Furi (Switch) Review – Freed from Flaws?
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Release: 11th January 2018
Making games is hard, everyone knows that, except Asset Flips, those are pretty damn easy and sell somehow on Steam. What all this has to do with this review? Well, Furi´s developer seemingly doesn´t develop games but bakes them, as the name The Game Bakers implies and damn does their game taste good! Sorry, I stop using puns to write an interesting introduction from now on.
In an unknown land, an unknown man is imprisoned by unknown forces, until a rabbit mask-wearing man joins him to free him from this prison. From world to world, this man has to fight the nine jailers or be tortured for the rest of his existence.
Furi is another title in the recently established subgenre we now call Boss Rush, sending the player on a journey through various boss battles without rest, other enemies or any distractions. Loosely tied together by its story around the nameless swordsman and his rabbit mask guide, it’s a game completely about the nine duels. Before every fight, our companion reveals some details about their background history, what their speciality is or their goal, along with some dialogues during the gameplay.
Even the end or constant references throughout the game, hinting at a bigger twist slowly go to waste as most of the plot is more predictable than unique. Nonetheless, Furi has to offer some incredibly well-written characters like the rabbit man or certain bosses, able to communicate a distinct personality without much more than a few sentences. Personally, the weakest character of them all is actually the nameless swordsman, as he is truly characterless, lacking any kind of real development, an issue persistent in many aspects of the game.
More importantly, Furi´s mix of genres is far more interesting than the thin story. The base gameplay consists of a blend of 2.5D bullet hell and classic Hack´n Slash, with a higher focus on either of those parts depending on the boss. At first, the general flow seems rather unsurprising, shoot the boss, dodge his bullets and duel him in classic Hack´n Slash manner when he´s weak, then proceed to the next stage.
Naturally, though, no boss is the same and brings new projectiles or patterns to the table … or so I initially thought. While it´s true that every boss has its own fighting pattern, attack styles and requires different techniques in order to conquer them, their tools to achieve this goal never change. From the first to the tenth, none of them uses different projectiles, waves or even uses unique attacks. They often look differently but ultimately play the same.
Especially later on the repetitivity becomes more and more evident, when you have to dodge the same pattern for the millionth time. Additionally, the nameless hero also never gains any new moves nor advances in any remarkable way. Furi only features one combo, one bullet type and two charge attacks, which it uses until the very end. On the one hand, after finishing the game I pretty much controlled it perfectly, almost instinctively. On the other hand, it just enforces this evident feeling of repetition, the game really does seem to stop to innovate itself halfway through, mostly relying on the already implemented mechanics, denying any real feel of character or gameplay progression.
Still, Furi is far from being boring, offering a great deal of fun and challenge in all fights. No matter how repetitive the mechanics may become, they´re entertaining and require a great deal of learning, to fully understand and use them. The bosses actively go hand in hand with this concept by lying a bigger focus on different skills in every fight. In one it may be necessary to block attacks, in the next to run away from them. The finale of each phase, that end in a 1v1 duel between the nameless hero and the boss are probably its biggest strength, as it really feels like you battle them in an honest fight, man to man.
Timing is probably the most important aspect to truly master even the highest difficulty Furier and the great design, combined with the climatic duels, provide just the right environment to train it. Nonetheless, the learning curve is another thing I never was quite happy with, as the initial 1-3 fights are probably the steepest challenge I´ve seen in quite a while, while the following bosses never felt like a huge challenge afterwards. In short, the difficulty curve simply stagnates after the middle, staying challenging but never truly force you to grow your current skills, probably due to the lack of innovation.
Yet how could someone be mad about such things when Furi looks as gorgeous as it does? Surely the port is fantastic, offering a constant 60fps during bosses, details nearly on par to PS4 in important aspects and an experience able to compete with any other version, given you have a Pro Controller.
Additionally, the game itself is a gorgeous looking one, vibrating with bright colours, distinct visual design in boss battles, own colour palettes for every area and it´s simply a wonderfully coloured game. The fact the Afro Samurai creator designed the characters is just the cherry on the very top, did you look at these designs? They´re beautiful, unique and just breathtaking, if you liked the anime/manga you should definitely play Furi alone for its characters.
Furi is not a perfect game, too evident is the repetition, strange difficulty curve and lack of true character progression. Nevertheless, this addition to the eShop is nothing to miss out on, be it for the great port or simply amazing game, hindered by a few flaws. A game with character designs from the Afro Samurai creator can´t be bad after all, especially if it offers a challenging but rewarding Boss Rush experience, able to truly convey the sense of duelling an equal opponent like not many games before. A delicious game The Game Bakers served here.
[A Review Code was provided by The Game Bakers]