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The Great Fusion

The Great Fusion


Developer: Loading Home The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2015.02.25
Genre: SciFi / Comedy
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click









There are different kinds of science fiction stories. One, most recognisable group has spaceships, aliens, time travel, and all that cool stuff. Then there are other kind of science fiction stories which deal more with how the society is going to develop, and what kind of changes human every day life is going to go through. The Great Fusion doesn't have too much of anything from the first group, but is well established in the latter. The game is set in the year 2022, which is so near that most players are going to see that emerging with their own eyes.

The story goes something like this, all countries in the world went through The Great Fusion, which for all practical purposes left only one worldwide country to exist. The middle class disappeared, and 98 percent of people are poor, with a small elite group being the rich and wealthy that form the remaining 2 percent. Almost everything is state-controlled, and copyright crimes, such as possessing illegal software, are among the worst possible crimes. One day Max, the protagonist who is a software engineer and completely broke, ends up possessing a pirate copy of Pong, the first video game ever made (according to the game, at least).

The protagonist in his apartment building.The protagonist in his apartment building.
It is a quite bizarre story to begin with, and it gets weirder as the game proceeds further. The Great Fusion has this weird charm to it, telling an unusual story bundled together with strange kind of humour, much of which is clearly inspired by LucasArts. There are more references to LucasArts, Nintendo, and other games that one really cares to count. And that's all cool, it never hurts to tell the source of inspiration.

Another noteworthy feature of the game is its graphical style. Backgrounds are a bit like impressionist paintings, very much unlike any usual computer game background art. The story is told by comic book sequences where one would usually see cutscenes. The characters themselves are well drawn and animated cartoon characters, which would fit right into many games that are completely cartoon style. Surprising as it may be, the whole package actually works very well despite its many different, and partially conflicting graphical styles. It is great to see that some developers don't play safe, and dare to experiment with weird mishmashes and mismatches, and even pull it off so that it actually works!

What really isn't as great is how the game itself works. It is a very, very traditional point-and-click game. This means that you need to be revisiting same locations to see if something has changed, and in order to trigger that change and make some object or function become available, talk X times to person A. Very classic indeed, not necessarily very classy anymore, but supposedly the developers are very fond of the classic adventure game formula. You can't die or get permanently stuck, so if the game is not going anywhere, revisiting all locations and talking with all characters should fix the problem. The game offers some hints here and there, but the problem is well presented in the tutorial part of the game: it instructs player to combine objects in the inventory, but doesn't mention which objects should be combined. So for less experienced players the game can present unintended difficulties simply because the way it is.

A justified breakup, if there ever was one!A justified breakup, if there ever was one!
The developers have also forced some things into fetch quests that don't flawlessly blend in. For instance, you use mobile phone to advance in the game at times. As a cool gimmick, the mobile phone in the game shows the same time as the computer the player is using. But you can't use that mobile phone to take pictures, you must find a camera. The protagonist even comments how and why there is no possibility to use phones to take pictures, so clearly the developers needed to explain this somehow in the narrative, as it doesn't make much sense. Another example of a fetch quest is that you have access to a kitchen, but you need to do something to someone to actually find food. The comedy aspect of the game covers some of the logical pitfalls, but not perfectly.

Some things in the game are a bit difficult to identify. OK, so the story goes that all countries become one. But if this happens as soon as 2022, you might expect to see some clear characteristics of where the game is taking place. But some aspects of it are kind of American, like the way the police characters look, but then again some things are very European, like the entrance to Metro (and not subway or underground), and the fact that the game has a currency that uses € symbol. Many characters have names that could be English. There is no voice acting, so there's not even any hint in that. So, it's a bit of a mystery where the game is supposed to happen, but maybe that is irrelevant.

Spanish adventure games have a reputation of having some rough-edge humour to the point where it crosses over the line between good and bad taste for some people. In this regard, The Great Fusion is no exception. There is some strong language in it, although the f-bomb is not dropped, but more than that, there are things and situations which some players can't and won't appreciate for sure. And near the end of the game there is toilet humour, in the most literal sense possible.

Toilet humour.Toilet humour.
There is an unfortunate quality drop in the game. While it starts off as somewhat witty, intriguing and unique adventure, in the end it's something different. It's great that people acknowledge the source of inspiration, but the balance tilts much too far to the fan game side when the protagonist meets Leisure Suit Larry and George from Broken Sword, and then Quentin Tarantino and Woody Allen, or at least their lookalikes, in succession. And when the end of the game is loaded with childish toilet humour and stuff, the end of the game is not very intelligent, even though as a form of some weird social commentary a certain German politician makes an unexpected appearance too. Maybe that's what the developers are referring to when stating that the game has "current affairs remarks with nods to social criticism".

Overall The Great Fusion is fun to play, and has some surprising elements to it, mostly in the form of rough humour. The biggest issue is that it feels as if the developers have thrown in ideas which they thought were good, and many of them indeed are, but there wasn't someone sitting on the producer's chair telling them to axe some ideas out of the game. In the end the game tries to be in too many places at once. Combining crazy humour with serious social commentary is not an easy task, and neither part alone is that strong in the game. The unique blending of graphical styles is nice to look at, and it is kind of fascinating to play the game, as there are absolutely no guarantees what is going to happen next, anything goes. What remains unanswered is how serious a crime illegal copying actually is in the developers' minds. If the game is supposed to be a critical statement against things like too tight copyright laws, then would they be completely OK with players downloading an illegal copy of their game?
(AdventureDoor is against piracy, so buy your warez legally!)

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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