This stylish action game is all about memorizing the attack pattern of challenging bosses and the result is a mesmerizing experience that’s both style and substance, but it’s sadly marred by an unforgiving difficulty.
Independent developer The Game Bakers asks a simple question: what if there was a game that was all about boss fights? There have been games with that premise before (Shadow of the Colossus and Karateka come to mind,) but none of those games are like Furi. This stylish action game is all about memorizing the attack pattern of some challenging bosses and exploring a flamboyant and pastel-colored world and the result is a mesmerizing experience that’s both style and substance, but it’s sadly marred by an unforgiving difficulty.
In Furi, you play as a mysterious prisoner called The Stranger who’s just escaped from a jail after spending an eternity being tortured and finds himself in a futuristic world with different people who would like nothing more but to see him dead. This world is composed of ten island floating above planet earth and each of these settings has a boss waiting for you. You don’t know anything about the protagonist and the few details you do know are revealed by a cryptic man wearing a rabbit mask who goes by the name of The Voice and keeps telling you about the enemies you need to defeat to finally become free.
The structure the game follows is simple: you walk around the environments looking for a gate that takes you to the next boss encounter (this part of the game’s so trivial that you can push a button so that the character automatically strolls to the next destination.) Bosses come in different forms, shapes and sizes, but you treat them all the same, using your sword, gun or parry attack against them. The different enemies you face have several health bars and you need to deplete all of them to win the encounter. By draining a health bar from a boss, you get back all the health you’ve lost, but be careful, the same happens to the bosses.
The combat is quite creative because it mixes ideas from hack and slash and twin-stick shoot ‘em up games: you can shoot, charge shots, dodge, slash, stun, parry and more. Part of what makes the game fun is learning how to use these controls in effective ways. Fights start the same way, resembling a bullet style shooter, but once you’ve made enough damage to a boss, the game becomes a hack and slash where you dodge, shoot or parry.
Even if it qualifies as an indie game, Furi is an achievement in animation. In between fights, you move from place to place and the games uses these moments to move the camera in some compelling and stylish ways. Furi’s cinematic aspirations and inspirations are obvious and effective, showing the character from different angles. The same visual pizzazz goes for the character movement, cutscenes and the fights themselves.
Furi is a title that focuses entirely on boss fights and pattern recognition, therefore, it’s not for everyone. The game can be quite tough on its default difficulty (of course, those looking for a challenge will find it more rewarding) and if you’re too frustrated, switching to the lowest difficulty level where you have more health bars and your enemies have fewer ones is a terrific idea. From what I’ve read, completing Furi on its average difficulty should take you five to ten hours, though that, of course, depends on your experience with these types of games. So take into account that if you lower the difficulty, not only will the game be less challenging and lack achievements, it’ll take you less time to complete.
Those looking for a challenge and an unconventional style should give Furi a chance. But it should also be noted that this title can be unforgiving at times, there are occasional bugs and the visual style, though captivating at first, can be hit or miss. When I think about my experience with Furi, I tend to fall on the latter category even if wore the Promenade badge of dishonor most of my playthough.