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Marfusha Review

They say there are two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. The developer of Marfusha must have taken that to heart.

A simple yet addictive shooting game, Marfusha places you as the last line of defense, guarding a border gate in a dystopian world. And while it may not boast the most complex gameplay mechanics, its unique combination of economic strategy and fast-paced action make it a thrilling experience that’s hard to put down.

As the game’s protagonist, the titular Marfusha, you’re tasked with protecting the border gate from incoming enemies that appear from the right side of the screen. Your objective is to gun them down before they breach the gate, by all means necessary. In that endeavour, you’ll find that you can move left and right, and employ a wide range of gadgets and weaponry. It’s simple, but to succeed you’ll need to carefully consider your actions.

What makes Marfusha stand out is its emphasis on taxes, which just like in real life you need to pay on your earnings. As you progress through the early stages of the game’s Main Mode, taxes increase, putting you under financial pressure. Even worse, your earnings are essential for purchasing weapons, upgrades, and items – resources that, realistically, should be provided to you as a border defender. It makes you wonder: just what are you fighting for?

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Unfortunately, as you advance through the game, the tax system becomes less of a focal point. You’ll continue to be taxed, but without any significant increases or new elements, your income eventually stabilises, making it easier to manage your finances. This lessens the impact of the tax system on the overall gameplay, which is a missed opportunity to maintain the unique challenge it initially presents.

Still, the end of each day in Marfusha offers an opportunity to spend your hard-earned money on one of three randomly generated cards. Depending on what’s offered to you, you might be able to acquire a new weapon, a useful item, a stat upgrade, and even an ally. These choices are vital to your success in defending the border gate and combating the various enemies you encounter. Also, as you progress through Main Mode and unfold the game’s story, you’ll move to new environments, offering some fresh scenery.

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Alongside Main Mode, Marfusha offers a tougher Challenge Mode. Here, you can select from a variety of unlockable characters, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. Most need to be unlocked first, though. This mode truly tests your survival skills, as you face waves of enemies with no retries. Once you’re done, it’s back to the start you go. It makes for a tense experience, and the inclusion of leaderboards adds a competitive edge. Perform well in challenge mode and you’ll even find that there are additional cards to unlock, adding more options to subsequent runs.

Marfusha isn’t the most visually interesting game, and for some it might quickly become overly repetitive. There’s something about its simple gameplay that makes it strangely captivating though, tempting you to return to protect its border gates time and time again. With such a wide range of cards available, and multiple characters in Challenge Mode, no two runs are quite exactly the same, either. If you’re fan of shooters that you can dip in and out of, it’s well worth adding to your library.

Marfusha Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Marfusha is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

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