Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Fuser is the latest rhythm-based title from Harmonix, creators of the groundbreaking Guitar Hero and Rock Band titles, and takes place in the DJ booth of a massive music festival. You are presented with a crate full of discs to mix and match to create the sound of the summer for the thousands of people dancing before you.
And it is exactly the game we need right now.
You start by choosing your DJ, you are offered a selection of eight pre-set DJs but the game offers a healthy range of customisation options, with more to unlock over time, so go wild with it and make something iconic to inspire the masses. Style Tokens are available for levelling up to help you unlock new outfits and new stages elements, like fireworks,
The basics of the game are easy to follow, each disc is broken into four components: Beat, bass, rhythm, and vocals. These correlate to a coloured button on your controller. You have four spots on your deck to fill with these components, you take your pointer over the disc you are interested in, hit the button representing the component you want to use and off you go.
Fuser’s campaign will carefully take you through all the technical ins and outs of running a perfect deck, introducing more sophisticated techniques with each slot on the festival line-up you progress to. The game will even let you drop multiples of the same type of sound if you wish, you can eject, mute, or isolate sounds as you see fit and even do things like optimising all of the individual parts so they are hitting the same BPMs. A lot is going on in Fuser but it guides you through it carefully so you can be the best DJ possible. All while offering a nice variety of genres to ease you into different styles. The tracks available are a good mix of modern hits and older classics; have you ever wondered what The Clash, Rick Astley, Young MC, and Billie Eilish sounds like together? I know and it’s incredible.
You handpick your ‘crate’ of discs for each set, new tracks can be bought with Music Tokens that are earned by levelling up. Later in the game, you can unlock Instruments, allowing you to create simple loops to insert into the mix, plus unique effects to filter your sound through. When you find a perfect mix you can create snapshots that save that mix, making it easy to return to that configuration in future performances.
Things like timing your drops can initially be tricky, keeping up with fan requests and meeting all of the criteria for each stage can get on top of you, but the fundamentals of Fuser are so airtight that anyone can pick up this game and feel like a rock star DJ. With even the most basic grasp of the game mechanics, you can spin some absolute bangers, Freestyle mode will allow you to experiment without fear of a fail state and hone your craft. Harmonix has ensured every component is optimised perfectly so whatever concoction you conjure up with will sound Good As Hell, as Lizzo says in one of the many tracks available to you.
Co-op freestyle and Battle modes are available for you to combine forces with other DJs or do your best to shame their skills, whatever you prefer. Battle mode lets you compete on your timing so you can override your opponent's track, cut parts of their song out, lock them into certain tracks with no chance to switch. It gets ruthless but it is very entertaining and inventive, much like everything else in Fuser.
There is an in-game store, and at the time of writing this feature was unavailable, but it is worth emphasising that everything you get in the game can be accessed by progressing through the game, there is no monetisation locking you out of content. The more you play Fuser, the more content you have at your disposal.
Fuser is easy to pick up and enjoy, even a catastrophic set will make you feel like you are spinning out certified smash hits, but it offers such technical depth that mastering the game will take time, time that will be spent completely entertained.
Fuser brings something so essential and something so sorely missed with the recent absence of a Rock Band or Guitar Hero game; the rush that comes from feeling part of the music that shapes our lives. Through the decks of this game, we get to interact with the music we love and reshape it in our vision, we get a new perspective and a new level of connection to these familiar and beloved sounds. Set against the backdrop of large-scale music festivals, Fuser also brings something else vital and welcome to our video game landscape; it recreates the exhilarating communal experience of live music in our homes during a time where the sight of a huddled mass of revellers feels like a relic of the pre-COVID times, something we cannot be sure we will see again anytime soon. This game is more than just incredible, challenging entertainment, it feels like a way to reconnect with normality and community and the unparalleled joys of live music. It is such a welcome surprise and one I will be returning to constantly.
Fuser will be on sale for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC from 10th November.