Furi might have been released in the summer on PS4, but as we approach Christmas its Xbox One release is finally upon us.
You play as a mysterious white-haired ninja who’s been trapped aboard a strange levitating jail, protected by some hard ass jailer who’s more than happy to let you know your destiny is in his hands… Clearly this guy likes to be in charge, so it’s only natural that getting out of that place is going to require one hell of a fight.
Sure enough a pretty epic scrap ensues, and anyone familiar with retro bullet-hell gameplay will have some idea of what to expect from a standard boss character. You’ll need to pull off lots of dodges to evade incoming projectiles whilst carefully timing strikes and counter attacks as you slowly grind down your opponents energy bar until you’re victorious.
When you’re thrown in at the deep end like this, you’d think it’s safe to assume that soon after this all of your powers would be stripped. You’d then start to work your way through re-learning everything you once knew as you combat a range of underpowered enemies who gradually increase in strength and intelligence.
With Furi though, only part of that is right, enemies do get bigger, better, stronger and more challenging, but your escape and journey forth is placed on the back seat, as there’s no goons to fight; just one hard-as-nails boss after another.
So many games fall into the rut of throwing dozens of simple challenges before one big boss fight, and then rinse and repeat the same formula. Furi sticks with the boss battles, and only rinsed away the part in between, leaving one tough challenge after another.
Obviously it’s a pretty tall ask, and sure enough you will die, so it’s pretty tough to find you have to start that boss over when you do meet your demise. This wouldn’t be too bad if a battle only took a few minutes, but it’s not unusual to spend half an hour slowly learning a boss — their attack patterns and how best to work away at the energy bar — before they’re on their last legs and bang! You’re dead… back to square one.
Sure enough, once you learn the techniques on hand, you’ll make short work of the early stages of that characters energy levels. But sometimes you’ll die numerous times before you get to and master the last few hits of the battle, and replaying these earlier parts time and time again grates on you, as slowly but just as surely as you chip away at that health bar.
Devoid of any real story line, your only real narration is that of a man-sized rabbit that seems to be wielding a hockey stick. He’s obviously quite an influential chap, because upon his suggestion you head out to attack and kill the jailer.
At this point, it becomes plainly obvious that there’s literally nothing outside of the main battles. The walk up to the platform where the jailer is taking a well deserved respite, is as simple as press ‘A’ to auto-walk. This is probably for the best because selecting the direction of these walking sections is simply terrible. The view switches from one angle to another but the control direction remains the same, meaning you never really know where you’re heading, so maybe it’s best to just hold down the ‘A’ button after all.
Step forth into the battle and you’ll find a fast, precise and fluent control scheme that will see you dodging back and forth and combining sword attacks and projectile shots to slowly wear down your enemy. First time round I died without much thought, but you soon start to get to grips with the system, and while the controls maybe could be a little easier, it’s not too long before you’re making short work of this first boss.
Controls are pretty simple to learn: shoot, slash, dodge and parry, with a charge attack for all except the latter. It’s simple and effective but takes some getting used to, combining each to pick away at your enemy as you dodge, dodge and keep dodging their barrage of attacks.
Moving on to the second area, there’s some crazed S&M chick on a Segway with a light on her head (well that’s what it looks like). You’ll find new techniques are called for as this boss is a little more mobile. Going through the various enemies you come across you’ll find a purpose for everything you know, and more than enough of a challenge along the way. Like I mentioned earlier, checkpoints are as unforgiving as many of the challenges you’ll come across, but there’s a certain charm to combat and a worthwhile feeling of achievement when you do get past.
Graphically it’s a mixed bag, using a very flat Anime style, in a 3D world maybe shouldn’t work as well as it does, but the smooth and fluid gameplay means it all flashes past with the blink of an eye. Textures could have been more detailed and the world more populated, and while characters you’ll meet are impressive in design, they’re sadly not going to be massaging your eyeballs.
There’s a pretty awesome soundtrack to back up the visuals, and for the most part, it’s all well done, the minimal voice acting is done very well, and the dynamic music accompanies the action perfectly. The audio isn’t as layered as some titles we could mention, but it’s certainly a deeper experience than is offered graphically.
As for play-time, Furi will take you a while to get through.
Not solely through length, but memorizing each attack and working through a boss will nearly always take you multiple attempts. Like the great arcade games of yesteryear; Furi doesn’t need a strong story, pointless walking around, or an interesting protagonist. Instead it puts all of it’s eggs in one basket and relies on top quality gameplay to get through.
Mostly this works well, providing a great level of replayability, but rest assured your patience will be tested just as much as your memory.