by Melanie Arvanitis
Rock with me, as I review Harmonix’s new music-mixing game!
Harmonix is a game developing company that developed all of the main Rock Band games, Guitar Hero I & II, and a whole bunch of other fun music games. Harmonix’s new release doesn’t shy away from that, but it has some issues that certainly dulls the fun.
In Fuser, you are an up-and-coming dj who plays at different venues, as you try to create more buzz about yourself and become a better dj with skills that you learn at each of the six venues in the main ‘story’. You learn cueing, using different instruments and effects at your dj set, rising up to your next cue and more.
The game has around 86 popular songs, across all genres and eras (from the likes of Lizzo, Dolly Parton, Megadeth, and many more) already embedded into the game for $60, or you can buy the VIP edition with 25 extra songs (which you can also buy as dlc separately), and a clothing item for your character for $99. The game just came out recently, so its music selection is very lacking thus far, but each week three new songs are added as dlc, and as you level up, you can also gain more songs.
The main story is a mixed bag – it really depends on what you find annoying. I loved the second-to-last venue, where the lady who loved to do crimes was your mentor. That was the venue where you learn how to use the riser, which allows you to cue songs and slightly mix together your current mix with your upcoming cue, until your next cued songs start a few seconds after. It was simple enough, and I felt like I had more creative freedom in those levels. I even got some of my best scores in this venue. The venue before it was just about cueing, which I absolutely hated. I was having trouble with cueing, because I was holding down the left trigger, and then let go of the respective button to cue the song, but more than 50% of the time it just played the song instead; it completely messed up my mix and made me feel very frustrated. My brother felt the exact opposite and found the riser levels very tedious. It really just depends what gets on your nerves to determine which venues you’ll love and which you will despise.
By the way, this game is pretty hard! I’ve only received four stars like once or twice, and most of the time I’ll get two or three stars if I’m lucky. It’s difficult to balance the goals and learn new tricks and techniques, while trying to respond to audience requests and changing up your mix, so the audience doesn’t get bored. It’s very easy to leave a song playing for too long and risk losing and having to replay the level (if you have no-fail disabled).
Here’s an example of what a general level/set looks like; the goals and the audience appreciation meter are on the side, your crate is on the top, and every so often you will get requests from the audience.
Besides the main story, there is also a freestyle mode, where you can just have fun and mix songs from your crate without any restrictions from the story mode. Along with that, there’s a co-op freestyle mode (which has cross-play across consoles!) which is basically the same as the single-player freestyle, just switching between two people. At the end of a co-op freestyle set, the game decides who had the hottest mix during the set (which is pretty short, and seems unchangeable in settings), and it’s way of deciding the hottest mix is pretty weird – your character has a signature move that you do before each set, and that is used as one of the key components as to who had the best mix for some reason. The other thing that it considers is fulfilling requests, but I’m pretty sure you can only respond to one song request from the other person you’re playing with during your part of the set. So, when the game judges who has the hottest mix, it doesn’t even consider what songs you were mixing at that time or what your mix sounded like! When I was playing the game with my brother, he won the hottest mix every time, except once, when I think we just didn’t request anything from each other. It’s very unfair, and even though it’s a minor complaint, it just really bugged me each time.
I’m almost done with the main story, but I heard from my brother who rushed through the game, because it’s pretty addicting, and he said that basically nothing happens. Once you finish the main story, that’s it and the game sends you off on your merry way. I find that pretty disappointing. I think it would be cool if there were maybe some extra (and even more) challenging levels waiting for you after the main story is finished – maybe a boss rush of levels or just more venues.
Another weird thing is the voting for themed events. You can make a mix for a themed event, sometimes limited by certain eras, or just by your imagination, but the voting is very uneven. My brother and I have gotten around almost fifty views on one of our themed submissions, but there are other people who have gotten way over 100. Shouldn’t everybody get near the same amount of views, and the people with the most amount of likes will get prizes -isn’t that how it should work?
This game is very bare bones, but hopefully as Harmonix releases new songs weekly, maybe they’ll add more to the game as well. After the main story, it doesn’t feel like there’s that much left to do.
Besides the many issues I have with this game, overall I found it pretty fun to play. However, I think it would be best to wait awhile before I go back to playing it with a set of new songs waiting. This game can really brighten up your day because the combination of music and video games is golden, so I’d recommend it to anyone who loves both. Perhaps just wait a few months for some more songs to come out before you burn yourself out with a very limited selection like I did.