Image Credit: Paulo Guereta from São Paulo
Now, I'm not really one for music – you won't find me at a festival, or a concert, or even a club, but what I do love is Rhythm games. Whilst I might not listen to the latest hits or upbeat J-pop songs I'll happily press buttons in time to them. And with Beat Saber being one of the few ways I've managed to keep up any kind of exercise through the lockdown, they hold a special place in my heart.
FUSER comes from Harmonix, the creators of Rock Band. This time, looking to put you in the shoes of a DJ playing on the big stage to an enthralled audience. And it just works.
The true heart of the game and by all accounts its most impressive feat is that it manages to almost seamlessly fit together the entire games library regardless of which parts of songs you play. Despite the enormous amount of combinations, there was only the odd time a transition stood out as jarring. And if you stick to the drop/pickup beats they are fewer still. Almost no combination sounds bad and whatever magic music Mixing FUSER has going on behind the scenes makes you feel like a DJ with none of the effort.
Of course, any music game like this lives and dies on its music library and FUSER has an impressive line-up. Even for somebody as musically illiterate as myself, there are plenty of top hits and classic favourites. You can mix Whitney Houston's ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ along with Young MC's ‘Bust a Move’ to the baseline of Lady Gaga's ‘Born This Way’ with just a little of Dolly Parton's ‘Jolene’ or Rick Astley's ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ thrown in for good measure. With over 100 songs from a diverse mix of genres you're sure to find plenty that you’ll like to play with.
The game offers a few modes. The bulk of the game comes from the campaign where you have to create a mix hitting certain goals and responding to audience requests by switching out tracks at the right time for a higher score. Perhaps the most fun, however, is freestyle. It's just you and your music playing around for as long as you want, however you want.
Getting into a multiplayer freestyle was difficult for me despite it being so close to release. Personally, that's not much of a deal breaker. I can only imagine in multilayer I'd just cramp somebody else's style. The game does however offer asynchronous options where you can enter your own mixes into competitions or simply upload and listen to tracks from others.
The main downside is one that's true for all these kinds of music games. If you want all the music you're going to have to pony up. On release there are already 25 additional DLC songs priced at £1.69 apiece (£42.25 total) or they all come bundled with the VIP edition (which also has a handful of cosmetic goodies) which is £90, £35 more than the already pricey standard edition at £55. There's also sure to be more music on the way which will likely be similarly priced. So, it's not a cheap game to get into. But as something that could be more akin to a hobbyist project or an introduction to music mixing rather than a game it could be worth your while.
Overall, FUSER is an excellent experience that hits exactly the itch I was looking to scratch. Your mileage may vary but despite seeming like a relatively niche product it's open enough that anyone can make some great mixes and have a great deal of fun regardless of musical ability. It's certainly the closest I'll ever get to the DJ booth.