In any Diablo-style action RPG game, part of the fun is in getting your build set up just right: the right gear, the right abilities, and the right class. Superfuse, coming to Early Access later this year, goes one step further – it lets you get under the hood and modify the programming of your hero’s abilities. We had a chance to try it out during GDC, and came away impressed that this powerful system doesn’t break the game.
Revealed this week, Superfuse takes some visual inspiration from the Borderlands series, with a comic book style that uses heavy ink strokes and screen-printed textures to evince a hand-illustrated style. I play as one of the Enforcers, a superhuman race of mutant soldiers created by the galaxy’s elite 1% to rein herd on the rest of the population – who may have gotten it into their heads that corporate rulers becoming gods might not have been a great idea after all.
The tone, then, is a mix of cyberpunk and Watchmen, but the brilliant bit is in how I’m given fine control over the way my abilities work. By spending points, I can tweak each skill I use, altering its damage output, its recharge rate, or even the circumstances that trigger it.
An example might help here: my berserker – a massive guy with a shoulder measurement wider than most double doors – has a skill called ‘slam’ equipped on a hammer I’ve picked up somewhere in the frozen mines. It’s a straightforward area-of-effect attack that hits things in an arc directly in front of my character and sends a damaging fissure out a few metres from the point of impact.
However, that’s just a canvas to start working with. By opening up the skill creator menu, I can tweak and modify the slam ability on the fly. Maybe I want three fissures, instead of the one – I can add a ‘split’ effect that does that. Perhaps I want to add a ‘shatter’ effect that sends damaging shards out every time the ability hits something. Maybe I want it to trigger a dash first, so I can use it for diving into big groups of enemies and starting a ruckus.
It’s like a weapon modding system, but far more advanced than anything I’ve seen in a game like this. It gives me a lot of power over my build – and it would arguably be too much, if it weren’t for the way Stitch Heads has balanced it out. Each attribute node and modifier has to be unlocked with earned currency, and every time you modify a skill, its associated cost in action points will change.
This means I have a lot of options right off the bat when it comes to battling the corruption that’s taking over the solar system – I end up with an ability combo that turns me into a walking shotgun blast, with each hit triggering chain effects of damaging shards that quickly turn aliens into smears of colourful gore splattered across the walls and floor.
When Superfuse hits Early Access later this year, Stitch Heads tells me it’ll have five Enforcer classes to choose from, each with a unique set of superpowers that you’ll be able to tune and alter on the fly to fit your playstyle. You’ll also have the option to bring up to three friends along to play the narrative campaign in four-player co-op mode.
The developer describes Superfuse’s aesthetic as ‘Aztec cyberpunk.’ “We really tried to take a lot of South American influences and fuse it with cyberpunk to do something else for a change,” says Tim Baijens, one of the studio’s co-founders.
Superfuse will be available on Steam Early Access later this year.