in a genre that requires strong controls if the controls are an issue? Well, the actual execution of abilities and what not aren't the issue — it's the hit boxes. I could not tell you how many times I blurted out an expletive because I got hit when there is no way in any other beat 'em up or three-dimensional environment that I would have gotten hit. Since so many fights require skillful dodging as players sidestep fast-moving enemies and bullet hells, this is inexcusable. While this obviously did not ruin my experience, it created needless frustration throughout my twenty-hour romp. What's most confusing is that given the precision and high quality of content in every other regard, I can't help but feel like these hit boxes are intentional, but I can't see how the developers could be okay with this. Regardless of the why, what exists is an unfortunate misstep.
Graphically, FMF is well-animated and the art style is appropriate for the sense of humor. While the stills could be animated in dialogue and the world could be a little livelier, what's presented suits the world. Similarly, the music complements the vibe well, though it is largely forgettable. The overall package of visuals and sound work, but they won't wow anyone or sell the game.
Full Metal Furies is full of charm, life, expert design, and few missteps. The story won't revolutionize the industry and the controls could be crisper, but the sheer quality in gameplay sets a higher bar not only for the genre, but for puzzle design. Period. Given Cellar Door Games' work on Rogue Legacy and FMF, I cannot wait for the next title they come up with, as their excellent game design is something they not only offer to the gaming community, but to the industry as well.