Platforms: PC, PS4 (Reviewed)
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Developer: The Game Bakers
Every once in awhile, a game is released that truly surprises. While the first trailer may look enticing, you’re left with a certain amount of uncertainty. It isn’t until you get your hands on the final product that everything clicks into place. Furi is one of those games.
Furi begins with the main hero locked away in a futuristic prison. After your mysterious release, you are thrown into your first fight against the multiple guardians who are trying to keep you locked up. This simple premise is your initial driving force though the subsequent battles. On the surface, each fight plays out in a similar way. There are multiple phases to each boss, and you must shoot, slash, parry, and dodge your way through them. This is where things begin to get interesting.
Throughout the entire game, your character has the same abilities. You can’t level up your abilities, but instead you learn to use them to your advantage. Your gun can shoot enemies from farther away and play it safe, but a well-timed parry and slash will actually fill your health meter. Meanwhile, your dodge grants you moments of invincibility. All of these abilities can be charged. The attacks become stronger, and the dodge covers more ground. As the fights get tougher, the game demands that you craft your skills with these simple controls. Luckily, each fight feels like a puzzle you need to figure out. This isn’t a game where you can button mash your way to freedom. Instead, you must learn to watch your opponent. You have to find their openings if you’re going to win.
For the most part, bosses have two different phases. First is a more zoomed out view that can often show the entire arena. Here is where you have your full arsenal at your disposal. Your goal is to whittle down enough of their health until you enter the more intimate melee showdown. Here is when the bosses are most aggressive. You’re stripped of your gun here, so only well-timed parries and dodges will do. After this second phase is complete, it’s on to the next round until the final blow has been struck.
What keeps this pattern from growing stale is variety between the bosses. Each fight plays out differently from the one before. One might focus on your ability to parry a long series of blows, while another might play out more like a bullet-hell segment from a twin-stick shooter. Even the separate rounds of a boss fight vary in tactics. This keeps the game feeling fresh without ever having to teach you new controls methods.
From here, the difficulty in Furi mainly stems from your ability to catch your enemy’s patterns. We found the game to be on the difficult side, but we never felt cheated when we failed. Instead, we could feel exactly where we made our mistake, so we brought that knowledge into the fight when we started over. The game has a great mechanic that encourages you to keep trying again and again. When you lose a life, your health is completely replenished and the round starts over from the beginning. You don’t have to restart the entire fight, but you also don’t get to advance. If this happens three times, you fail the match and have to try again. If you succeed in a round, your health is restored and your character regains one life. This ensures that are given time to learn a boss’ attack pattern even while losing.
Our only real gripe with these fights is that the boss dialogue can quickly grow repetitive, especially as you lose again and again. It would have been nice to hear a few more variations on their taunts. Additionally, there were occasional audio glitches as the game switched to the more close-quarters phase. It wasn’t always an issue, but when a game has so many audio cues, this minor glitch can be distracting.
Between boss battles, your hands get some much needed rest. Instead of non-stop action, these segments slow everything down as you walk to your next fight. This gives you time for your thumbs to relax, the adrenaline to clear, and to relish on your recent victory. It’s in these segments that Furi will become more divisive. We personally love these segments. The story segments are mysterious and fill your head with questions. The scenery is beautiful, with bright colors and artistic camera angles. This is also the only chance you get to focus more on the music than the combat itself. Everything blends together in such a perfect way. However, it should be noted that there are two ways to move through these segments. The first is a tank style control method similar to the early Resident Evil games. This can be frustrating to those who aren’t used to it. Our preferred method is by simply hitting the “Dodge” button. This causes your character to automatically walk towards the goal so that you can just sit back and enjoy it as a cutscene.
Once you’ve completed the main game, there is still a few things to do in Furi. For one, you can unlock the harder “Furier” mode. This adds new attack patterns that greatly increase the difficulty for even the most seasoned of players. There is also a great incentive to improve your skills in the practice mode. Here, you earn a score based on completion time, total kits, and personal KOs. In traditional fashion, you are ranked either S, A, B, C, or D. What makes this more interesting is that each fight has concept art you can unlock. Until you reach the given rank, a gray rectangle blocks your view of the art below. It’s a subtle, but effective way to keep you playing.
Furi is a game that benefits from its focused design. The art, music, and gameplay come together in a well-crafted package from start to finish. This is a testament to games that focus on what they want to be rather than bloating itself with additional content. If you have been looking for the next game to test your skills with, you’ve found it.