Platforms: PS4, PC
Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Furi is an action, ‘bullet hell’ game with a focus on boss battles and only boss battles, when it comes to actual gameplay and combat. It’s about you, the hero, on a quest to regain your freedom as you slash your way through your enemies. It’s a game that will have you raise questions on what’s really worth fighting for. Questions that I held in my mind on why he’s fighting and who the hero is.
Honestly, Furi hit me like a truck, and not in the literal sense. It blind-sided me as I was exposed to such a high level of simple, yet effective gameplay. The story is mysterious, but compelling enough to keep at it and figure out what’s happening.
There’s an intriguing story to piece together
The game starts off with an intriguing opening roll to present the setting with you, the hero, tied up with the first boss preaching in a deep voice, that he wants to make you suffer over and over….and over. By this point, the game has already hooked me just for the reason to whoop this guy’s ass. The role in which the hero plays, is to escape and destroy anyone who opposes you and the ones who placed you in chains. The story for the first 3/4 bosses doesn’t seem to go anywhere, but once you understand what’s going on and start to piece things together, it definitely picks up.
In between fights, you walk to where you need to go. It’s a linear game with multiple endings and cut scenes before and after battles. The same is the case with the narrative, which is provided by an unknown dude in a creepy rabbit mask, that looks like something you can get from a pound shop. Expanding on multiple endings, in my first play through, I unintentionally found an easter egg. But I won’t allow such a spoiler to plague this review! What I can say is that it’s one of the multiple endings in the game. And it will reset your save, so tread carefully because it’s intended if you go make the same decision as I did. I even emailed the developer to make sure it wasn’t a bug.
So…how does it play?
The combat in Furi is incredibly satisfying. It consists of multiple phases that you transition into each time you deplete a full bar of boss HP. These phases also become progressively more difficult with new and deadlier mechanics added. If one full health bar (split into three bars or ‘phases’) is depleted from you, you’ll restart the phase the boss is currently in and their health will be fully restored. The lowest level of difficulty however, is intended as a ‘story experience’ and offers almost zero difficulty, making it incredibly easy. On top of that, you’ll not earn achievements nor ‘Furier‘ mode, which is the locked difficulty setting.
The game includes the all familiar, quick time events, but there’s not really much of them since there’s only one sequence in each boss and usually, you can avoid it. In the event that you do get it, it’s very simple to execute. I’m glad that there aren’t more quick time sequences because there’s enough of them in plenty of other games.
Furi involves a lot of timing, precision and patience. These are all essentially what the game is all about and if you struggle with one of them, you’ll have a more difficult time overcoming bosses. The game has a very simple set of controls; shoot, slash, parry and dodge, and they can all be charged, which is done by just holding down the button corresponding to the action you want to do. The only charged variant I don’t find useful or has much use is the charged dodge, since a normal dodge is usually sufficient. Furi’s depth comes from the player’s skill learning how utilize their powers and environments against the varied bosses. It’s just you and the boss, with your skill deciding the outcome.
If you’ve played any Dark Souls game, you’ll find a bit of similarity in Furi in the sense that there’s not really any hand holding, and I love that when it comes to a game that’s meant to be a challenge. If you’re constantly dying to the same mechanic, you aren’t learning and so you’ll be stuck until you change your tactic. Maybe don’t charge slash as much or don’t slash at all during certain phases to avoid being hit. Often, it’s evasion first and hitting the boss second. Finally besting a boss that you’ve struggled on gives you a similar level of satisfaction when killing bosses, or even mob packs in Dark Souls.
As Furi is a ‘bullet hell’ game, you’ll find a lot of what’s shown in the image below in the game and it’s probably in your best interest to avoid them. You can shoot the green energy to drop slight health restores (shaped with a circle and triangle in the middle). Everything else however, can hurt you quite a bit. Shooting most of these harmful orbs will cause them to disappear, which is a good idea if you’re running out of space or if there’s a few you just can’t avoid in time. Some of these phases are quite simple and don’t require much thought to avoid them, however it becomes a lot more troublesome as fights progress.
As mentioned earlier, parrying is a part of the game, it’s a big deal and you should be doing it as often as possible, especially when you’re not at full health. Parrying melee attacks will grant you some health and totally negate any damage that would have caused you any. This can only happen if you time it correctly. Too early or too late and you’ll be at the mercy of heavy blow. The good thing about the parry mechanic in Furi is that it’s not overly complex and it offers a small reward for pulling it off. In a game where the only other methods in which you can regenerate health are when pick up dissipated green orbs and advancing to the next phase/depleting a full of boss health, I’d say it’s a good reward.
It’s not all boss battles…although mostly it is!
In between the heated duels and game play full of boss battles, which I adore by the way, there is a huge change of pace and although it can give you a break, it isn’t so good because it eventually feels like a bore. You can only move at walking pace and there’s only one route to go, even though you know where you’re headed, you’re going there at slow pace. Of course, you can also auto-walk so you can literally AFK while playing the game. Although it feels like the ‘calm before the storm’ and it’s a way to keep the story moving, as the stranger talking at you follows your every step, some of these parts seem like ‘fillers’.
The camera angles give off a very similar style to the older games in the Resident Evil franchise, but there are a few awkward camera angles while you’re walking that could have done with some tweaking. A couple of angles make it a little difficult or annoying when to locate where you are, especially when the camera is zoomed far out. But once you find yourself, it’s not too bad.
Furi has a truly unique style, surprisingly likeable music that fits and describes each boss encounter, fast paced and non-stop action during combat and stunning voice acting and dialogue, which is immersive enough to tell that the voice actors brought their A game. The mysterious bunny masked guy sounds like a maniac, the first boss has to sound like someone who enjoys torturing you, and it certainly sounds like he does.
The art style is also a big thing in this game. The developers have said they wanted to stay truthful to Takashi Okazaki’s Afro Samurai style and it’s quite evident if you compare the artwork, especially with the ‘floaty’ and almost dreamlike, waving hair, even though it’s half doing what it’s supposed to (physics plugin issues).
Furi is a rare game that has been created with a heart full of passion. Not experiencing a game like this, my time with Furi has been an incredible one that I’ll remember for a while. I didn’t expect to like it, but I do and I love it and I think you will to if you’re into this kind of game. Although the walking parts between battles can be a bore after a while, it’s the original combat, music (that you can even buy a vinyl for) and incredible art style that makes the game truly stand out and I wholeheartedly recommend this game at £18.99 on Steam and for PS4, is completely FREE for PS Plus subscribers this month only. If you’re not one, then you’ll have to set aside £19.99, but it’s still worth it.