OH MAN. Here we go, guys. Furi is a game where many of my favorite things intersect. First, you have a neon-dipped, fast-paced game based around satisfying controls and combat. Next up, a somewhat vague story driven by characters who sincerely kick ass, in more ways than one. And finally, to round out this list of things, a shorter list: a killer synth-based soundtrack with collector’s edition vinyl, and immensely difficult gameplay.
I should preface the rest of this review by saying that I’m not used to difficult games by any margin. I’m pretty sure Bloodborne and Hotline Miami rank among the hardest games I’ve played. I don’t know if that says anything about me as a person, but I like to take it easy in my games. You know, go along for the ride.
Furi is having none of that. Even during its tutorial level, Furi pushes gameplay that’s challenging to most people. The fights are long and frustrating at times, and my only qualm here is that a checkpoint after a boss has lost a certain amount of health, maybe two-thirds, would be nice. Furi offers an easier difficulty for those who don’t want to put up with the normal one, but you sacrifice the ability to earn achievements and unlock harder difficulties. You also lose the ability to unlock their speed run mode.
There’s something that keeps me coming back to Furi even as the difficulty ramps up. There’s no feeling quite like decimating a boss in their final stage without getting hit, and it’s something that comes with practice. Even in my limited play time so far, I can see myself improving. And we’ll get to that in a bit.
To set the scene, where I’m at, anyway, you’re an unnamed silent protagonist breaking out of prison with the help of some other unnamed dude wearing a purple bunny hood. To gain your freedom, “The jailer is the key. Kill him, and you’ll be free.” After every battle, you learn more about your guide, and about why you were locked up in the first place.
Gameplay and Handling
If you’re going to make a boss-rush bullet hell game, you need to nail the responsiveness of your controls. And congratulations, The Game Bakers, you’ve done it. Moving around is satisfying, as it should be with twin-stick games. You have a parry which will heal you when successful, a slash attack, and a dash at your disposal to get yourself out of tight situations and inflict damage. Parrying an attack at the last second activates a “perfect parry”, which knocks the boss down.
There’s some advanced tech in the movements as well, where you can charge a slash while dashing to avoid enemy attacks.While I find a lot of these are situational, it’s pretty nice to know. Along with healing after a successful parry, there are green projectiles that turn into health orbs when shot. They’re few and far-between, and it can sometimes be riskier getting to them than staying put.
There are a couple mechanics which make the long fights more manageable. One which I find breaks up the monotony of endless dodging is that after knocking out a boss’s shields, combat shifts to a close-quarters fight. Additionally, when you take a full bar of life off a boss, your current one is entirely healed. Conversely, the boss gets this advantage as well, and if you fail in close-quarters, the boss heals up their shields, too. This is another area where I’m critical of the choice. It seems unfair sometimes, as parrying while in close-quarters or during the shield phase doesn’t heal all too much, but it’s not a deal breaker.
Between the bosses, there’s a fair amount of exposition. These are like walking simulators with some story and background. I’m not a huge fan of walking through them so slowly. The great thing here is that there’s an auto-walk option, so you can sit back and enjoy the cutscene leading up to the next boss.
Difficulty and Frustration Factor
While I’ve already covered how difficult the game is, I haven’t quite covered how infuriating some battles are. There’s a lot to watch out for, and a lot to focus on. Sometimes due to the colorful nature of the game, projectiles and ground attacks blur together. And while it makes for interesting visuals and some pretty hard stuff to dodge, unfortunately it makes it so I can’t sit for hours and work my way through. I can do 45 minutes at most without getting sloppy– dodging directly into damage, parrying poorly, and giving up too much of my precious life bar. And unfortunately there’s nothing I can do to combat this but get better at rushing the boss and taking breaks.
I don’t want to, though. I want to be able to sink hours into the game without tearing my hair out, and to prove to myself that not only can I get good, but I can actually withstand the difficulty a game puts in front of me without falling off in how effective I am at fighting. I feel like the real fight here is to not set the difficulty to an easier one. And trust me, that temptation is alive and kicking even as I write this.
Despite all the shortcomings I have with difficult games, the one thing that keeps me going is the soundtrack. Initially I heard about the game browsing on YouTube. I can’t remember what led me there, but I saw a new track with Carpenter Brut’s name on it. I wasn’t a hard sell, Carpenter Brut is among one of my favorite synthwave artists. He sits among several others that are well-known for their music: Danger, Lorn, Scattle, and Kn1ght, to name a few. It’s available for purchase on Bandcamp (here!) as either a digital album or a collector’s edition vinyl, which is limited to a run of 800. Excuse me while I stare out my window and wait for it to arrive, please.
If you enjoy difficult games, or even just a challenge, do yourself a favor and add this one to your collection. I can’t urge you enough, without being entirely repetitive, about how much you should play this game. Even if you have to do it on easy mode, do it. There’s no game I’d recommend more from this year so far.