What do you get when the art director of Afro Samurai, Takashi Okazaki, gets involved on an unorthodox hack and slash indie game?
You get Furi. One sword. One gun. Multiple guardians with one goal: to stop you from breaking out of prison. This is the concept of Furi, a game centered around the tension of boss fights, before and during.
As far as the introductory story goes, you are a warrior, and you are unjustly imprisoned in an otherworldly setting. Your task is to slash, shoot, and dodge your way through each of the worlds as you make your way out of your prison.
Pretty straightforward, right? Well, here’s the kicker: you only go from boss battle to boss battle. There are no “canon fodder” to cleave your way through, no upgrades, no unlockable bonuses. There’s just one boss battle after another.
Now, the story unfolds in cut scenes and narrations from your unlikely non-combative ally: a mysterious man with an odd bunny hat who seem to know all a
bout your predicament. For those familiar with it, it’s very akin to Afro Samurai. You will feel like you are playing a chapter right out of the series. The techno-heavy music is beautiful and it will do wonders to keep you on your feet. Neon coloring, slow unraveling of the story, a silent protagonist with a gun and sword, and a crazy cast of villains, and a music that compliments every aesthetic; all blend beautifully to create an unique experience.
The controls are fairly simple. Dodging, shooting, charging, blocking. That’s all you get, and to be fair that’s all you need. But between the beautiful cell shaded graphics, the story build up and the relatively simple controls, one should NEVER consider this an easy game. The tutorial is just as cinematic as any part of the game. Even as a tutorial, this is not a battle to be trifled around with. Although the control schemes are explained very nicely and the fluidity of the mechanics is clearly demonstrated, the complexity of this game is very apparent from the get go.
Each boss is very unique, each with it’s own unique patterns of attacks and phases. Much like some other boss centric games, each boss has a few bars of health. Now, each of these bars will signify a certain pattern of attack from the boss, which you have to avoid, much like a bullet-hell game, in order to get close to the enemy and cleave it down. After each bar is degraded to a certain extent, you and the enemy is locked in a small area where close combat occurs. The same “dodge, parry, cleave” method is implemented here as well, but with different animations and attacks. Once you hit the enemy enough times here, this single bar of the enemy’s health is depleted and you move on to it’s next phase. Keep in mind, during any phase, if one of your health bar is depleted, the phase restarts. It’s an odd “tug of war” mechanics that works beautifully together.
If all that seemed complicated, allow me to make it a tad bit worse. As stated earlier, this is no easy game. If you are a casual gamer, you will have a tough time with this. However, if you’re glutton for punishment, this one is for you. All that being said, the feeling of accomplishment after defeating an enemy is undeniable. You will know that you are getting better and that it was your skills alone that brought you victory.
The talented developers at The Game Bakers have gotten a runaway hit in their hands. Furi is an aesthetically pleasing, musically beautiful, and a short and precise story. The gameplay is as punishing as it is addictive. The team behind the game deserves a pat on the back for this masterpiece.
If you have a PlayStation 4 with a PSN account, you cannot pass on this. If you are on the PC, Furi is available on Steam. For the PC, it is recommended that you use an Xbox 360 or an Xbox One controller. This is one game, this reviewer is happy to have paid full price and support the indie developers. In my humble opinion, it is worth every penny. I will be keeping a keen eye on The Game Bakers from now on.