Shout outs to Lewis Pugh of Leuvsion, former Infendo host and now can be found at Nintendo Voice, for providing me with a download code for this game a few weeks before it comes out on November 3rd. This, in coincidentally both Lewis and my words, is what happens when you take Metroid’s open world design, Shantae’s sense of humor and dialogue and even some of the combat designs, throw some crazy SNES style story in and maybe sprinkle some pet simulator like Tamagotchi on top for a special mechanic, and a bunch of other tiny details, and you’ve got Twisted Fusion.
This has been a few years in the making, being kickstarted back in March of 2014. We play as Cora, a young girl who finally gets to go outside now that she’s finished her chores.
She meets with her friends, whom give her her water pistols (which become your primary weapons) to shoot targets with. Suddenly, Cora and her friends Erika and MiSha are enveloped in a dark haze and whisked away to a mysterious world.
The clear life lesson here folks is to never do your chores. You don’t want to find yourself on a strange planet, do you?
They land on planet Evan, and at this point you can switch between the three girls and three male characters, two of which are cameos from Lewis’ upcoming game “21 Days.” Ryan, the third male character, was a Kickstarter reward given to a lucky backer; these six characters (and all other unlockable characters) seem to be identical at first, but we’ll get into that later.
The new area that your team finds themselves in is your new main overworld. This map is huge, and if you were to run straight across it it would take you about ten minutes – but that’s where the majestic mountains of Evan (and some old-school 8-bit inspiration) play a factor, and make every screen have multiple different areas and hidden platforms that you can jump and fly to, some requiring you to go many screens left or right just to come back through the labrynth to get to your destination; be it a treasure chest, an NPC, or a plethora of other goodies littered throughout the map. And trust me, there’s a lot to find here: if you want to collect every hidden trinket, you’re easily looking to double your playtime.
As you progress along your travels on Evan, you’ll enter forest caverns, frozen towns, ghosty creatures, skeletons with silly crowns, and plenty of other different and exciting sights. The main objective of the game is to collect the six Sun Stones to open the portal to take you back home to Earth, and the only way to do this is to travel the Evan realm and find the six large towers that hold these crucial treasures within them.
As of writing this review, I’ve collected three out of the six Sun Stones and am currently fighting my way to my fourth (and maybe fifth, but no spoilers there!), and each tower is a whole different bag of kittens than the one you were at before. They can be played in any order depending on how you traverse the world, so if you happen to be brave and take on the Twisted Tunnels and you find yourself at Edge Point right next to the Web Tower, you might as well take it on! (Helpful hint though, this tower is a freaking maze.) Finding some of these towers is a challenge in itself, but it’s rewarding to walk up to them and prepare yourself for the insanity that lies within. (Another helpful hint, when you find a tower, fly to the top of the outside for a treasure chest with lots of money inside!) Each tower has a whole splew of rooms inside them, some requiring you to hit switches to open paths in other rooms or to collect keys to unlock doors – your typical adventure style dungeon in this regard. The more advanced towers are chock full of spikes that will kill you instantly, and they’re usually laid around winding paths that require you to manage your flying ability (which we’ll discuss later). There are no direct powerups in any of the towers to get, because the game doesn’t work powerups in that regard, but there are plenty of treasure chests with money inside, and one hidden giant chest locked behind a blue key door that will give you an extra heart and even more cash.
If you manage to make it to the top of the towers, you’re greeted with a tiny room with a giant boss monster. These guys aren’t playing around either – they take way more damage than the runts you’ll find everywhere else, and they’re known to shoot out quick attacks that’ll drain your health faster than an open water drain. These battles really call upon your ability to make quick attack decisions and know when you dodge and fall back. You could easily fly over them forever, but then you’re not going to hurt them so you really can’t get away with taking an easy way out. Slay the monster, get an extra heart, and collect your Sun Stone! (REALLY helpful hint, go back and fight them again for another heart, but you can only get two from each boss.)
There’s extra rooms in every tower just built to eat your keys and not take you where you want to go, so if you’re playing conservatively you may want to try and figure out where each door may lead before you venture forward. Fear not though, as there’s always enough keys to open every door! You just need to put on your adventure hat and get looking!
Cora is your typical teenage girl (Before she got whisked away to another planet that is), and every typical teenage girl has a smartphone. When you start out, the phone (which is the pause menu) has just three apps: the clock that tells you what time it is in the game, which you can control or pause at will and doing so affects the spawns of certain monsters; the weather, which on Earth means nothing, but when it rains in Evan the monsters get angry, so it’s best to know what the forecast will be; and the GPS which does absolutely nothing at the beginning of the game but will eventually flesh out to be your fast travel navigation once you find certain checkpoints.
By the time you’ve hit ground on Evan however, magic forces have turned your phone into a super useful device that will allow you to check your game progress, look at captured monsters, change characters and more. Everything that isn’t running, flying or shooting is handled through this device.
Characters and Collectibles
As mentioned, the tale of Twisted Fusion has a rather robust retainer of red-haired (and some blue hair) people to play as. At first, all you’re introduced to is Cora, who is the standard shooter with her basic moves. Every other character, be it Erika or the Go-Go character you can unlock (Go-Go are peaceful eyeball creatures that help Cora and Crew travel the world – some are free-living, some are trapped in goop), is the same in these terms of basic moves.
It’s not until you start purchasing upgrades (the only way to enhance your character outside of the hearts you get in towers) that you start noticing each character has their own important gift to the world. They can all use the unlockable jet pack (seriously, we’ve gone from water guns to jet packs) to fly into the skies of Evan, as well as the venerable charge shot (what classic adventure game is complete without a charge shot?) and the dash boots (it seems as if Lewis has been playing Metroid lately); but the special move purchase is where things get fancy, and I recommend buying this immediately. Every character is unique: the girls all have water based specials, from water bombs to rapid-fire fire hydrants.
The men however (whom are all available from the start), all have elemental specials that match the elements of the overworld monsters: acid, fire, electric and spirit. These types all form a competitive chart, where each type is stronger to another type:
- Acid beats spirit
- Spirit beats electricity
- Electricity beats fire
- Fire beats acid
When you kill a monster, regardless of type of attack or type of monster, they will drop a mixture of coins (purchase those upgrades!), health and eggs. The eggs that they drop can be hatched in the My Monsters app on Cora’s phone via use of monster food, also dropped by the monsters and comes in four types: again, one type for each monster.
If you’re struggling to get through the game, there are also skill upgrades for your jump, attack, defense and speed as well as resistance boosters. The skill upgrades can be purchased up to 9 times each to stack extra power to each, whereas the resistance boosters are only good once. This means you’ll eventually have a lot of leftover money, but there’s a secret shop somewhere to spend your money on.
On top of the money you get from monsters, if you rescue the aforementioned gooped Go-Go’s, you get Sacred Orbs that can be used to unlock other characters (like a Go-Go) or skins for Cora. The game constantly gives you more ways to play, including side quests to kill x amount of monsters or collect x items, the Battle Tower that you can take your collected monsters to to collect diamonds, to the need to visit every part of the planet to unlock all the GPS locations, this game can be extremely replayable if you’re looking for more content.
This is a mode I haven’t personally touched, but the game sports a New Super Mario Bros. Wii style multiplayer that allows for up to a total of five people to play at once using different controllers. You all share the same life meter and there seems to be an increase of monsters to fight when you’ve got more players, but this can be exceptionally useful (or terrible if you’ve got mischievous friends) for towers where there are multiple ways to go and lots of trouble to be found.
- Collecting monster eggs and raising them up for the battle tower is an awesome challenge, and it really emphasizes the “fusion” part of the game’s title when you get to fuse monsters together to create other beings. Be careful to select the more powerful monster first however – the fused monster uses the initial monster’s experience points.
- There are a total of 66 sidequests you can do that are given to you by mages and other NPC characters. In my time playing before this review, I’ve completed three of them alongside the story and collecting monsters, and I’m 13 hours into the game.
- If you’re having too hard or too easy a time playing Twisted Fusion, there is a difficulty slider that allows you to scale it from 1 to 9 in terms of how much you want the game to pressure you. Higher levels mean more rewards though, and if you’re unable to take down a high level monster, moving the slider down may result in an instant death for the baddie.
- The scaling scenery and treacherous travels on planet Evan Really do hold many surprises, and it takes a lot of brain work to get hidden Go-Go’s, or to find every treasure chest.
- The game saves itself every time you enter a door, and it does so extremely quickly (it can do this due to the extremely long initial startup of the game) so not only do you always have a save point, but it doesn’t get in the way of playing.
- Trying to figure out which character comes in handy the most in each situation adds a layer of depth to the combat, and encourages you to save all the Go-Go’s to unlock all the characters (I said before that there were 6 characters open at launch, but some of the unlockable ones have elemental powers).
- The game can be played in any order that you want and in any style as well. You don’t need to collect hundreds of monsters if you don’t want to. Nor do you need to collect every Sacred Orb. It gives the game a range of about 7 to maybe 40 hours on your first playthrough depending on what you decide you want to do.
- The towers you enter to embark on your mission to return home are so large and winding that they’re really not conductive for broken up play-styles. If you want to take down a tower, either write notes and a map (because the game gives you no map) or take it down all in one go so you don’t get lost trying to find out which doors you’ve been in and which switches you’ve pushed.
- The background in the overworld is beautiful and has excellent parallax scrolling, but the insides of the towers all look the same no matter where you are and this aides in the ability to get lost.
- There are a few technical glitches in the game such as some doors being locked but not needing keys, and the game not keeping track of how many things you’ve done properly. These aren’t massive issues and miniscule when you remember that there was only one man developing the game, but it does make things a bit harder when trying to complete the game.
If you’re looking for a new indie game to try, Twisted Fusion is easily a top choice. You’ve got a whole world to explore, mysteries to solve, water guns to shoot, and cute little eyeball creatures to save. It feels extremely indie at its core, with the graphics looking a bit underwhelming, but it makes up for this with the incredible amount of detail and creativity the game has that allows you to have creativity in terms of how you play it.
If you have the choice between getting a new game and doing your chores, get this game. We all know now what happens when you do those chores!