Last year at E3, Insomniac Games released a teaser trailer for Overstrike. While the trailer didn't show any in-game footage, a number of things could be gleaned from it: It was likely to be an action oriented shooter; there are four unique characters, each with their own combat styles; weapons and mechanics, and there would be an emphasis on cooperative gameplay with the combination of weapon effects and abilities. Until last week, however, the developers have been fairly tight lipped about the game. The reason for this is that the game has changed from the initial teaser. At a recent preview event, we got some insight into the design process and the reasons for the changes with hands on time with a demo of a level and a boss fight. Overstrike is now titled Fuse, and I have to admit I'm a little conflicted about it. The gameplay is certainly up to Insomniac's high standard and pedigree, but some of the changes since the original teaser are disappointing.
The biggest issue for me is the change in tone, setting and aesthetics; Fuse seemingly strips away all the charm we saw in that original trailer. What was outlandish and light hearted has become more gritty and grounded. Perhaps it's a lesson in curbing enthusiasm, but I was genuinely excited for Overstrike and it filled a current gaming void. We are certainly not wallowing neck deep in games with a stylized and campy setting that's evocative of film series like James Bond. Sure there's No One Lives Forever and Evil Genius, but these are hardly recent. So it's a real shame that the premise has been ejected in favor of what on the surface appears to be utterly derivative of a dozen other titles. To be fair we only saw a small portion of the game and very little of the story, but the Modern Warfare-esque mission briefings and new gritty visuals have changed a standout into something that could be mistaken for any number of games, like Inversion or Binary Domain. I mean, come on, a super-villain-led organization with colorful henchmen and, essentially, terminators is far more interesting than another paramilitary group.
Many of the changes are centered on the restructuring around "fuse" as it exists in the game, which originally was going to be a magic-MacGuffin of sort but not a primary focus. In game lore, fuse is an alien substance that while extremely unstable also demonstrates some impressive properties. In order to exert some degree of control over it, scientists have been fusing (yes, we get it already) with other materials, and this forms the technological background behind the agent's fantastical arsenal. For instance, the mag shield used by Dalton is the result of combing fuse with ferrofluid, whereas the shattergun used by Isabella is fuse combined with a specific kind of crystal. The agents themselves will be familiar if you've watched the trailer, though the personalities have been dialed back. Dalton is still the mercenary tank, Naya the stealthy character, Jacob the crossbow sniper and Isabella "Izzy" is the spunky one. Overall think more elite team now and less the "crazy but gets the job done".