A Review by Tim Pham
A Lesson In Brutality
Furi is an intensely demanding boss rush game filled with sword-parrying and bullet-hell elements. Each guardian is designed by Afro Samurai’s creator, Takashi Okazaki. Presented using a unique Asian inspired style and aesthetic with hefty EDM incorporation, Furi will make your palms sweat and hairs stand on edge throughout the action packed twitch dueler.
The jailer is the key, kill him and you’ll be free.
Awakening to a detained state, an unknown figure unshackles you. This is the catalyst that sparks the war upon the guardians; fighting, slashing, and running your way through the surrealistic world in order to piece together what is worth fighting for. Furi is about you, the hero, regaining your freedom.
There are only 2 difficulty modes available for selection at first; descriptions provided below:
- Enjoy the universe and story, but the game will be much shorter and very easy. Does not unlock trophies [achievements], Furier difficulty, or Speedrun mode.
- The game is designed to be challenging and demanding. This recommended difficulty level can be changed after a game over (losing to a boss), however, lowering to Promenade CANNOT be reversed.
After beating the game in Furi mode, you’ll unlock the Furier difficulty (hardcore). Beat it in Furier, you’ll unlock a Speedrun mode (compete against time or number of hits – with leaderboards). Regarding difficulty, it may be important to mention that although there is keyboard support, the game heavily recommends using a controller.
It is very important to understand that Furi is a boss fight game. You beat one boss, get a little bit of dialogue or cut-scene action, and then move on to the next (you cannot skip bosses). There are no items, stats, leveling system, quests, or anything of that nature to worry about. Just boss fights, plain and simple, figuratively speaking. Although this may sound repetitive, I can assure you it is not. Bosses vary wildly, each with extremely different move-sets, abilities, aggressiveness, range, arena design, weaknesses, and attack combos. QTEs will also be presented, sparingly.
Furi offers a simple set of controls: shoot, slash, parry and dodge. With the exception of parrying, each action can be charged for greater effect. The button presses are also ultra-responsive for the most part – the actions are immediately executed; however, the dash does have a slight delay. The difficulty of combat revolves around perfecting your parry timing, improving reflexes, learning attack patterns, counter-attacking when appropriate, and staying calm. Nearly every move is telegraphed beforehand (shine, spark, neon glow, war cry, etc.) so there is never a need to button-mash, spam, or spray and pray.
Promenade vs. Furi
On Furi difficulty, you have 3 health bars while bosses generally have 12 (technically 6 shield bars over 6 health bars). On Promenade difficulty, you have 5 health bars while the bosses generally have 3/3 shield/health bars (sometimes less). Since Furi’s gameplay is comprised solely of boss fights, it is highly recommended to play on Furi difficulty. The challenge is a major part of the game design, and playing on Promenade may reward you with a shallow and truncated experience, especially since the difficulty levels are so drastically disparate; however, feel free to play whichever difficulty you like. Players that are new to the parrying fight-style or bullet-hell sequences may already find a challenge in Promenade mode, and there is nothing wrong with that. The real thrill of this game is seen in the eyes of your enemies as they fall, one by one.
Every time bosses lose a shield bar, a weakened state will allow the player to initiate a close quartered combat zone and attack their health directly. Each shield bar of a boss also represents a phase, so-to-speak, where move-sets, abilities and aggressiveness change upon transitioning to the next phase. If the player loses an entire health bar (KO), the boss and player will both recover their current health bars (until game over). The bosses will also regain their shield bars, effectively resetting the phase. Upon transitioning to the next boss phase, the player regains all lost health and one additional health bar. Health orbs are sometimes shot out from the boss, directly or encased in hazardous orbs, and parrying will also recover health, helping prolong or deny premature deaths. It is also possible to parry certain projectiles if you’re in a pinch, or want to throw in some extra damage. The parry window is very limited; therefore, it is very important to repress the urge to spam it and time the action accordingly.
This video gameplay showcases my encounters with 3 separate bosses: The Strap, The Line, and The Scale, on Furi difficulty.
Longevity & Replayability
Furi is first and foremost, a boss rush, twitch fighter. There are no RPG elements, quests, missions, or anything of that nature. The combat comprises all of Furi’s gameplay, and its longevity/replayability is dependent upon your desire to improve your rank (S, A, B, C, D)/speedrun times or try it on a much harder difficulty (Furier). Improving your rank will unlock boss specific artwork, and leaderboards are provided for speedrunning. The game will take approximately 7-8 hours to complete depending on your skill level on Furi difficulty (3-4 hours on Promenade difficulty). Furier difficulty takes the boss fights to a whole new level. The guardians’ attack patterns will change (lengthier melee combos, wider/crazier AOE pulses and bullet-hell phases, etc.) forcing you to play in a different manner. Perfectly parrying is even more paramount to success. There are also multiple endings to this game, one of which will terminate the game prematurely. You will know which one when you get there.
A Review by Warwick Janetzki
I believe that I am relatively high skilled across many games and genres. Games such as Dark Souls, XCOM, Alien: Isolation, Ori and the Blind Forest are some of the titles I have beaten. These are games that are renown for their difficulty. They are games that I have devoured in spite of a tendency of rage quitting from time to time. Aside from difficulty. it seems like they all have something in common. They are fair. As a result, for a game to have a basis to be judged positively upon its difficulty there must be fairness. A poorly programmed and developed game cannot be labeled ‘difficult’ if it is because the RNG is impossible or the computer cheats. All of the great ‘difficult’ games have this in common.
Every time that I received damage and an ultimate death in Furi I knew I had made a mistake. The mistake that I had made was obvious the moment that it was committed. I was never left to second guess what I had done incorrectly or question the AI. As a result, I also realized that the game is so impeccably programmed that I know that it rewards on the attributes that matter most. Players must have the patience, concentration and the skill in order to succeed. Anything less at any moment in time and I knew that I would be punished.
It is because of this that I can claim that Furi is genuinely difficult and not for illegitimate means.
The challenge in Furi is one that has been a part of video games since the early days of gaming, boss fights. The first boss fight took place in 1975’s Dnd. A golden dragon serves to prevent a player from advancing throughout the game too rapidly. From there the mechanic took off and become something that was often utilized. Consequently, many gamers have fond memories of many encounters. These include, among my personal favorites, Mike Tyson himself in Mike Tyson’s Punch-out, Ornstein & Smough in Dark Souls, Big Daddy in BioShock and Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid.
To base an entire game around the ideology of the boss fight, however, is a rather clever tactic. However, Furi is able to deliver because the development and the delivery of the encounters themselves are almost flawless. At least so far in what I have experienced. The encounters that I have had have thus far resulted in are so varied that no two encounters feel similar. Each requires a completely different strategy. Just when you have conquered one and believe that you have learned everything required to complete the game the next tests your confidence.
Is it Steamified?
Furi has 33 Steam achievements to reward players who are able to conquer its difficulty. However, the game is not currently a part of the Steam trading card program.
I am thoroughly enjoying my time with Furi. It may well prove to be one of my favorite ever games when I or if I am capable of completing it. The varied boss battles are a highlight. However, it is in the fairness of the difficulty that has me singing its praises. Consequently, I absolutely do recommend it for those of you who are open to a challenge. May it serve as the wake-up call to your own gaming mortality.
Published by: The Game Bakers
Release date: 5 July 2016