Review – Marfusha

I have no idea in my head why Japan started pairing guns with girls. On the one hand, I understand the weird peanut butter and jelly approach to it all: the number of people out there who enjoy heavy artillery and cute waifus probably has a greater overlap than I can imagine. On the other hand, titles like Girls und Panzer, Strike Witches and even the most recent Mobile Suit Gundam: The Girl from Mercury shows that things can get especially weird when the whole ideology combines. Maybe it’s an explosion and skirts thing? I’m sure top researchers are working on this as we speak.

Marfusha Bion

That’s a whole different thing for different doctors to unpack.

So I wasn’t totally awed by the appearance of Marfusha, a defense shooter from indie dev hinyari9 and published by Playism. The concept is solid: a country in a state of perpetual warfare recruits young girls to fight off robot invaders through the use of weaponry. All guns, except your starting handgun, have durability that wears off, and you can purchase upgrades through your salary of a good day’s work. However, you also have to contend with a constantly expanding series of taxes and repair payments that you seemingly have no control over, which I suppose is a bit of a rub. Oh, and you get to recruit other girls to be your allies and unlock wacky moments of anime slice-of-life together, so I guess there’s that.


This seems like a fair fight.

There’s some fun to be had within Marfusha, and I don’t want that to be buried by the overall tone of this review. The controls are simple and straightforward, leaving you to only consider the how and why of what you’re doing. One button can be held down for constant firing, interrupted only by the reloading moments. You can pick up different alternative items, both offensive and defensive, which sit in wait until you use them.

Some, like the barricades or the land mines, will actually stay between rounds, incentivizing you to use them as soon as you can. Some, like the massive buzzsaw gun attack, are a one-and-done thing, making you wait and see if this will be the round where you need to very literally pull out of the big guns. Most of the time you’ll be fine as long as your joysticks are well calibrated to take care of land and air enemies.

The variety of the game is solid across the board, both for the player and the enemies. You have a whole host of different robots attacking, including several mini boss-style bots and some truly massive, fearful things that you’ll have to dispatch if you’re lucky enough to live that long. Thankfully, the different weapons are appealing in different capacities, though anything with the word “advanced” in the title should be purchased as soon as you can afford it. Players more apt for careful aiming will want the sniper rifle, but, for idiots like me, the light machine gun just means filling the screen with bullets and hoping for the best, which is how I beat the game multiple times. Oh, and making sure to upgrade magazine capacity and bullet speed as quickly as possible.

Marfusha Robot Dog

You will be tempted to buy the robot dog. It will do nothing. I have warned you.

Once you get your player character leveled up sufficiently in stats, you can rest easy for the most part. As much as I want to look at strategy and think there’s a deeper meaning here, Marfusha ascribes success to capitalism, which is a pretty bleak take on a dystopian warscape. You have to bank plenty of money in the first section of the game (the outer wall) and try to make it to the second section without picking up a helper.

After that, dump your money into the assistant of your choice (Alibina and Félicette are my two favorites for support) and hang on till the bitter end. Pass on days where you don’t NEED to buy something to save up, and wait until your weapon is on the last possible day of durability before upgrading. Shoot air things first, ground things second. And take out the enemy barricades as soon as they appear, they will ruin your entire momentum.

Paid Leave Request

Awesome! Now I can…continue my leave in a bombed out country!

One thing that didn’t sit great with me was the missed opportunity of the audio remastering. There is a lot of fanfare from the publisher about how this new console version of Marfusha has a brand new opening song and animation, and that, honestly, is lovely. I thought it was an excellent track, great vocals, really captured the essence of Marfusha and, best of all, used original animation from the creator instead of outsourcing it, and making some Madhouse title crawl that in no way matches the game.

However, that’s it for music: the same very short, very repetitive tracks play during the main gameplay, and you mostly just hear gunfire and explosions anyways. I would have loved for a bit of extra music to just make everything feel more dynamic, but, instead, I got exceptionally bored and quite irritated fast. Recommendation: Meteora just got a 20th anniversary re-release, go blow some things up with that wildly inappropriate soundtrack blaring.

Marfusha Soundtrack


Also, the tonal balance of Marfusha is way off. You have this depressing hellscape where, even in service and potentially giving your life, you’re being taxed to hell and back. You clearly had to leave your little sister at the beginning of this all, and the radio and tv snippets you catch when you’re in your dorm room tell you that the war is going badly. But the exposition between scenes is trying to be comical and silly, like the Inspector having oversized screenshots that she printed herself.

Part of me feels like this is a humanization aspect, to remind you of the fact that these women are all still quite young, and the dossiers even state several are in middle school. So, on that part, I get you might want to encompass a realistic thing, like two girls deciding to copy a dance they saw on TV, or digging one another out of an avalanche of books. 

Marfusha Sisters

Omocha no cha cha cha…c’mon, ignore the war! Let’s dance!

On the other hand, though, this is very much a war game, in a war-torn world, and things are already weird enough without needing to throw in comedy to the mix. Only one ending seems to be good, with the rest all implying some really grim endings to Marfusha and her comrades. So little moments of levity are almost sadder because you don’t really get to enjoy them: they just make you forget about the violence for a moment. I guess the same way the shower scenes are supposed to make you forget all of them are schoolgirls for a moment and you aren’t now a criminal for just wanting to improve your reload speed and shot accuracy.

Meals Give Stat Boosts

A rare meal that actually did a decent stat boost.

But it is addicting, and I think that’s a point in favor for Marfusha. It’s simple, enjoyable, and the repetition cycle is pleasant and doable in under an hour. You can enjoy some explosions, and there are additional elements to unlock with the challenge mode. You actually have a lot of fun when you find cute combinations that trigger cutscenes between the soldiers, and there’s satisfaction from destruction at a grand scale. The pixel art is lovely and detailed without losing some of that chunkiness, and the opening is a banger, even if the remaining score is a snore. I say if you’re determined to having something hit that dopamine switch, there’s a good chance you’ll have enjoyment with Marfusha.


Graphics: 8.5

Excellent pixel sprites and variety in both enemies and support troops. Great graphical fidelity in explosions and how things change. Developer did the right thing by not detailing the nude characters.

Gameplay: 7.0

Very much a Live, Die, Repeat situation, general gameplay is straightforward, with a begrudging nod to strategy in order to enhance your rank and get the good ending. Relaxing in a “defend the castle” sort of way.

Sound: 6.0

Beautiful opening song, and some mediocre music thereafter. The levels are not very long, so the fact that I can tell how much looping occurs is aurally jarring.

Fun Factor: 7.0

All gripes aside, I kept playing, and I kept enjoying my play. Good gun combinations and successful defense is rewarding and satisfying, so we keep the firefight going.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Marfusha is available now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS4, PS5 and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Marfusha was provided by the publisher.