In the dystopian future, there’s no room for moral sentiment and everyone has to pull their weight. Even young Marfusha, the titular character, doesn’t get a pass and is drafted in to become a gate guard to protect what remains of the country from enemy invaders.
It’s a depressing premise for the high-tempo shooter Marfusha, the debut game of developer hinyari9. With pixel art visuals and a simple control setup being its other key features, one has to wonder whether Marfusha possesses enough of a draw to entice players in to give it a whirl. Could there be a real hook to proceedings that’s only experienced once you’re in the thick of the action?
In a way, yes.
In the main story mode you’re thrown straight into the thick of it as the seemingly unprepared and inexperienced Marfusha. After being given a measly handgun and a quick pep talk, the task is to defend the gate while it’s being attacked by a whole host of robotic enemies. You aren’t required to do so just once, but every single day during this emergency situation. Whatever happens, you must avoid letting the gate’s health bar get completely depleted; otherwise you’ll reach an untimely end.
Getting to grips with the gameplay won’t take long as everything is fairly straightforward thanks to that simple control setup. Manoeuvring Marfusha side to side in the 2.5D environment is done via the left stick, with the right stick allowing you to aim – there’s actually an aim assist line to show exactly where you’re targeting, which is handy. Firing a weapon is allocated to right trigger, and when the bullets run out, reloading is done at the press of a face button. Aside from two other buttons enabling special actions, that’s your lot and it’ll become natural in no time.
At the end of each daily shift, in-game currency is paid for your efforts, but it’s a very miserly sum. The actual basic pay amount is decent, however a raft of expenses are deducted for utilities, rent, pension, any gate repairs, and such costs that are associated with living. It’s quite apt given the depressing circumstances. This leaves a single figure salary for you to spend on one of the three cards presented to you as the day comes to a close. These are randomly selected, meaning luck plays a role in regards to the offerings actually raising your chance of success.
The cards represent many things, including increasing the attack damage, firing rate, reloading speed, magazine capacity. More importantly though, they could provide weaponry like SMGs, light machine guns, assault rifles, and shotguns. Among the other possibilities are workers for hire with a particular weapon proficiency, barricades, spikes, and turrets to help protect the gate. The variety is good and the fact that weapons have durability, forces you to switch regularly.
Initially, there’s a bit of a disconnect from the goings on because the handgun is rubbish, cash is in short supply, and the robots don’t pose too much of a threat as the numbers are minimal. Give Marfusha a horde of ground-based or flying enemies to defeat with a quick firing assault rifle though, and the slaughtering is far more satisfying. The action becomes really fast-paced and relentless, but it seldom gets exhausting due to the swift nature of each day – rarely lasting a minute unless facing a bullet sponge of a boss.
Reaching an ending in a single run through of the main mode shouldn’t take more than an hour or so. While multiple endings are obtainable, I feel like the story isn’t interesting enough to warrant repeated attempts. And so attention turns to the challenge mode, where survival for as long as possible is the aim.
There are eight different characters to unlock here, each possessing their own starting attributes and special bonus for using specific weaponry or equipment. The better you do against the increasingly difficult enemies, the more characters you’ll be able to access. Additional cards are thrown into the mix too. These new cards are quite cool, seeing grenade launchers and robot dogs available to purchase. Again though, I’m not sure how many more times anyone would want to challenge themselves after the first decent run.
On the visual front, Marfusha delivers a drab setting that’s perfectly suitable for a dystopian future and the anime style female gunners are fairly distinguishable, even in pixel form. The robot designs lack variety, with masses of similar looking foes heading your way to destroy the gate. I do think the background music is great once it gets going as it has a very high tempo to the beats, which definitely prepares you for battle.
When all is said and done, Marfusha succeeds in providing mindless shooting fun, albeit at the expense of longevity. You’ll enjoy blasting robots once you get into the flow, but beyond the short campaign and a challenge mode offering what is effectively more of the same, it’s not one to come back to regularly.
Feel free to consider Marfusha as a potential stress relieving shooter. Just know it won’t hook you in for too long.