funko fusion

Funko Fusion Preview – More Than A Mash-Up

IP, freely.

Even without knowing its origins, one look at 10:10 Games’ debut project in action will tell you that it’s made up of a number of veterans of TT Games and the world of LEGO video games. Funko Fusion seems, at its core, to be an extension of a lot of what made those titles tick, although as we’ve learned after having seen an extended gameplay demo at the hands of Design Director and co-founder, Arthur Parsons (himself an ex-TT staffer of 22 years), it’s more than that. 

Funko Fusion looks to be benefiting greatly from a fresh team with a fresh outlook, as well as an insatiable fandom for, well, fandom.

funko fusion

Although the game’s initial reveals have given us a taste of the in-the-moment action on offer in Funko Fusion, this demo was our first look at the wider scope of the game and how its many-IP approach is all structured. I’ll be honest, going in I was definitely expecting more of a multi-movie LEGO game situation where each world is a self-contained game to be picked from a menu, but the reality is a lot more exciting. Instead, you get the Wonder Works Toy Factory, a sort of “hub” environment which is a multi-level facility where Funko Pops are made (as far as this game is concerned) and so houses all of the different franchises you’ll experience.

It’s here, inside something called the Wonder Well, where each major portal (represented by a big-box Pop! Diorama) to an IP is given its own floor and you’ll already see its environments and familiar elements meshing with the main world. It’s in the game’s name, I guess. Even before you’ve traveled to one of the levels proper, this hub area says a lot about Fusion’s core fun, packed full of references, interactive elements, Funko characters and more. We didn’t get to see too much of it before Parsons took us into the Jurassic World level, but I’m curious to poke around myself and see what secrets lie within.

funko fusion

Once we’d headed over to Jurassic World, the Design Director confirmed that every world will gently tie into the overall Funko Fusion story but will also have its own self-contained narrative loosely based on its inspirations, before quickly admitting that we weren’t going to see too much plot or mission content in this preview. Instead the idea here was just to give us a broad look at how the game operates and how the studio is delivering on the stable of IP that it’s collected under one roof. Here, for example, we see Parsons play as protagonist Owen Grady (each core world comes with four new potential playable characters), running around the park from the modern films and exploring its various facilities, shops, exhibits and back lots.

As we see Grady traipsing around the plastic dino-infested park grounds, we get a good look at some of the basic gameplay systems on offer in Funko Fusion. Each character has a unique move set to use that includes melee and ranged weapons, power moves and so on, and gameplay seems to mostly centre around combat situations and puzzles, and again without wanting to make the comparison with LEGO too much – it’s kinda like the LEGO games. Parsons tells us that mission design in the game is mostly simple stuff to ensure that anyone can get in and understand it, and there’s a ton of scope for just running around and exploring these lovingly-crafted worlds.

funko fusion

There’s going to be a lot of freedom in how you progress through Funko Fusion’s main narrative beats in general, so you can focus as much as you want on the worlds and characters you care about first. But one thing that Parsons wanted to stress during our preview was that – despite having levels and quests dedicated to specific franchises – the team wanted to ensure that players never really know what’s around the corner and any character or idea from any other IP could show up at any time. For example a “Cameo” level, based on Jaws, that that we briefly saw in action featured gags and references from numerous other properties strewn about. It seems these smaller levels, away from the core worlds, will be a little more liberal with the canon of things and exist mainly to evoke excitement from fans.

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One of the game’s main collectibles is, unsurprisingly, vinyl, which is dispersed from fallen enemies and destroyed objects much like the studs in the LEGO games or bolts in Ratchet & Clank. This can be used to craft buffs as well as secret weapons and more importantly different tools that are gradually unlocked across the various worlds and allow players to return to previously-inaccessible areas to find even more goodies. Some examples we saw were bounce pads, turrets, gas canisters, batteries, portals and more, and during this same Jaws level a number of these were needed in succession to reach an objective – presumably creating incentive to unlock all of the mechanics and then go back through the game to get that sweet 100% completion.

funko fusion

Probably one of the cooler slices of gameplay we saw was set in the Masters of the Universe world, where Parsons took on the role of He-Man on a quest to scale Snake Mountain and rescue the Sorceress from Skeletor. Here, the game takes on a markedly different visual style with a cel-shaded, cartoony aesthetic that’s much more appropriate for the source material and looks quite dashing. This section also gave us a look at how using different tools or moulding certain weapons can create different paths through a level and allow different characters to work through the same problems with their unique abilities, promising a good degree of flexibility within the game.

It was here I also noticed the way that the Pop! characters get smudged and scuffed as they traverse and take damage, which is a nice touch. The love for Funko’s little vinyl guys is as clear as it is for the Hollywood blockbusters and Saturday morning cartoon characters they’re based on, and Parsons even revealed that the synergy between 10:10 and Funko has become so strong that the studio’s designers can proudly say they’re responsible for birthing future new, retail-bound Pop! designs.

I’ll be honest, just the number of times I’ve used terms like “IP” or “property” in trying to describe Funko Fusion here has already worn me down, so it’s hard not to be cynical of something so unashamedly focused on milking these beloved characters and worlds for all their worth. After watching through a good 30 minutes or so of the moment-to-moment gameplay and general structure of the adventure it promises though, I’m pretty confident in it having something to offer not just fans of Funko or the various licenses that exist within the game but also anyone just generally out for a fun, chill action adventure game that can be played solo or with mates in online co-op.

Funko Fusion launches on September 13th for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch and PC.