Furiously good fun, with friends or without.
It’s often the case that games built from the ground up for co-op play fall flat when tackled on your lonesome. Perhaps the difficulty is imbalanced or you lose the variety of distinct characters and their feature sets. Sometimes the fun of playing with friends is merely a band-aid for an otherwise mediocre experience.
Full Metal Furies is an action RPG with co-operative brawling at its heart, available online or in local play. Developed by Cellar Door Games, it’s a considerable sidestep from solo roguelike Rogue Legacy. But that tough, one-more-try attitude has successfully carried across for both social gamers and hermits alike.
The titular Furies are Meg, Erin, Alex and Triss, four ass-kicking ladies hell-bent on taking down destructive titans which plague their world. Each boasts a wildly diverse playstyle and feature set, from Meg’s sniper rifle and mines to Erin’s pistol and automated turret, and Triss’ shield which she uses to bash enemies out of the way.
Fairly standard as far as character classes go, but what’s impressive is how equally fun and balanced they are to play. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite, which negated the typical fierce squabbles over character selection in co-op.
The masterstroke here is that solo players get the choice of two Furies at once. Whilst only one character is in play at a time, they can be freely switched between. As a result, you gain much of the strategic opportunities of a team. The upgrade system also scales in such a way that whereas you could choose to just spend money on your two faves, it’s economically feasible to level everyone up evenly. This is a boon in single-player of which I took full advantage, rotating my crew almost every level.
Stages are relatively linear affairs, with hordes of grunts and usually a boss battle to contend with at the end. But alongside bonus levels which mix things up a little and hidden secrets which you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for, it’s the rock-solid combat which draws you in. Varied baddies shoot and stomp and charge and play musical instruments(!?) at you whilst you dodge, juggle ability cooldowns and try to lay down as much damage as possible. Coloured enemy shields dictate which character can damage them, demanding a tactical and balanced offensive from your squad.
Battles are slick, with satisfying attacks. There’s so much happening on-screen at times that it’s reminiscent of a bullet-hell. More than anything, it’s unapologetically tough. This is where Rogue Legacy’s, err, Legacy, shines through. But whereas failure there was the end of you, Full Metal Furies is generously checkpointed. Just be prepared to make use of this, a lot.
In another charitable concession, however, you get to keep all coins and ability experience earned from every encounter, whether you survive or not. A tenth retry feels dramatically less frustrating when you’re still making progress. And the progression system is highly rewarding. Levelling is straightforward, with scaling upgrade costs nullifying efforts to make overly creative builds, but unlockable gear can be mixed and matched to customise your feature set.
Adding another layer on top is that each of these can be levelled up a number of times to provide small, permanent buffs. These apply even when not actively using the equipment, encouraging you to try everything and max them out for the most benefit. Its systems are as remarkably well thought-out as they are finely tuned.
Full Metal Furies likes to keep the action light-hearted. Characters are expressively animated in cute and colourful pixel art over attractive hand-drawn backgrounds. The storyline is far from engrossing, but both the Furies and their adversaries spout daft, funny dialogue which won’t fail to put a smile on your face.
Full Metal Furies is chock-full of more personality, intelligence and hooks than your average brawler. Challenging but rarely insurmountable, it’s an easy recommendation however (and with whomever) you choose to play.