Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Indie Impressions - Fumiko!


Now Available on Steam

Developed by Fumiko Game Studio 

Fumiko! starts with a scene and music that is melancholy and soft, serene in its ambient and cybernetic way. It's a setting that leaves the player ill-prepared for the chaos within. A mainframe of order within some kind of unknown computer world that is slowly decayed by its own overbearing authority. A simple, minimalist representation of a lady A.I. stands surrounded by bits of floating data, with only one unknown and demanding voice guiding her.

This is a game and an experience that is hard to describe. It takes place in an abstract mainframe of some cybernetic security program, and you play the role of a lone A.I. who has forgotten who she is, what her purpose is, or why she was created. Much like the classic computer-animated series ReBoot, the setting is a fantastically creative imagining of the living world inside of a computer program. The different communities which serve to power the mainframe in different ways, the multiple entities and their roles, and the unknown masters who create and control the very fates and destinies of those within its system.

The core gameplay of Fumiko! is platform-driven exploration across strange and abstract constructs. Each area of low-poly retrofuture platforming tells a piece of the cryptic narrative, driving you towards the designated exit node for each stage and into the next wildly different neon playground. Stacks of bright glowing cubes stretch into the data strewn sky as you slowly earn the ability to jump multiple times in mid-air to vertically scale them for secret collectables placed on-top.

Exploration in Fumiko! is just plain fun, it's captivating and engaging in the weirdest of ways. Each area has more than enough side-areas and structures to play on and poke around for pieces of story, and every time they manage to be a psychedelic pleasure to behold. From bright and happy colored explosions of low-poly cubes to navigate to twisted and corrupted pathways of darkness tainted by viruses, each progression through the program keeps things exciting, creative and new.

The game has no problem throwing difficult situations at every curve. With already pinpoint platforming and frantic timing from timed power-ups, the addition of obstacles like invisible drones that chase you and throw you off course just seemed cruel. Hardcore platformer and diehards of the genre will have no problems here, but those coming for the more casual story-telling experience may be caught off-guard by the involved series of acrobatic jumps and dashes.

Fumiko! has an outstanding ear for music, with a soundtrack that's ambient-ly cybernetic in it's electronic tones while soft and symphonic with its piano and electronic orchestrations. Combined with the abstract and sprawling "Technopolis" kind of setting, the wonderfully thought out cinematography and sound creates a world of its own. Panning city shots and slow, character introducing zoom-ins from above the world are emphasized through this imaginative soundtrack for a surprisingly cinematic effect for something of such an "indie" nature.

The voice from above is not the kind creator Fumiko believed it to be, but a manipulator of power and control to be escaped. It's up to you to help her break from her captor's control and see the network for the diverse series of communities that it is. With a truly hypnotizing and trippy low-poly visual style, a mysteriously intriguing story of system corruption from the point-of-view of the programs within, and an entrancingly cosmic soundtrack Fumiko! is an addictive and abstract adventure for anyone who has a taste for a little bit of weird variety in their gaming routines.

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