RPGs are known for potentially giving players a large swath of character customization options. Recent hit Elden Ring has multiple classes and combinations you can use to form your Tarnished and its abilities, and that's only the beginning. Character customization is the bedrock of these choice-driven games, but what if developers took it one step further? What happens when you can not only customize your character but their skills?
That's what Superfuse, an isometric action RPG from Stitch Heads Entertainment and publisher Raw Fury hopes to do. The group showed off the upcoming game at GDC, giving a hands-on demo of both the combat and its unique skill tree, which allows you to break down each ability to its tiniest details.
In Superfuse you play as one of a few classes of Enforcers, which are superpowered beings that fight for a set of Gods, or rich people with immortality and even stronger powers. It's a world influenced heavily by comic books and 2020s-era superhero shows like Invincible and The Boys. You have to fight monsters, called the Corruption, but there's also the innate corruption of the world that Stitch Heads has built. It's on the nose in its post-capitalist, oppressive society, but the narrative seems to be going in a direction where you have to uncover all of that.
For the demo, I played as a Berserker class — one of five that'll be available at release. The Berserker is a huge wrecking ball of a man, imbued with lightning powers and a ton of strength. In the level I was shown, he went through a mine filled with Corruption he had to battle. It started off as a standard isometric CRPG experience. He had a skill tree where you can equip a number of abilities. However, you get closer and discover that you can further break apart the tree and customize the abilities themselves.
This Skill Creator breaks down each ability into its own tree, which you can customize to your liking. It's not that every ability has every possible option available, but you can choose to, for example, add a ricochet to a projectile move or increase the range of another. I added a dash to one of my moves, allowing this hulking man to plow through enemies. I also made sure to add piercing damage wherever I could to long-ranged attacks. It takes into account what you might need for a particular class and gives you more say in how they work.
There is yet another way to customize your skills. You can also augment your abilities with modifiers called Power Fuses, which add effects like poison to lifesteal. I got a number of skill points during the demo, which will not be the case for regular players, so I was able to do a lot of customizing. There are limits; for example, I couldn't put the same ability in the sub tree more than once since only the first one takes effect. Luckily, the game gives you plenty of chances to test out different combinations and see what works best. I feel like you can spend more time in the skill trees than in combat, which might be what you're looking for.
The team noted at the demo that they inputted this kind of system because it showed their audience wanted different ways to play video games. As RPGs and RPG-lite titles institute more and more customization options and allow for freedom of play, Superfuse seeks to do something different. Thanks also to its comic book aesthetic, which really leans into the motifs of the medium, like panels, thick lines, bright colors, and thought bubbles, along with the ability to play in up to 4-player co-op, it looks like Superfuse will bring something new to the table as one of the best RPGs on the market.
Superfuse is set to launch in early access in 2022.
Viva La Dirt League's take on the subject seems relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJW_8EcNzUY
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