Laughing and joking it is already 25 years that the boys of CyberConnect2 are present on the market, and in these two and a half decades they have certainly not spared themselves, linking their name to a series of successful brands, capable of digging a deep groove in the hearts of the players. Whether you are talking about .hack // you hate Little Tail Bronx, to stay within the original IP range, or to push within the boundaries of Naruto or Dragon Ball, it is really difficult (if not impossible) that a lover of Japanese productions has not crossed the pad at least once with one of the productions of the prolific team. And despite the undersigned anxiously awaiting them to dedicate themselves again to JoJo, even just to wipe out the memory of that rubbish of Eyes of Heaven, it would really be a shame to ignore Escape: Melodies of Steel, the latest effort by the Fukuoka studio which, without much fanfare, quietly arrived on the market, ending up representing a real surprise.
- Title: Escape: Melodies of Steel
- Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Version analyzed: PlayStation 4 (EU)
- Type: Tactical RPG
- Players: 1
- Publisher: CyberConnect2
- Developer: CyberConnect2
- Tongue: Italian (lyrics), Japanese (dubbing)
- Exit date: July 28, 2021
- Availability: digital delivery
- DLC: nobody
- Note: the title is also available in a Digital Deluxe edition that includes an artbook and soundtrack
We reviewed Fuga: Melodies of Steel with a PlayStation 4 code given to us free of charge by CyberConnect2.
Giant of steel
No useless preamble, nor a redundant kinematics to open the dance, given that Escape: Melodies of Steel consciously chooses to launch immediately into the action, postponing the discovery of the game world to the various chapters that make up this small (in the most personal sense of the term) adventure. Once we say goodbye to the meager home screen, in fact, we will immediately find ourselves in front of the Taranis, the giant tank that will punctuate almost every moment of the action. Before delving into the playful mechanics, taking a step back from the mood of the production, it is good, however, to outline the situation for a moment, without delving into dangerous spoilers. Escape: Melodies of Steel is set in the region of Gasco, a land where peace has always reigned, at least until the invasion by the ruthless Bermanic troops: they will be the ones to put the small village of Petit Mona, a place where the children protagonists of the adventure reside, who in order to escape capture by the canine army will end up finding the aforementioned armored vehicle, guided by a mysterious voice.
Thus begins a journey that will lead the group to come to terms with the brutality of war, in an attempt to save their families, taken prisoner by the invasion troops. A story that, although at times naive and concise in its representation, puts on the plate a series of characters and themes that are anything but trivial, capable of tracing a much more cruel and ruthless scene than the artistic direction suggests. Furthermore, the essentiality of the exhibition finds its justification precisely in the cast of characters that we will find ourselves controlling, which will lead us to see and experience the various situations through the filtering gaze of a group of children, who for the first time they will find themselves forced to come to terms with a hitherto unknown reality, which we will gradually learn to know as they do. A basic simplicity, that of the script and the staging, which must therefore not be seen as a defect, but as a strong element of contact with our little heroes.
The art of adapting
This is a modus operandi that finds its own ideal continuation within the playful mechanics of Escape: Melodies of Steel, which he puts on the plate a tactical role-playing experience as essential in its nature as it is solid and fun. Each of the various game chapters will come to life within a path, divided into stages, which can represent clashes, narrative, exploratory moments, or simple objects to collect. Everything fell into one horizontal sliding structure, with automatic advancement, with the player who will be called to make only a few choices in terms of paths, which will result in simpler or more complex portions, in which the nature of the clashes and rewards will differ. A trip from point A to point B, without the need to get lost in useless and frustrating moments of grinding, capable of artificially watering down longevity (which still stands at thirty hours).
The situation becomes decidedly more active on the occasion of the various fights, in which we will take direct control of the three weapons housed aboard our lethal Taranis: these are made up of a machine gun (fast but not very powerful), a Cannon (slow but devastating) and a grenade launcher (a kind of middle ground). It will be up to us to choose from time to time which to use, so as to adapt our party, consisting of three pairs of children that we can vary almost at any time, to the weaknesses of the enemy: choosing the best combination, in fact, will allow us to slow down the opposing action, so as to allow us to expand the frequency of our attacks. It is a simple trick that always makes the numerous skirmishes to be faced various and tactics, since we will almost always be forced to modify our formation in the race to adapt it to the characteristics of the enemy vehicles.
To complete the picture we find a fair number of special abilities, unlockable by leveling up, as well as a series of combined attacks and temporary power ups, obtainable by filling a special indicator. There is also a final and lethal (in every sense) weapon on board the Taranis: the Cannon of Souls. It is a peculiar device that we will learn about from the very first bars of the game, and which represents the last lifeline. capable as it is of overturning even the most desperate situation. A means, however, that we will certainly not be able to use lightly, since in order to function it needs, as the name itself suggests, the vital essence of a person: activating it, in fact, will require us to sacrifice without appeal the life of one of our teammate. A difficult choice that I really hope you never have to make. Ultimately, the one developed by CyberConnect2 it is a combat system that is certainly not revolutionary, but which has its greatest strengths in its underlying solidity and simplicity: everything works perfectly, as well as having a lot of fun, which is certainly not an element to be underestimated.
The strength of friendship
The adventure, however, will not be characterized by only fights, since from time to time we will run into some small interludes, which will serve both to expand and enhance the performance of the Taranis and to cement the friendship between the various members of the group. . In these situations, in fact, we will have the opportunity to make children interact with each other, by means of small dialogues, which will be essential to unlock the various group attacks. There will also be collateral activities such as the collection of scrap (indispensable for increasing tank stats), the management of a small farm, the kitchen (useful for guaranteeing passive bonuses), the exploration of some ruins and so on. Obviously we will not be able to abuse these diversions, since each activity will have a cost in points which, once exhausted, will force us to return to the displacement map: it will therefore be up to us to choose from time to time what we deem most useful to carry out, in this portion playful that is reminiscent of the Social Link System seen in the various Persona.
And now is the time to go and touch what is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most peculiar aspect of Escape: Melodies of Steel, or the general artistic direction, which resulted full of suggestions and references to the most disparate works, and capable of giving life to a picture that is certainly apt and intriguing. Characterized by the presence of anthropomorphic animal races, the visual impact with the game world can only immediately recall The Smell of Sherlock Holmes, the animated series of the first half of the 80s that sealed the partnership between Hayao Miyazaki and our Pagot studio: it is impossible, in fact, not to find a marked resemblance between the creatures that populate Gasco and the protagonists of the animated reinterpretation of the character of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The influence of the Studio Ghiblimoreover, it is also strong in the characterization of Taranis himself, which seems almost a much more lethal version of the Howl’s Moving Castle. To corroborate everything we find a general cohesion that chooses to also rely on suggestions typical of the transalpine dessinéè bands, which find their most direct homage within the adventures of Sucre, the comic that can be found in the small villages that we will visit on our journey. It is also nice to note the presence of an excellent localization in Italian of all the texts, which successfully accompanies the original voice over: a real plus if we consider the certainly not triple A nature of the entire production.
To whom do we recommend Fuga: Melodies of Steel?
CyberConnect2 has managed to be loved by many players over the course of its 25-year history, and I’m sure thanks to Escape: Melodies of Steel the affection towards the Japanese team will only increase. If you love tactical RPGs, there are very few reasons to stay away from Taranis and his crew: simple in its structure, but anything but banal and taken for granted in its implementation, the title will be able to give a substantial number of hours, of very good quality, to all those who decide to go to the rescue of the inhabitants of Gasco. Free of unnecessary redundancies and tedious grinding, the adventure will dynamically satisfy the character of each player, who will be able to adjust the general progression almost without problems, adapting it to every challenge rate. A title that has gone a bit quietly, but which I am sure will not fail to positively surprise.
- Solid gameplay
- Stylistically interesting
- Textual localization in Italian
- For once, nothing to report
Escape: Melodies of Steel
A small, great adventure
And so, without much clamor or gaudy noises, CyberConnect2 presents itself to the appointment of its 25th anniversary with what, to date, I consider the most beautiful surprise of this 2021 greedy for emotions. Escape: Melodies of Steel, in fact, it is a fun and solid title, which behind an apparent simplicity (both playful and narrative) hides all the construction expertise of a team that is all too often underestimated, and which, as its history teaches us, is able to amaze even if not linked to other popular brands. An exciting and stratified tactical RPG, which thanks to a few elements is able to give life to a respectable experience, capable of entertaining without reservations, but also of making you think a little, albeit without exaggerating. That never hurts.