Over the past few days, I've been trying to put into words my opinion about the tonal shift we've seen from Overstrike to Fuse. I would really appreciate it if you all could hear me out on why I'm sad to see the old style go, but glad we saw this evolution take place.
When Overstrike was first announced at E3 2011, I was beyond excited. The visuals were stylish, the writing hysterical, and the tone was light and fun. All of these elements came together and made Insomniac’s new IP look truly different from anything else on the market. Flash-forward to today and you'll notice that Fuse (formerly known as Overstrike) has taken on a somewhat different vibe. Where Dalton was sarcastic and witty in the Overstrike reveal, he's cold and angry in Fuse's Mission Briefing. The exaggerated character models seem to have been toned back. And overall, the game’s story and presentation feel fairly heavier than before. The biggest reason Overstrike resonated so well with me was because it looked like a game that didn’t take itself too seriously; something that seems to have been dropped in the transition to Fuse.
So needless to say, Fuse is pretty different from what I had expected. But you know what? I'm still as excited as ever, just for different reasons.
Walking into IG last week, the big question on everyone’s mind was, “What happened to Overstrike?” And that was one of the first thing addressed in the presentation. After debuting the game at E3, the team found that it was gradually becoming darker and more violent as they continued experimenting with the weapons and discovering what truly drives their game. The decision to take Fuse in a more serious direction wasn’t instantaneous. EA didn’t give them an ultimatum and it wasn’t a split-second decision in an attempt to “sell out.” At the heart of it all, the reason Insomniac changed Overstrike to Fuse is simple: Some of the elements just didn’t fit into the game they’re making. It’s impossible to tell what would’ve happened had Insomniac restricted itself to the original style of Overstrike and not allowed the experimentation and growth that led to the tonal shift present today in Fuse. But if we could see how things played out had Insomniac stuck with Overstrike, I bet we’d see an exhausted team struggling to get their project out the door.
After playing the game myself (check out some impressions here), I can honestly say that I have more concerns about how people will react to Fuse than I have about the game itself. Over the next few days, there are going to be a lot of angry reactions on the web (as alluded to by Fuse’s immediate crucifixion upon announcement). So while I can understand and relate to upset fans of Overstrike, I think it’s important to bear in mind that IG has already thought long and hard about our reactions. While talking with a couple of Fuse’s developers, it became immediately apparent to me that all of the extremely difficult decisions Insomniac makes are made in the best interest of us, the gamers. Everything IG does, is done with the sole intention of creating the best possible game for us to play. There’s a certain amount of faith that goes into this type of reasoning, but after years of unwavering fan service, Insomniac has surely earned my trust.
Would I have enjoyed Overstrike more than Fuse? I’ll never know. What I do know is, Insomniac has a long history of delivering fantastic experiences. They know better than anyone what’s best for their games. For this reason, I urge you to approach Fuse with an open mind. It may not be exactly what you had expected or hoped for, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited. But if you do decide to write off Fuse because of these new changes, just know that you’ll be missing out on one incredible experience.