During the height of the Rogue-lite craze, Rogue Legacy was one of the standouts, taking a single player Metroidvania approach to the genre and encouraging multiple runs in order to obtain upgrades. Cellar Door Games’ second title couldn’t be more different, this time fusing brawlers such as Streets of Rage with side-scrolling shooters and encouraging multiplayer. While not entirely perfect, Full Metal Furies does show that Cellar Door Games has range.
Each of the four playable characters are wildly different women, teaming up with a common purpose to eradicate the Titans and their minions in a world torn apart by war. Make no mistake though, this is played mostly for laughs and while the humour is definitely hit or miss, the characters have well defined personalities. For me, it’s definitely more of an excuse to blow things up than a coherent plot.
Much like Rogue Legacy, Full Metal Furies has a pixelated art style, though this is certainly more detailed than before and has a filter effect over the top. Characters are generally well animated and enemies varied in their design to make them distinct. There is a tendency for certain areas to look rather similar, which leads to some confusion when searching for secrets, and the presentation falls a tiny bit flat with the sound design which didn’t stand out in the slightest.
The four Furies also have very different play styles. Those taking the role of Tank and Fighter are melee specialists, with the Tank using a giant shield, charges, and shouting to smash her way through hordes of enemies, while the Fighter uses her weaponry to do the fighting for her. Engineer and Sniper are ranged fighters, with the former utilising dodge rolls, pistols, and drones to pin down enemies. Sniper is perhaps the hardest one to master given the frequent reloading of their primary weapon.
However, this is just how they start out. Throughout each of the many levels, there is the opportunity to increase gold earned to spend on upgrades in the shop, with a structure very similar to Rogue Legacy. You can gather blueprints for more gear and level up proficiency in said gear for boosts to various stats. A prime example is the Tank’s shield, since most focus on making her sturdier; one actually decreases overall HP for increased movement, thus turning her into a rush-down fighter.
Levels pit you against waves upon waves of foes, much like other games in the genre, but there are a wide variety of detours, challenge rooms, and secrets to uncover. Full Metal Furies does reward you for thinking outside the box, deciphering runes with cryptic clues as to where to find secrets, and doing all of that while at the same time wailing on enemies. It’s a dynamic way of varying the gameplay and shows that Cellar Door Games want to push the genre to its limits.
That isn’t to say everything works though. Early on players are introduced to coloured shields that are only penetrated by the corresponding character’s attack. The problem with this kind of gimmick is that it slows the game down to a crawl. I get that they were trying to imitate Ikaruga’s colours, but it just doesn’t work here and it becomes worse when some enemies develop a white shield that can’t be penetrated by any attack. Praise can be given for at least giving colour blindness options.
While the game was obviously designed to be played with friends, the single player mode does make one concession in the ability to switch between two character on the fly. Players can also revive a fallen partner when they are taken down, which sounds awful on paper but actually leads to some tense moments as you try to save your buddy.
For a game focused on cooperative play, it’s a shame that online multiplayer has seen the issues it has at launch, meaning those wishing to play this brawler/bullet hell combination may struggle to play with others. It’s actively being fixed and patched by the developers at Cellar Door Games as their top priority, so with any luck it would become easier to recommend for those looking for multiplayer with friends. Still, as a couch co-op experience, it’s a blast.
Full Metal Furies surprised me in just how diverse the gameplay could get in a brawler/shooter hybrid. Some experiments don’t come off, but upgrades change character play styles nicely and the game is a joy to play with others. The teething problems that online play is suffering do make it hard to recommend for those with online co-op in mind, but once it’s all fixed or if you plan to play locally, Full Metal Furies is a decent way to spend a couple of evenings worth of co-op brawling action.
Version Tested: PC