“Fuser is a digital music festival where YOU control the music! Combine elements of the world’s most popular songs to create your own sound or partner with friends on epic collaborations, then share your amazing mixes and headlining performances with the world!”
With festivals all over the world cancelled, Fuser offers a nice living-room alternative where we can still enjoy some of the best music the world has to offer while feasting our eyes on imagination-defying stages.
You start the game as a fresh new DJ, invited to play on some of the most exclusive festival stages out there. A mentor will teach you the ropes as new mechanics are constantly being introduced, but fear not: if there is one thing that Fuser does extremely well, it’s easing you into the multitude of options you’ll have available by the end of the campaign.
I can’t overstate the importance of this: I’m not familiar with DJ terminology at all and the actions you’re required to perform can be hard to translate from a mixing table to what’s required of us on a controller, but unlike say Hexagroove, where I still had no clue what I was doing hours into the game, I felt myself slowly getting a grasp on things here.
Just exactly what makes being a virtual DJ so fun can be hard to explain by simply telling you how the game works: You get a selection of famous music to play with and you can drop elements from them, like the instruments or vocals unto one of four tracks, while appeasing both your mentors as well as the crowd. Sounds like your standard fare, right?
But the majority of the fun comes from the creative freedom you’re given. While you’ll have to listen to the crowd if you want to get a 5-star rating at the end, you can still bring your own selection of music to each set (for the most part). It’s incredibly pleasing to hear your favourite songs mix and blend with each other for the first time and discovering some really sick beats in the process.
The counter-argument happens when there are too many complicated requests being thrown at you at once and it becomes extremely difficult to also keep the actual result sounding good. Especially when you’re asked to play with BPM, minor or major keys and pitches: the concoctions you produce can become less than pleasing to the ear…
I completed the 6 campaign stages, but I have to say that it was far more enjoyable of an experience to me when my options were still limited, though experiences may vary depending on your personal skills and knowledge.
Yes, pre-existing music knowledge will go a long way into racking up high scores when playing Fuser. When one fan asks you to play a pop song and another asks you to play something from the nineties, it helps to know records that meet both requirements. You’ll get a sweet combo bonus and you’ll be at less of a risk of timing out. Getting a 5-star rating will not be an easy feat, but when it does happen, it feels extra rewarding.
The selection of music present here is nothing short of phenomenal by the way. It could be that this purely meets my personal tastes, but I never found myself lacking a great song in a certain genre or decade to add to my crate (=your collection of music that you’re bringing in to each set). Thunder, Bad Guy, In Tha Club, X Gon’ Give It To Ya… this is my jam!
Playing any of the modes present in the game will reward you with EXP and whenever you level up you’ll get credits to spend on new songs or cosmetics for your character or stage. I was already pretty happy with most of the default gear available, so the character customization wasn’t all that important to me, but I was always counting down until I had enough money to buy a new song!
It’s not really the characters that steal the show either. You’ll get six different mentors with totally different personas and looks to them, as well as some randomly generated dancers on the stage, but their designs often border on the uncanny valley.
What really takes the stage are, well, the stages. These are truly Tomorrowland-worthy works of eye-candy that make me wish they existed in real life.
Playing Fuser has been an absolute delight, and I honestly didn’t expect it to. Seeing someone else play it on a stream really doesn’t do the game the same justice as it would when you’re the one in control.
I played the entire game with a SUBPAC to further enhance the experience (a subwoofer backpack) and the bass I was feeling during some of these mixes send literal chills down my spine!
When you’re happy with a mix you’ve made, you can also save it and share it with the world. There are timed events that will ask you to work with a specific crate or other kinds of limitations and then the community can vote for the best ones. I really liked checking out what other people had created each time I booted up the game, before getting behind the turntable myself. You can learn from them, make snapshots of their mixes or become inspired for your next creation.
Sadly I was playing during hours when not enough other people were online, so I didn’t get to try out the co-op freestyle or battles yet, but I imagine that they can do some serious work on providing extra longevity to the game. I don’t usually invest a lot of time into the multiplayer myself, but it’s nice to have as an option. (I’ll edit this section in some time when I’ve been able to explore it further)
What’s also good news is that Fuser supports cross-play: you’ll be able to face off against people on PC or other consoles, so there should be plenty of people to get matched up with as soon as the game is officially live.
FUSER succeeds in bringing the festivals into our living rooms! It seems like there are an overwhelming amount of mechanics to play with, but it eases the player into them in such a way that it’s enjoyable for new DJ’s and veterans alike. Drop that beat!
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on Xbox One X, Code was provided by the Developer