By William Shelton
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Systems: PS4 (Reviewed), PC
Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Obtained By: Free with PS+
Well this came out of nowhere. Even though I saw reviews for Furi popping up a few weeks a go I didn’t pay them much attention as it was yet another game I wouldn’t be able to play as I’m broke again. Then I heard this was one of this months free games for PS+ subscribers and I instantly jumped at the chance to download it. I’m not sure why the game was free at launch, but I’m glad it was as I wouldn’t have been able to play it otherwise and I really enjoyed my time with Furi.
Furi is light on story: you play as an unnamed prisoner trying to escape the multilayer prison you are held in by killing the jailers who stand between you and freedom. This sets up the string of boss fights that make up the bulk of Furi’s gameplay, but even then the game still manages to pull some neat narrative tricks. In the pre and post boss fight exposition dumps you are never told why your character is imprisoned, but once you’re out there is a beautiful and wordless scene that explains it perfectly and casts the entire game into a new light. It’s hard to really praise Furi’s narrative as there is so little to it, but what’s here worked well.
It would be easy to say that Furi is also light on gameplay, but that’s only because explaining the game doesn’t do justices to the act of playing it. In Furi you go from one challenging boss fight to another with only a brief expository interlude between each. Each boss has several Stages you need to go through in order to beat them, and each stage changes the bosses attack patterns. This stages are made up of two phases each (think along the lines of one bar of Sheilds and one bar Of Health) with each phase using a different style of combat to get through each. Each fight starts more like a twin stick/bullethell shooter where you move around the combat arena dodging projectiles and shooting back. Once you manage you bring down the first health bar on most bosses you enter a close quarters section where you focus more on slashing and parrying. None of your moves are really exclusive to these sections, but it is pretty clear what the priorities are for each.
Furi’s greatest strength is its simplicity. While each boss changes attack patterns with each stage of the battle, players only have a limited number of abilities at there disposal, meaning you swiftly learn how to deal with each new obstetrical. There are no light and heavy attacks and no real combos to memories, just “shoot, slash, dash and parry” and everything the bosses do can be countered by one of those moves. This lets players know they have the tools to overcome each boss, so no matter how challenging the fight gets (and make no mistake, these fights get hard) paying attention and hitting the right button at the right time will always lead to victory.
That’s not to say it’s a perfect system by any means. The fact that each attack only has one right way to counter it means fight can become slightly stale if you repeat them often enough and bosses could use some better audio/visual feedback to let players know when they are done with a combo. Some boss combos have delayed attacks to them they don’t always use, so I often lost a chance to get in a hit or two each fight because I wasn’t sure if the boss was done attacking or not. Another issue is that for how fast the combat is a few animations take forever. Getting back up after you’ve been knocked down should have the same swiftness as a dash in my opinion, but instead it feels like the character is intentionally taking as long as possible to get back on their feet. The worst example of this are those “expository interlude” I mentioned earlier. Here you walk from one battle to the next using a form of tank controls while moving at a snails pace that kills the games momentum.
But the worst part of the game is just how long a lot of these fights can last due to the games admittedly interesting Health System. Like your opponents you have multiple health bars which gives you a few chances to beat each boss. When you do beat a stage of each boss fight the current bar your on refills and the previous bar comes back as well. So if you died once and the boss took off half your health before you beat their first stage you get all three attempts back. However, bosses have a limited version of this power as well. While you don’t have to redo a previous stage of the fight, the boss does get both health bars for the current stage back forcing you do redo both phases of that stage again. Because of this fights had a tendency to drag on. It wasn’t uncommon to spend 20 minuets or more on a fight because I’d die before getting the last hit on one stage.
The one area the game never disappoints is the sound. For a game with so little story worth paying attention too it has needlessly good voice acting and the electronic soundtrack fits well with the games tone and aesthetic. As good as all this is tho I never found it entirely necessary to the experience and mostly found myself playing the game with the volume down as a podcast played in the back ground.
I enjoyed Furi, but for what’s here I can’t imagine paying the $25 asked for it. $15 seems like it would have been a better price and it was a steal for free. I very much recommend giving the game a go, but I also recommend waiting for a sale before picking it up. While there is a new game plus mode that rises the difficulty and changes the attack patterns, there’s not a lot to go back to. I spent about five hours making my way through my first play through and enjoyed it, but there just isn’t a lot I want to experience again.