Furi is an ultra intense bullet hell/third-person brawler mix from developer The Game Bakers. It’s a traditional boss rush game with unconventional mechanics and superbly responsive controls that, when working in unison, forms a beautiful bond. The game took a bit of time for me to get into it but once it hit me, it really hit me. While the story seemed relatively barebones and uninteresting, there was definitely an interesting world teeming under the surface of the game.
The story of Furi is rather dull and lackluster with the sole purpose of the narrative being to guide you from one boss fight to the other. Your Player Character is on a mission to escape from the prison that had held him to return back to the planet that lies below. There’s not a lot of real substance there in relation to an overarching narrative. The most interesting story pieces came from the backgrounds of the bosses. In between each fight there is a walking sequence reminiscent of the quieter moments of a Telltale adventure game as your bunny-man friend elaborates on the story behind the boss you will be facing. The greatest issue with those sequences is that they are woefully boring. Your character travels at a snails pace (literally the polar opposite of his combat stance) as the bunny-man shoves superfluous exposition down my throat.
Again, it can be interesting at times but I feel that as a whole the sequences could’ve been presented in a much tighter format. The camera angles at play during these sequences are cool and offer a vast scope to the events at play. At certain times I was convinced that a cutscene was playing over some of the grander sequences, when in fact, it was all being rendered in-game and even offered player movement during these scenes. Early in the game, on the way to the second boss, the camera was positioned so that my character seemed to dwarf in comparison to a gargantuan spherical prison yet, surprisingly, I was still in full control of the actions of the player (no matter how slow he was).While some would argue that the slower sequences in between the boss fights allowed the player to catch their breath in preparation for the next fight. Yet, it’s only purpose seemed to be to break the flow of the game.
Furi is oozing with a style that immediately struck me as eighties cartoon with an Asian twist. The boss designs and the design of the Player Character are visually captivating. Bold outlines over each character coupled with a pseudo cel-shading technique allows the environment’s and the characters themselves to maintain an incredible depth, which elevates the quality of the overall aesthetics. I was really pleased with the soundtrack of the game which opted for a synth/electronica sound that… is, well, amazing to say the least (Here’s a link to the soundtrack). It perfectly reflects the frantic gameplay that the game boasts by being loud, fast, and jarring.
Now we get to the bread and butter of Furi: the combat. While it took some time for me to understand the rhythm of fights and the ebb and flow of the battles, once I had the core mechanics down pact my enjoyment of the game skyrocketed. Furi is fascinating because it requires the player to navigate and become familiar with two entirely different control schemes. Floating between the excellent dual joystick controls and the superb brawling mechanics was initially quite difficult but was overall incredibly rewarding. When you’re able to string together a tight knit combo that includes blaster shots, charged shots, and sword attacks it is one of the most satisfying experiences available in gaming. The fights have interesting dynamics that reward moving onto the next phase of the battle. An example of this is how during fights you’ll have four health bars. When one of your health bars is depleted, the opponent gets a health bar back. Yet, the alternative applies where if you successfully move a boss into the next phase your character is rewarded with extra health that allows you to push the fight forward. It’s a system comparable to a tug of war match, each side is constantly at odds with one another, and any fault can quickly change the momentum of the fight.
Furi left me with quite a few questions beyond the game itself and more into the nature of a boss fight. More specifically, what makes a good boss fight? Furi has a whole array of bosses. Some of which I thought were fantastic and others that were not so great. Furi is actually one of the better examples for excellent bosses since each boss has a progression in each fight that requires the player to make mechanical decisions on the fly. This seems to be the opposite of the Souls series, considered one of the all time greats for boss fights. In the Souls series it seems that the majority of the bosses can be easily defeated by balling up under their legs and quickly striking before scurrying away into a corner for a short period of time.
It’s not all the interesting and is actually boring. While there are obviously a great deal of bosses in the Souls series, my appreciation for them has actually decreased since my time with Furi. My main issue is that the bosses in Souls seem to lack a noticeably different gameplay approach, if there are anyvariations they are usually minimal. Once you figure out the move set of a particular boss in the Souls series, you’ve as good as won. There are some exceptions to this but for the most part the bosses lack any dynamic gameplay shift. After playing Furi I realized that what makes a great boss fight is a dynamic boss. The boss is not just your run of the mill enemy, they are the leader of the operation, capable of manipulating their approach and tactics on the fly depending on the tide of the battle. Furi excels in presenting a dynamic approach to the fight. They each feel weighty and appropriately different in all the right ways. They strain your capabilities in all fields and truly put you to the ultimate test.
Overall, Furi is a super shoot ’em up/brawler that tests the limits of the player with fast-paced, action oriented combat and excellent bosses that react to the course of the fight and your strengths and weaknesses. I played this on the PS4 and it ran silky smooth with no technical glitches or issues whatsoever. Furi is available for free right now on the PlayStation store and for $20 on Steam.
Furi: 5 out of 5