Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Available on PC, PS4 (reviewed)
Released: July 5, 2016
Hardcore games are not my bag. I have mentioned in earlier reviews that I’ve have played all of the Dark Souls games to completion without actually having much fun doing so. While I respect anyone with the patience and fortitude to make gaming a skill, I never saw it that way for myself. Games are supposed to be an escape from the stress and malaise of real life, like movies or a good book. This is why I’ve always enjoyed single player narratives most among the art form. I see games that require specific timing and precise movement as exercises in frustration. So why did I like Furi and its seeming indifference to people like me?
First off, Furi is not a terribly long affair. I beat the game in around 8 hours, and that includes the endless repetitions of the same battles over and over again. If someone came into this game on their second try, knowing the mechanics, they could probably beat it within 2-3 hours.
Secondly, Furi’s story is so very abstract and odd, that you don’t feel immediately compelled to have to beat it. It’s one of those games you could spend 30 minutes on here and there for the next 6 months while you played the rest of your library. I rather enjoyed that I felt no compulsion to keep playing or rush back to it with any regularity. In this way, it’s a quick fix; one small dose at a time.
Furi is a game of boss battles. There are no grunts to kill in this game. No environmental puzzles to get from one place to another. No dialogue to take part in. You are a silent protagonist (or antagonist, depending on how you see the story) called The Stranger. You are jailed on some other world, with ten obstacles to defeat in the form of some very unique characters. In secret, a man in a bunny helmet comes and frees you from your bonds and weaponizes you, explaining that it’s time to start kicking some ass. In between each battle, you walk to the next area, followed by the bunny man, who continually urges you to push forward, giving his take on each boss and why they need to be eliminated. These transitions seem to serve as tranquil experiences after tough battles to help bring down your blood pressure and revel in victory after your last kill, but they come off ham fisted and pretentious. It’s as if The Game Bakers were so very pleased with their writing that they decided to jam it down your throat as a gift to you. A goose I am not, my friends.. A goose I am not.
This is a game centered around battles though, so let’s get into those. The battles in Furi are great. You have a sword, you have a gun. You have two levels of attack with each, but it is the timing used with these tools that offers you a chance to win. You’ve also got a dash that makes you very momentarily invincible which must be used to avoid projectiles and a parry/block that is, at times, the only way to dispatch an enemy. All of these mechanics must be used with deft accuracy to beat the bosses, which will not happen often. You come into these fights at a major disadvantage, and you will lose much more than you win. This is the point of the game. When you kill a boss, you are supposed to feel as if you have overcome enormous odds, and you have. They have more health, they kill you easily, and they move more quickly and without hindrance. So gameplay wise, you have a wonderfully relentless battle system that requires a great deal of attention and rewards you with a polished, fulfilling experience.
Furi also gets a thumbs up in the visual department. It’s not cell-shaded necessarily, but much of the characters and environments give off that feel. It is remarkably colorful and bright, with a stark contrast between the characters as a subject and the energy effects that follow them around. Take mushrooms, dust off your Dreamcast, and pop in Jet Set Radio. That’s about as accurate a description as I can come up with.
The sound is a mixed bag. Your sword being unsheathed is always accompanied by a very cool crackle and the impact of the weapons always seems to come with a satisfying thud or slice. The voice acting is okay, albeit repetitious for how many times you’ll be experiencing each character. Overall it’s a passable sound design with very crisp notes, but nothing that’ll blow you away.
So is Furi a hardcore game? Yeah, I’d say it qualifies amongst those I’d have to consider under that umbrella, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome and the characters are interesting enough to keep you in your seat for the length of time it’ll take you to figure out their timing and end them.
Verdict: This was a free game for PS4 Plus users in August, so it was very worth it at the time. Given my personal proclivities, I probably wouldn’t have played it otherwise. I’d definitely consider picking it up if you like dashy battle games like Hyper Light Drifter or if you find pleasure in the soul crushing exercise that is a From Software release.
Heads Up: There are 3 possible endings to this game.