Furi is a game that will test your endurance and sheer will as a gamer. Developed by The Game Bakers, the world of Furi is a place where hope and despair are intertwined. It is a picture of what it looks like when a man is not only willing to face insurmountable odds for his freedom, but a reflection of hope in freedom itself. There are many great things that have been pulled off in this indie title, with minor missteps along the way. Let’s look at the whole picture so that you can determine if this title is for you or not.
For the purpose of this review we will be putting the PlayStation 4 version under our special brand of judgement.
You are the Stranger who has been locked away in an intergalactic jail for an unknown crime that seems to have caused dire consequences to occur within the universe itself. Your companion is a mysterious figure adorned with a rabbit mask over his head. This mystery man acts as the story telling mechanic in the game. This figure gives your character insight on what has occurred while he has been imprisoned, along with details of each boss he will face. The bosses serve as guardians whose sole purpose is to prevent you from breaking out of jail.
The story is told in such a way that it does not give you the answers you are looking for point blank; you have to interpret and search them out. On top of that, the game does not necessarily portray you as the good guy as the guardians give hints that may indicate otherwise. This made me wonder, what really happened here and what role did the Stranger play in it? I love the way the story is told as I feel it fits in a world that reminds me of Afro Samaria meets a Quentin Tarantino film, meets futuristic Japanese anime. Overall I find the story matches the theme and gameplay which is, create your own destiny and live with the consequences.
“There is no fate. We build our own destiny.”
Welcome to Furi, a game designed to be one long boss battle. What you can expect is a challenging duel to take place between you and a number of guardians that are hell bent on keeping you from escaping. The combat is fast paced, intuitive, extremely hectic, and challenging. In between each battle there are tranquil moments where your fury headed companion will enlighten you on what is going on and give you insight on your next opponent. The Stranger carries an electric sword and pistol that can be used interchangeably. The gameplay is displayed from a bird’s eye view for the most part, with a mix of close quarters third person action that occur during key points of every boss battle. The controls are simple, with ability to slash, dash, shoot, charge attack, and parry. However, pulling off these actions properly during combat situations is another story entirely, as the gameplay is fast and fierce and requires you to have the reflexes to match the fury.
The simplistic approach to the combat works very well in Furi. How deep the gameplay goes is determined by your skill set and how well you develop it. Do not come into this game expecting to button mash your way through. Trust me, it is not that type of party and if you try, you will die. The mechanics are designed in a way that it leaves you alone to develop your skills and to figure out how to overcome insurmountable odds without any handicaps. This is a refreshing approach to combat and provides a rewarding experience for gamers who are truly looking for a challenge. It is all about learning from your mistakes, and doing whatever it takes to turn your inferiority into superiority.
The design of each boss battle is almost scientific and systematic with a touch of Japanese mysticism. Each battle has you starting with 10 bars of health and 3 life bars shown underneath your health. The boss will start with a full health bar with often times having more life bars than you, go figure. The premise is that you must complete a number of phases within the battle and every time you topple the boss it loses a life bar and vice versa. This back and forth goes on until you or the boss have lost all life bars. There is no mercy here, if you lose all your life bars, you start from the beginning of the battle. This may seem a bit harsh, but it fits the hardcore nature of the game very well and it causes you to take every action you make with a great deal of caution. The experience of each battle will teach you and prepare you for the next, as if you are being trained for greater. This is a very interesting approach and it is most welcome.
Every single boss battle is unique and I love how the atmosphere of each guardian’s surroundings match their personalities perfectly. The only issue I have is that at the end of just about every battle the boss goes into a fury like mode and unleashes a barrage of bullets that fill the screen. The challenge is not the problem; the problem is that this is the default way to end most of the battles which I felt was a bit underwhelming in a lot of cases.
There are no true in game rewards when defeating a boss which may be a problem for some gamers. Sure, if you’re anything like me, the exhilaration of toppling a boss will draw up some chest pumping excitement, which may be all that you need. The developers have also set Furi’s design up in such a way that part of the reward is discovering your past and the future that lies ahead. I will admit, they do a great job of peeking your interest. So on one hand, Furi does a great job of peeking and keeping your curiosity of what’s to come. On the other hand, I feel that tangible rewards in video games is what keeps many gamers going more so than just curiosity therefore, some may be turned off by the lack thereof. It is a double edged sword.
The color scheme used in Furi is a mix of bright with dark patterns and is a violent representation of the gameplay itself. The Stranger himself is adorned in armor that reminds me of Tron, with bright blue that is patterned in such a way that it looks like he was struck with lighting itself and it now flows through him. The character design is by Afro Samaria artist, Takashi Okazaki and he does an excellent job of portraying the heart of these characters. Take the guardians for example and their environments. Not only do the environments fit the personality of each guardian similar to how it is done in a Mega Man game, but the design of each guardian is a direct reflection of the pain, anger, and anguish that is going on internally.
The beautiful lighting effects are also on full display during combat situations where sparks fly with every clash and lasers and bullets can brighten even the most darkest of hours. As perfect as this all sounds, there were some scenarios where I did experience screen tearing, in particularly during cut scenes. It is an unfortunate occurrence in an otherwise perfect graphical display.
Pulsating electronic beats that are reminiscent to techno music fills your ear during boss battles. This kept me motivated in the most dire of situations. Somber melodies whispered in my ears in between battles while I glanced at the beautiful terrain, and the story was being revealed to me by my masked companion. Weapon sound effects reminded me of musical notes. For example, when the Stranger slashes his sword it reminded me of an electronic keyboard. When an enemy shot a laser beam at me it sounded like a strum from an electronic guitar. The voice acting is not the greatest, but it is done well enough to pull you into the game’s story and make you believe each character’s plight. Overall, the sound has been masterfully pulled off and it fits the tone of the game and the combat very well while giving you the much needed motivation to proceed in a lot of cases.
Is Furi the game for you? Let’s break it down. The combat is fast, furious, and extremely intuitive. The story is wrapped in mystery, but gives you enough tid bits to keep you curious and engaged. The sound is masterfully done and will be the much needed additive that will keep you motivated throughout the entire game. As far as game length goes, it all depends on your skill and how well you adapt to the challenges. It could take you 8 to 10 hours or up to 15 hours to complete which is a substantial amount of gameplay, in my humble, yet often correct opinion.
The only real gripes I have is the fact that there are instances where screen tearing does occur that interfere with the fluidity of the beautiful graphics. Also, even though I get that the developers ultimately want the feeling of overcoming bosses using nothing but your skills to be your ultimate reward, I do feel that a few more tangible in game rewards would have been a nice touch. At the end of the day, Furi is a surprise hit that I am sure that gamers looking for a challenging, rewarding experience will enjoy. For the price of $24.99 (U.S.) and the fact that it is free for PS Plus members on PS4 during the month of July, I say this is a must buy/try.
Review code provided by: The Game Bakers
Reviewer finished and/or played the game to such an extent to give an informed opinion of the game and its content.