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AX 2019: Fuga: Melodies of Steel Hands-on

War is a brutal thing. So, what happens when a group of children decides to set out to rescue their parents from an invading Empire? Let’s take a look at CyberConnect2’s Fuga: Melodies of Steel to find out.

Fuga: Melodies of Steel | KeyArt

Don’t all these characters look adorable? Well, you better get ready to send them to war as we take a look at Fuga: Melodies of Steel

One of the best parts of attending a convention like Anime Expo is discovering new companies and titles. Sure, I attend these shows because it’s an opportunity to catch up with the companies I know and see what they have in development. However, conventions like Anime Expo also tend to have a few surprises if you keep your eyes open. Fuga: Melodies of Steel is one of those surprises.

The Legacy of CyberConnect2

Fuga - Melodies of Steel | CC2 Logo

CyberConnect2 is one of those companies I had heard of, but never really looked into. Turns out they’ve developed quite a few major titles, however.

Fuga: Melodies of Steel is a game by CyberConnect2. If you’ve never heard of them, don’t feel bad. I only knew of the name from a single source: Neptunia. Yes, the franchise about games and game makers is probably the only reason I even sought out Fuga. I knew the company’s name because of the character CyberConnect2 in those games. But it turns out there’s quite a lot of things they’re responsible for.

You see, CyberConnect2 has been around for over 15 years and in that time they’ve done quite a bit of licensed work as well as a few original titles. See if you’ve heard of any of the games below:

Quite the pedigree as you might imagine. On my end, while I’ve heard of many of these, they weren’t things I played. Even so, I’ve still heard people sing praises about the .hack games. Also, XSEED Games went ahead and localized Solatorobo. Which, considering they don’t localize a game unless they like it, should speak volumes. But what does this have to do with Fuga? Actually, quite a lot considering it’s tied to both Tail Concerto and Solatorobo. With that bit of history our of the way, let’s delve into the premise next.

The Tale of a Group of Children Braving War to Save Their Families

Fuga: Melodies of Steel | Cast

One of the intermissions between battles. Here you can get to know the other characters a little better.

Fuga is the story about a group of children whose parents are taken away when war comes to their village. Deciding that they aren’t going to just idly sit by and hope for the best, they find an ancient giant battle tank named Taranis. With a means to rescue their parents in hand, the kids set out to liberate their families from the Berman Empire. However, remember these are children who are now waging a war. And that’s actually a major part of Fuga’s plot.

Fuga does not seem to be the happiest of titles. Sure, one might think that the inclusion of kemono characters would make for a cute tale. But, make no mistake here. These kids are fighting in a war. In fact, at the end of the demo, one of the most powerful moments comes when they realized they just killed someone. Sure, there’s no blood or anything, but it’s still impactful. It’s certainly a got to me in a good way. Both you and the children understand that this isn’t going to be easy. Which carries over to the gameplay because CyberConnect2 would like you to know this game is going to be difficult as can be.

Set Difficulty to “War is Hell”

Fuga: Melodies of Steel | Event

You might need that desire Kyle because CyberConnect2 is out to make Fuga a true challenge to master.

One of the things that was stressed during CyberConnect2’s panel on Fuga is that it’s not going to be an easy game. CyberConnect2 plans to do this in a few ways. For one, Fuga uses elements of the roguelike genre in its design. There are special events that happen during gameplay that can help or hinder the player. In addition, if you end up dying, guess what? You’re going back to the start of the game. Even if you’re at the final battle. This might sound unfair, but just because you’re going back to the start doesn’t mean you’re starting from scratch.

Upon returning to the start of the game, your skills will carry over. This means that while you’ll need to traverse the game again, you’re always getting stronger. In addition, while certain events may be randomized, you as a player are always learning. So, as you encounter similar situations, you’ll be able to better deal with them. This allows Fuga to be difficult without being unfair in theory. Sure, eventually you can grind the game down. But, the real challenge in mastering Fuga will be clearing the game on a fresh run. That sounds like a good trial to me, but how does it work in practice? Well, let’s look at the demo.

Taking the Taranis out for a Shakedown

Fuga: Melodies of Steel | Battle

Sure, the Taranis might have 5000 HP, but you will chew through that quickly if you haphazardly rush through your actions. You’ll need to think carefully in order to succeed here.

The demo of Fuga was short but quite enjoyable and informative. The entire demo is essentially one long tutorial, but it doesn’t hold your hand excessively. The game will allow you to experiment with your attacks and skills. And mastering use of these is critical to clearing the demo. I won’t lie, this demo was not easy. But I was able to quickly learn what I was doing wrong. My mistake was not making use of my skills to delay the turn of the heavier tanks I was fighting. A few shots from them can obliterate your HP. Sure, Fuga is hard, but I never felt lost or confused. If you’ve ever played a turn-based RPG, you can play Fuga.

Combat is simple enough. The turn order is displayed at the top of the screen. The Taranis has three guns. A machine gun, which is excellent for delaying an enemy’s turn. A medium gun for damaging armor. And a heavy cannon for dealing damage. Your goal is simple, but not exactly easy to obtain. Use the machine gun to delay the more powerful enemies while utilizing your medium gun to soften up foes for your heavy gun to take out. This makes Fuga one big puzzle almost. You need to be efficient or else you’re going to take tons of damage quickly. It sounds simple, but you must plan out your moves carefully. Still, is the game any fun?

Heck, yes! I really enjoyed this demo. It’s hard in all the right ways; the demo is informative but doesn’t bog you down with tutorials, and the premise is genuinely interesting. This was just about as perfect of a demo as you can make. Still, are there any potential pitfalls? Just one.

CyberConnect2 has stated that the final build of Fuga will be much harder than the demo. That does worry me a bit. I felt the level of difficulty during the demo was just right for the first stage. I can’t imagine making that level harder personally. However, I’m willing to give CyberConnect2 the benefit of the doubt here. The game looks good and feels great so far. If they can make it harder while keeping it feeling this balanced, I’m ok with that. Time will certainly tell, but I think Fuga is a game we should all be keeping an eye on. That said, let’s wrap this one up.

These Melodies of Steel Seem Bound to Become a Symphony of Tactical Prowess

 

 

I sincerely enjoyed my time with Fuga. While I’m not usually a fan of super-difficult games, I’m going to give this one a try. Fuga makes a lot of sense once you sit down to play it. In fact, I’d recommend CyberConnect2 consider making a demo available for download in the future. Aside from the mechanics, what will stick with me is the potential for this story.

As I said in my review for The Expression: Amrilato I adore games that make me think or give me pause. Fuga looks to be one of those titles. The idea of following these orphans as they try to rescue their parents and deal with the rigors of war leaves a lot of room for emotional impact. Getting the best ending in Fuga may be a war in itself, but it’s one I’m willing to brave to give those kids a happy ending.

Fuga: Melodies of Steel will be released in 2020 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

 

Benny Carrillo
A gamer since the days of the NES and SNES and a reporter since 2015. This hat-wearing otaku loves niche Japanese games, but has a soft spot for visual novels, Super Robot Wars, Mega Man, yuri, and Nepgear. Benny has covered E3 and Anime Expo since 2015 and served as Operation Rainfall’s Visual Novel Manager. Now, this seasoned reporter spends his days trying to clear his epic backlog in between writing analytical articles and reviews.
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