FUSE - Review

Simon Todd - 22nd December 2016

Compose that brain of yours, set your timer for 10 minutes and get ready to fling some dice in this fast-paced bomb defusal panicfest.

In FUSE you take on the role of a bomb defusal expert, aboard a space ship full of, well, bombs. Lots of bombs. Lots of bombs that are set to detonate in exactly 10 minutes time. You're having a very bad day.

Fortunately for you though you've got your trusty tool bag with you, rammed to the gunwales with 25 bomb defusal dice. Red ones, blue ones, yellow ones, green ones and black ones. That covers just about any bomb worth defusing in your book.

You win and get to have an extended tea break if you manage to clear all the bombs from the center of the table and the bomb deck. Curiously the 4 that remain infront of you at that point don't *have* to be defused to win, but in the interests of self preservation I'd try and clear those ones too if I were you.

Tick, tick, tick, tick...

At any one time you'll have 4 bombs infront of you that you can work on defusing simultaneously, because clearly you're that good. Each turn, you'll reach into your bag and pull out 3 dice at random and give them a roll. You'll then use exactly 1 of these 3 dice to place on any valid spot on the bomb cards infront of you. Any unused dice go back in the bag.

As soon as a card has all of its conditions satisfied by the dice sitting on it then that bomb is defused and you'll grab a new one from the center board of 5 cards, before in-turn replenishing that with a previously unseen bomb from the deck. Some are as straightforward as requiring *any* dice in *any* order, but the more nefarious ones have you building ordered dice towers or dice pyramids to succeed.

If you're unable to legally place any of the dice you rolled then you've just potentially made things a hell of a lot worse, you fumbling nincompoop. You now take each of the 3 dice and re-roll them one by one. For each dice, remove one dice from one of your bomb cards that matches either the colour or number shown on the re-rolled dice, and put it back in the bag.

Of course, the bomb deck is full of nasty little fuse traps too that when drawn cause you to lose an instance of a particular colour or number of dice. A subset of these are randomly shuffled in at the start of the game, so you'll have no idea what's around the corner.

Renegade Games have also released a companion 10-minute timer app that optionally goads you throughout the whole process. Not that you have time to listen to the jibes, but it's a nicer touch than using your standard watch/phone countdown timer.

BOOM

The net result of this is a game that turns you into a flinching, dice-dropping, card-throwing, gibbering wreck for 10 minutes, as you continually struggle to fit your giant ham-fist into the dainty felt bag to grab your dice. More than once you'll fumble, grab and roll too many dice, and incur a total re-roll as the clock ticks away regardless. Worse (and you'll only do this once trust me), the dice you roll will bound around the table perilously close to that dice tower you've been painstakingly building to defuse the fiendish 4-point bomb. Well, sucks to be you if it knocks it over because that's grounds for a COMPLETE RESET on that bomb. Tick, tock, tick, tock...

All mechanics add to a beautiful feeling of time-boxed carnage, capable of generating an adrenaline rush that few other games can. Make no mistake, this game is stressful - I struggle to maintain the prolonged focus it demands for more than 2 consecutive plays - and as such it's not a game I'd pull out at any time. Had a hard day at work? This probably isn't the greatest way to unwind in the evening.

All that being said, I love the experience FUSE gives. Fast, fun, brain-taxing action, hyper-concentrated into exactly 10 (short) minutes, with a few minutes for setup. Add to that a flexible difficulty scale included in the rules for those who want to take on the impossible, and it's a really well-designed package.

Overall, one to pull out now and again to get a fix, but rarely multiple times per session.