Fuga: Melodies of Steel is the latest in developer CyberConnect2’s Little Tail Bronx Series that has spanned over 22 years on the PS1’s Tail Concerto. The latter today is mostly known for going north of $600 USD on eBay as a collectors item.
There was also another title in this series, the 2011 Nintendo DS’ Solatorobo: Red The Hunter. Although each of these three games are not necessarily related to each other, as each are on a different floating content during different time periods.
A good introduction to Fuga would be a game about a giant mech, piloted by children that are anthropomorphic dogs, while fighting the “Burman” army that is a retelling of German occupied France in the 40s.
It features turn based combat against other mechs, piloted by Burman Sheppards. The levels progress on a map style similar to FTL, but much more linear; with in between time spent upgrading your mech and getting to know the other members of your crew.
Fuga: Melodies of Steel
Platforms: Windows PC (reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date: July 29, 2021
Price: $39.99 USD
The story has us in a steampunk alternate history 1940s occupied France, as the Berman army is invading Gasco. Our title characters are caught in the crossfire of the small village of Petit Mona. During the lengthy introductory cutscene we are introduced to the Taranis, which is found in a cave that was supposedly hidden away for untold millennia.
The children use this giant tank make their way across occupied Gasco to find their missing families, which is good enough to get the plot going, and the cast is pretty enjoyable. The game can feel a little campy at times and overly dramatic, but it kind of comes with the territory.
Some of the topics discussed are concentration camps, human experimentation, and the other horrors of war. Again while it’s not a bad execution and is done well enough, it feels a bit off, and has a strong contrast in its tone.
The slightly heavy bomb they drop on you during the tutorial however is the fact that you can sacrifice one of the children in the “Soul Cannon” in order to get an instant win. This is pretty severe, and the game makes sure to remind you how sad they all are that you killed a 4-year old in order to get through that fight, which could make you reset the level over and over just to get by tough bosses.
This game was originally described to me as “Advanced Wars but with Furries.” Unfortunately it only lived up to the second part, as in it you have a Grandia style combat. You use different children to use color coded attacks to slow down or prevent the opponent from attacking, and countering their weaknesses.
The children each can use either the cannon, machine gun, or grenade launcher. Cannons hit hard but have low accuracy, while machine guns don’t pack as much of a punch but have high accuracy which is good for flying enemies, and can shred armor. The grenade launchers sit somewhere in-between the two other weapons.
You are rated for your performance in battle, and given better loot depending on how you do. This is important because the game plays a bit like FTL or a dungeon crawler, where you enter an area and are given different paths with different challenges. Harder challenges give better rewards, and the easier paths give less. However, since this is a single run, there is a bit of decision making involved in the process.
As for the difficulty I didn’t have too much trouble beating it. If you’re familiar with strategy/RPG games, level up your weapons and characters, build up the Taranis, and are decent at number crunching; you shouldn’t have too much difficulty. I do wish there was a difficulty slider or something.
Speaking of the Taranis, you go inside during the “intermission” period. There you can speak to characters, thus boosting their affinity level for stat boosts and linked attacks (think of limit breaks or special attacks). You can also spend resources to level up your base, which allows more room on your farm.
This can allow more food to be cooked for status boosts, or upgrading your weapons. The counter to this is almost every action costs AP, and you only have 20 per intermission, making you have to decide what is pertinent.
Fuga has some fantastic art. It has a very nice bright colorful art for the characters and world, and lives up to the expectations one would have for a Little Tail Bronx series game.
The animation is also top notch, but if I were to nitpick on something it would be the 3D models could have more detail to them. Part of me however thinks this is to get the game running on just about any potato system or PC, to try to appeal to the widest audience possible.
The music is also quite solid, and some of the tunes actually got stuck in my head. The battle music got a little old after a while, but I enjoyed it for the first 10 hours or so of the game.
Overall my experience with Fuga: Melodies of Steel was pretty solid, and I enjoyed the 20 or so hours I spent on it. The characters were cute, the setting was interesting, and perhaps in a less dark story this could really get fleshed out well. I just think the WW2 time period is a bit outplayed at this point, especially for a game about anthropomorphic dogs and cats.
The high points are the art style, and the strategy part of the game. At under $40 USD you can get a pretty good time out of this if you enjoy the Little Tail Bronx series, or are a fan of strategy games. With new game+ you might be able to squeeze another playthough or two out of it as well.
Fuga: Melodies of Steel was reviewed on Windows PC using a review code provided by CyberConnect2. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.