This weeks 3Bit review is for a small indie title we have been following for a long time now and are very excited to share it with you. That's right, we are reviewing Fuzz Force: Spook Squad! The debut game of indie developer Fuzz Force. Here at 3Bit, we have watched Fuzz Force: Spook Squad grow during its early access run this year and now, with version 1.0 finally available to play, we can share with you our honest thoughts on this Indie Title. But how did Fuzz Force: Spook Squad survive the 3Bit review gauntlet? Was it a lucky roll or snake eyes for the anthropomorphic cast? You can find out for yourself below.
Gameplay: I Ain't Afraid of No Dice
"Fuzz Force: Spook Squad ses a brilliant turn-based dice rolling system, which makes no two fights the same when it comes to combat"
Fuzz Force: Spook Squad is designed to play like a deck builder/ Rogue-lite, only with a rather unique twist. There are no cards in your deck. Instead, you use dice, further increasing the challenge, especially early game where luck really needs to be on your side! As you progress through the game, you can come across dice and upgrade your currently equipped dice, but progression at first can be a real challenge. Thankfully aside from that, the gameplay is inherently quite simple. Fuzz Force: Spook Squad is set up to play like a board game, where you move your anthropomorphic character over one mystery tile at a time, exploring the environment as much or as little as you want. When stood on a tile, those adjacent to you will warn you what you are about to bump into, whether it be a fight, chest, shop or even mini-boss, allowing you to plan all the moves ahead of you as you work your way to the stage's boss and ultimately the next level. I had a lot of fun exploring each level, as though the stages design is the same in every stage (Forest, house, attic, roof), the tile layout is always randomised. I had one play through where the only way I could progress was by fighting a mini boss on my first turn. Yet, on another playthrough, I was completely uninterrupted by battles all the way to the boss steps, meaning any combat I had ahead of me was optional.
Fuzz Force: Spook Squad uses a brilliant turn-based dice rolling system, which makes no two fights the same when it comes to combat. Each skill has 2 dice you can use along with many buffs, which can be gained through abilities, and levelling. Some of these buffs and abilities include status effects to yourself and enemies or bonus rolls for other skills such as shields when attacking. Fuzz Force isn't a game where you can continually spam attacks much like similar turn-based battle games like Pokémon. Instead, you will have to take advantage of all 3 main abilities set out for you, attack, Shields and charge. Attacks and shields rely on a battery life, which is always displayed. We can recharge this in the heat of battle through the charge function, allowing us to continue hitting hard at the cost of a turn. However, if you fail to charge your battery, you will find yourself down a dice or 2, as your main dice for both shields and attack can only match the dice roll if the battery number is the same as the roll or above it. This level of power management means you always have to be on your toes, be it fighting a normal enemy in the first level or one of the many bosses that will really take advantage of the upper hand you have given them. Adding to this you have Fuzz Force: Spook Squad's very own critical roll system, “Lucky Numbers”. The lucky number system is a brilliant replacement to critical attacks as it allows you to choose which number it activates on. Rolling your lucky number on your main dice will give you a second turn, giving you the opportunity to deal massive damage or make two different moves before the enemy has a chance to strike back.
On top of the 3 main abilities, you also have your special move, which will progressively charge with each battle. Each of Fuzz Forces' colourful characters has its own unique ability that can turn the tides of battle, from dealing massive damage to opponents to applying shields and giving your character the skill to dodge all in one turn. This skill really did bring a sense of uniqueness to each character within the roster for Fuzz Force: Spook Squad, as it meant each character had their own unique strategies, adding to the games overall replayability. Coupled with the unique ability in battle, each character also carries a unique passive trait. For example, Finn the Fox would gain an extra attack dice if his battery was above 18, whilst Dotty, the dog, would gain a bonus dice for charge if attacking twice in a row. These unique abilities also changed the playstyle enough for each character to take away from the risk of a monotonous cycle found in some rogue-lite games.
Fuzz force further adds to its replayability with a series of modifiers or bonuses that can be applied before a battle. At the cost of either 2 ghost jars (unlockable in-game currency) or 1HP, you can roll 2 dice before any action, such as combat, opening a chest or entering a shop. The modifiers can either make a situation much better by dealing status elements to a foe or discounting shop costs or can make the game a lot harder by buffing enemy stats, including HP or even turning a chest into a mimic, making for an incredibly tough battle (especially early game). This gamble can really make you think sometimes, especially if your health is low, as it can make the difference between a winning run and a losing run and also adds a whole new level of challenge to Fuzz Force: Spook Squad. Another fantastic element to the game is the 2 ways of upgrading. The first, we mentioned briefly where you could up swap and upgrade your dice to give you higher rolls than your former dice. On top of this, some dice will also give status buffs and debuffs, including poison, an additional shield, and burn damage. But dice aren't the only thing you can upgrade, as you can also upgrade your weapon through modules. Modules will buff your character both inside and outside battle. A few particular buffs I came across included bonus status effect damage, a chance for healing potions to refresh after use and bonus dice for a specific battle move i.e. shield. These upgrade options can really change up the game, and much like the bonus rolls can make or break your run through the stages, as the only way you are obtaining these buffs is through winning battles or forking out for them massively at the store.
Graphics: Not Just Another Board Game
"The overall character design for the 4 main heroes is fantastic, as each character is unique in appearance and in the expressions they make throughout the game."
The art style and level design for Fuzz Force: Spook Squad are fantastic! The first thing I love about Fuzz Force is the level design. The detail that has gone into the board and its surroundings are incredible! When you look at the top of the board, you will see all your dice and stats on a card, whilst to the right, you will see all the enemy pieces that have been defeated, bringing a real home gaming vibe to Fuzz Force. Moving onto the levels themselves, each tile gives a real sense of the surroundings, which is further emphasised when entering a battle, where the environment is changed from the isometric view of a board to a more third-person perspective, drawing you into each battle for a more immersive experience. The character models are another praiseworthy moment. While looking like a board game piece, each character is well animated both as a moving piece and its own character. The overall character design for the 4 main heroes is fantastic, as each character is unique in appearance and in the expressions they make throughout the game. Much like the level design, key details haven't been missed out on, as you will see when doing tasks such as switching modules in your weapons, you will notice your character holding the module when it could have just as easily been left in a menu window.
Another great aspect of the character design is the enemies. From tutorial to the final boss, every stage has several unique enemy types and bosses, each with its own characteristics and some bizarre combinations of 2 of the stage's creatures for mini-bosses. I personally love the amount of effort that has gone into each stages enemies unique and even came across new ones from time to time as sometimes you won't see all enemies in your first playthrough. Much like the main characters, each enemy looks like a board game piece, but what makes these even more remarkable is the flying enemies, such as the hornet and ghost, which both have little see-through sticks, which you would often see in real board game miniatures keeping them grounded, this nice touch really brings in that extra layer of immersion to playing an actual board game.
Value for Money: Worth Every Ghost Jar
"Fuzz Force is worth its weight in treasure chests, as the overall gameplay and art style alone shows just how well made this game is. Add to that its killer soundtrack, which we will talk about in the next section, along with hours of replayability and post final boss content and challenges."
Unfortunately, Fuzz Force: Spook Squad does not carry with it much in the way of story elements; hence, we have opted to review the games' overall value for money for this review. Unfortunately, this is the weakest part of the game, with no cutscenes or dialogue other than during chance events. To score a game on something it does not have or necessarily need would be out of character for us here at 3Bit. Thankfully, the base storyline is easy to know before diving into the game through checking out the description within the Steam page. I believe a story could have just elevated Fuzz Force: Spook Squad to the next level as a game, especially with younger players, even if it were done in a Lego Star Wars way, with almost slapstick moments that lead you through a story.
However, the lack of story does not take away from the game overall. It is just something that I believe could have been an incredible finishing piece to this already fantastic game. Moving away from the Story, Fuzz Force is worth its weight in treasure chests, as the overall gameplay and art style alone shows just how well made this game is. Add to that its killer soundtrack, which we will talk about in the next section, along with hours of replayability and post final boss content and challenges. Fuzz Force: Spook Squad is undoubtedly worth its £11.39 price tag. With the amount of effort that has gone into Spook Squad, it is safe to say that this game deserves every penny spent on it, and I hope anybody who plays this spooky and addicting title after reading this review will also agree with me.
Audio: Spooky and Catchy
"Fuzz Forces Soundtrack really ties the game together as a whole, from the opening theme to the battle themes. Each piece has been brilliantly mixed to bring the game to life."
Fuzz Forces Soundtrack really ties the game together as a whole, from the opening theme to the battle themes. Each piece has been brilliantly mixed to bring the game to life. The soundtrack isn't something serious like that of Final Fantasy 7's, but instead is incredibly in keeping with the game's themes, keeping it upbeat and, most importantly, fun! When you play a game over, as you do in rogue-lite's, you can expect a soundtrack to get quite annoying, especially when on a losing streak, but I did not find that with Fuzz Force; instead, this enjoyable music ended up becoming quite a welcome earworm, especially when capturing a ghost, which is an aspect that can often be quite rare especially with an indie game. There is no voice acting within Fuzz Force: Spook Squad, but again much like the story element, it isn't necessarily needed. The sound effects are given where they are needed, with each move having their own unique sounds, including status ailments. That alone is honestly more than enough for this title which has kept it simple yet extremely effective.
Gameplay: I Ain't Afraid of No Dice
Graphics: Not Just Another Board Game
Value for Money: Worth Every Ghost Jar
Audio: Spooky and Catchy
Overall, Fuzz Force: Spook Squad is an incredible and addicting game that combines strategy and rogue-lite gameplay perfectly with chance. Whilst this game might seem difficult at first, it can also be mastered with ease by players of all ages once you get into the swing of things. During this review, I failed to mention how fast-paced this game felt, with each round having a "speed run" challenge of completing the game within 45 minutes. While a bit challenging at first, this challenge is made possible by how seamless the turns are as you go between your character and the enemy. This in itself removes a common stigma with turn-based games in which people often say they are slow or take too long. With this in mind and the rest of the review, ranging from gameplay, audio, graphics, and value for money, we are giving Fuzz Force: Spook Squad an overall 8 bits out of 10. This indie game is ideal for gamers of all ages and can be enjoyed by children, teens, and adults as you take on the rogue-lite experience like never before. You can check out Fuzz Force: Spook Squad for yourself here, and I hope you enjoy this indie title as much as I have.
Great Character Variations
Genuinely Fun Luck Based Gameplay
Fun and Stylish Graphics
No Storyline In The Game
Can Be Brutally Hard At Times