Diablo meets The Boys is the four-word elevator pitch of Stitch Heads and Raw Fury's new isometric hack and slasher - and judging from the amount of loot, blood and minced limbs I saw in my hands on demo last week, I'd say they're pretty bang on the money, albeit with an extra dash of Borderlands thanks to its cel-shaded comic book visuals. Whichever way you slice it, though, Superfuse makes a striking and violent first impression.
Perhaps it's because I'm playing as its Berserker class, a large walking slab of man muscle whose axe and (comically large) fists can pulverise anything and everything standing in its way. Or maybe it's because the devs have given me free rein of the game's extensive skill tree, letting me pile in dozens of points into attacks, abilities and power-ups normally reserved for later on. Superfuse may be a loot-driven hack and slash with hundreds of different weapons and armour components to pick from, but its skill tree is equally vast, giving you as much flexibility in how your attacks play out onscreen as your various wardrobe choices - and some of its effects are deliciously gory.
It's all thanks to its titular fuses. Each class can assign up to six different abilities in Superfuse - in my demo, four of them were assigned to QWER, while my two main attacks were bound to my right and left mouse click (a little finicky when I also had to click to move - while holding down shift - but we made it work). It was these latter two I ended up pumping most of my skill points into. First up was my Slam attack, a classic punch the ground type affair that does extra damage than a regular punch. There are plenty of passive upgrades to unlock here, such as increasing its power, area of effect and so on, but it's the fuses you're really after.
When a fuse slot opens up, you can really start morphing the attack into your special blend of delightful destruction. They're split into several different categories, allowing you to apply the effect at the start of an attack, when it hits, when it kills, or when it ends. Fork, for example, will split any projectile attack into three smaller projectile attacks, helping you spread the damage over a much larger area. Mirror, meanwhile, will duplicate a copy of those projectiles behind you, and Ricochet will let projectiles bounce off walls.
There are dozens more you can apply, too, but even just having these three in play proved to be a devastatingly powerful combo. Combine all of those with Slam's Shockwave ability (and pile some points into its accompanying effectiveness option to increase the width of said shockwaves), for example, and your big ground punch will now ripple out forwards, backwards and, if you're in a tight corridor (as you quite often are in Superfuse's procedurally generated levels), bounce back off the walls. It's a jolly good fun to watch, but also highly effective at mowing down its large crowds of enemies - and when there's no dodge roll to try and get out of harm's way (at least not in my demo build), you'll need to make quick work of these hordes to keep progressing. You can also tap 1 and 2 to top up your health and stamina meters, I should note, but they're also on a timer, so you can't spam them relentlessly if you end up getting overwhelmed.
I should also note that I was playing Superfuse solo during my demo, and the devs told me they're still working out how to make all of these flashy attacks a) feasible and b) legible when more players are in the mix. Superfuse will support up to four player co-op when it hits early access later this year, with a full release planned for 2023, and making sure everyone's respective PCs don't all grind to a halt as it deals with four fused-up death machines is one of their top priorities.
It's certainly a system I want to see more of, and I'll be interested to see how its other classes work in tandem with the Berserker as well - although whether its somewhat trad story of souped-up humans bashing in skulls for a dodgy corporate elite called The Gods will be enough to hold people's attention long enough to find out, only time will tell. If its skill trees all come together nicely, I reckon this could be a great button (or should that be mouse?) masher to catch up with friends over. Commiserate on football scores while reducing ice golems to slush. Re-litigate each other's best Marvel rankings while mulching zombies into itty bitty flesh chunks. That sort of thing.
There's a lot of good old-fashioned eviscerating to be had here, so if the macro, MMO hacking and slashing of Lost Ark has left you, too, feeling like grey carpet and you're after something a little closer to home, then perhaps keep an eye on Superfuse. There's still no word on when it will be punching its way into early access, but it should be arriving on Steam before the end of the year.