Like Gatsby, I guess I know the power of the green light. Out on the dock, down in the dungeon - the light! The light! I reach for it. I can't wait. It's not love. It's better than love. It's - wait! It's only the chance to split my fireballs into three and ping them all off in different directions.
Superfuse is an action RPG very much in the style of the Diablo games, You see things from an above-ish angle, and you are small as you crawl across the various faces of the game's worlds, surrounded by hordes of swarming, kiting nasties who it is altogether a pleasure to smash to pieces. You kill, and you get more powerful as you kill. More XP, which means levels and skill points. More gold. More loot. More of an understanding, perhaps, of how the game likes to stage a fight.
And then! The green light.
Green - a strange, wintergreen, dental office green - is the colour of a specific kind of loot. Fuses! Fuses are not armour or weapons. They are runes, essentially, that you can slot into your skill to do something cool to it. If you're like - HEY! That sounds like the Rune system promised and then not used for Diablo 3! - you're kind of right. Diablo 3 was to have hundreds of runes you could slot into any skill and get a result. A frog attack might become a rain of frogs or flaming frogs or one giant frog! But that never happened. It hasn't quite happened here, either, but it's still pretty cool.
Runes - sorry, Fuses - slot into a skill and make it behave differently. Maybe the fireball divides in three. Maybe it pings off in a zig zag. You can add more fuses to each skill if you can make the placement tetris work, and this is where the fun of the game lies. Fuses can tweak different parts of the skill - they can come at the start, or at the end. They can give you greater cash rewards for kills or set things on fire. It all means that when I play Superfuse, I look for that little flash of wintergreen on the battlefield that tells me something cool is coming my way. You know these games. I wait for town to try on new armour. I might even wait for town to spend skill points. But when a fuse appears I stop everything. I have to know what I'm getting, and how it will change the way I am at the moment.
If there's a drawback, and it's way, way too early to say if there's a drawback, as I've only been playing for a few mornings, it's that the skills themselves might be rather generic, in order to allow you to them flare them in interesting ways. I played for a while as the sort of caster class - fire and ice on two different skill trees. They were both everything I could expect in the early stages of skill unlocks: fireballs, a ring of fire, the ability to set myself on fire, ice projectiles. But they only became truly fun when the fuses came into play. That's the point of fuses, I guess. Maybe it's enough!
After a save wipe as the game officially entered early access I left the caster behind and went with the sort of weird pet class on offer. Two skill trees here: metal and minions. I wander around with a huge exoskeleton that makes me look like a daddy long legs and I conjure nasty little bitey things and decoy bitey things, and I smash people with rusty projectiles. It's fun, and I'm still looking for the fuses. I'm dreaming of what the next fuse will do to my minions. The bitey one, and the decoy! Onwards.
Beyond the fuses, Superfuse is a wonderfully straight ahead action RPG. There are towns where you pick up quests and sell loot. There are procedural areas to explore, Roomba-ing about for XP. The whole thing is space and comic book themed, which means gantries and mutant horrors and asteroid mines and halftone splayed across the screen. In its opening hours for sure, Superfuse is happy to be pulpy, and happy to give people the kinds of quests that they expect: reach the fast travel point, kill a certain number of things and collect a certain number of things, find out what happened to my friend Bill and then kill him when it turns out he became a monster.
I love this. I'm always in the market for a new action RPG and Superfuse is generous and fun. It's surprisingly happy to fill the screen with monsters from an early stage, its procedural tile sets look good and make me feel like I'm space truckin' out there on the economic frontiers of the galaxy, and there's always something cool to try out when it comes to the next unlock, and the next fuse. What's weird about this genre, I think, is that as much as I crave new wrinkles - the fuses! A different approach to classes! - when I play a new game, I'm always hoping it settles into the way I play the old games, when I alternate between being underlevelled and overlevelled, and when I switch between neatly killing everything I come across and just racing past mobs that could easily do me in with one hit, kiting every one as I reveal more and more of the map.