Harmonix and music-based games have gone hand-in-hand for a long time. Getting their start with Frequency in 2001, the studio found great success with the likes of the Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central franchises, bringing countless players together through rhythm. The studio’s latest effort, Fuser, approaches the genre from yet another angle – bringing the experience of playing a music festival to your living room. Thanks to a massive and very dynamic booth presence at this year’s PAX East, the game is commanding a lot of attention, so let’s see what’s on offer.
Fuser is all about building up a beat and, pun intended, mixing it up. The game lets you manage four stems – percussion, two instruments, and vocals – at a time, and you can dynamically switch which pieces of which songs are playing. Want to put Born This Way‘s vocals over Don’t Fear the Reaper‘s guitar and Bad Guy‘s beat? You can. Multiple stems from the same song can play at once, so if you really nice Lizzo’s Good as Hell, you can fill out your mix with as much of it as you want. This flexibility opens up lots of opportunities for creative and unexpected mixes. You may surprise yourself with some of the mixes and combinations you come up with; I certainly did.
While the gameplay is approachable, even simplistic at times, challenge comes from fulfilling fan requests and dropping songs into the turntable on specific beats. In order to achieve a full five-star set, you must respond to requests that come in; fans will ask for music from specific genres or decades, occasionally even requesting guitar, vocals, or beats from a particular song. You can activate one of a song’s parts with just a button press, but you can also physically drag a song onto the turntable and into the section you want to play. Doing so at specific points during the song – on a downbeat, for example – nets you extra points. Naturally, the music dynamically morphs and changes in perfect time and very smoothly, something we’d definitely expect from a game like this.
Of course, it doesn’t replace the actual experience of creating and mixing your own live DJ set, but it doesn’t have to; Guitar Hero wasn’t a replacement for playing a real guitar, but it’s still a blast, and Fuser is no different. While we hope additional twists and mechanics will add more depth to the experience, the game is a fun, laid-back way for you to build mixes and mess around with some of your favorite songs. The full game promises a multi-hour single-player campaign, collaborative multiplayer, and over 100 songs in total; if you’re a fan of keeping the beat going on your console of choice, definitely keep your eye on this one.
Fuser takes the stage later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.