Developer: The Game Bakers | Publisher: The Game Bakers | Genre: Action, shoot ’em up, hack and slash | Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch | Reviewed On: Switch
“Abused patience turns to fury.”
– Thomas Fuller
Released by the French indie studio The Game Bakers, the fast-paced action game Furi, is a combination of Hack and Slash swordplay, twin-stick shooting, and non-stop action. It’s also a game consisting entirely of boss fights of escalating difficulty. There are no levels to explore, no disposable cannon fodder, and no puzzles to solve. It’s essentially a series of extremely difficult boss fights strung together by extremely stylish animated cutscenes.
To note that Furi is not for everyone is to belabor the obvious. Not that any game will please everyone but truth be told, Furi is one of those games that a small percentage of gamers will appreciate. On the surface, Furi may seem like it’s all about style but dig deeper and you’ll appreciate the level of craftsmanship that went into making this indie gem – that is, if you have the patience and skill to progress far enough. Did I mention this game is tough as nails?
For fans of well-made but challenging indie games, Furi is a real treat. Part Ninja Gaiden, part Dark Souls, part Metal Gear Solid (and very much Punch-Out!!), Furi is a game that manages to feel both new and long-forgotten at the same time. You play as a mysterious character (known as The Stranger) who has spent a good number of years rotting away in a highly advanced prison composed of ten islands floating in orbit above a planet’s surface. At the beginning of the game, an enigmatic man wearing a rabbit disguise (known as The Voice), frees the Stranger, gives him a sword and gun, and encourages him to fight for his freedom. From there, it pits you against just under a dozen powerful guardians who exist only to prevent him from escaping.
Furi isn’t coy about its difficulty. The first boss fight alone will kick your ass and each enemy has multiple health bars, each representing a more challenging phase of combat. You begin each fight with three lives but if you die three times during a single phase, you’ll have to start over again. Needless to say, determination and patience go a long way when playing Furi. What makes Furi so gratifying, however – at least for me – is how your attack consists of only four basic actions: shoot, slash, dodge, and parry. In other words, while these bosses may be difficult to defeat, the game itself is simple in design.
In terms of gameplay, Furi is all about pattern recognition, fast reflexes and sometimes, patience. In order to defeat each opponent, players must figure out how to counter their attacks. Because of this, in some ways, Furi is like a rhythm game. The major key to beating the game is predicting the opponent’s next move, timing your actions, evading danger, and punishing openings whenever possible.
Whether or not you connect with Furi’s difficulty, you can still admire the developer’s attention to color, texture, and music, which is rarely matched by other indie devs working today. Thanks to the boss design by Takashi Okazaki (creator of Afro Samurai), each daunting opponent in Furi’s strange and colorful interstellar prison has a distinct look, attack and level design. Most stages are small claustrophobic arenas, but some battles are fought amidst a web of platforms while others shift to a 2D plane. From vast landscapes of neon-bathed rooftops and reflectors, through the rusted shells of the post-apocalyptic prison, to the burned-ochre glow of radioactive wastelands presented through dramatic and occasionally unsettling camera angles, key artist Anthony Beyer conjures a world Philip K. Dick would dream of. Every battle is heightened by a thumping soundtrack composed by artists like Carpenter Brut (Hotline Miami 2) and Lorn (Killzone Shadow Fall) whose electronic compositions provide the perfect accompaniment to both the frantic gameplay and stunning interludes. Furi registers on the senses like a pointillist work of art, in which every small, detail comes together to form something truly special. The first time I played Furi, I was overwhelmed by its difficulty but astonished by its achievements.
Furi is a difficult game to enjoy because it’s so damn difficult. To enjoy Furi is to master your attack, a process that will involve having to start over and over again, and in turn, causing immense frustration. Regardless, Furi is the product of a studio to watch out for and may prove to be one of the more rewarding and rage-inducing gaming experiences in many a year.
– Ricky D
Editor’s Note: The game contains two normal endings and a secret ending that can only be unlocked if you play through the hard mode.