The gaming landscape has evolved so much that attracting attention is becoming harder, unless you are a publishing juggernaut with outlets all over the world. The thing is, many starting indie developers are focusing on creating some new mechanic or technique which will make their game stand out. Turns out, this might not always be the case since a new mechanic will not instantly make the game better even though it becomes unique. It can also happen that a game which appears to be quite plain and ordinary surprises you with how good it is once you start playing it.
This happened to me with Furi. It’s not a new release, but it’s fresh out on Xbox One following a quite successful release on PS4 and PC last year. The game is basically an only boss , where you fight boss after boss, but do not let that deter you. This game is amazing, and it will have you hooked better than a trout at the end of a professional fisherman’s rod. As mentioned before, Furi does not make use of some unique mechanic developed for the sake of this game, or rely on some snazzy graphic effect to please players and let them keep on playing. Furi’s base lies on very strong core mechanics, which anyone can learn within five minutes, repeated throughout the game. Each enemy faced will indirectly train you for the next, since although you do not gain any new abilities after defeating a boss, you will be a more proficient user of your available techniques by the end of the fight.
Furi stars an unnamed swordsman who wants to escape his prison. A figure resembling a rabbit, which one might think it is his conscience, guides him along the way, and talks to the swordsman before and after each fight, as well as yells at him when he is killed in battle. The role of the rabbit is quite large, since it is his storytelling in between fight which is going over the story and how much you wish to get out of there. The themes of prison is a constant one throughout the game, as different characters will each allude to you being locked up. Backing up the theory of prison is each fight stage. These are generally circular, with no means of escape if not by killing the enemy in front of you. The more you advance throughout the game, the more the phrase “go back” becomes common, another sign of how you are making steady progress in the game.
You swing your sword with the X button, and shoot a pistol with the right analog stick. There is also a dash to evade enemy attacks, as well as a parry for more skilled players to counter an enemy’s strike and turn the tides of battle. The mechanics of Furi definitely won me over to continue playing, but it is mostly how the developers of the game execute the “trial and error” model that impressed me the most. Your character has three health bars, while your enemy has increasingly more bars to make the challenge tougher. The trial and error comes in when you or the enemy manage to drop a whole bar of health down. The “winner” of the encounter has one whole bar of health restored. This is crucial to the game, since it lets you experiment in the beginning when you are at full health, but makes things much more urgent when you are battling with your last bar at stake. Getting an enemy’s bar down and refilling one of your own is a very satisfactory feeling in the game, especially later on when enemies start to become more unforgiving.
As far as graphics go, Furi does nothing outside of the box, but instead goes safely to comic-ish visuals, which complement the game well without needless special effects. The animation of the sword and the dashes are great, and enemy attacks look powerful as well. The audio is superb, containing some great tracks to pump up the adrenaline while fighting, while calming things down a notch inbetween fights. I really like how when pausing the game, the artist of the song currently playing in the game is displayed in the bottom right corner of the screen. It’s a very nice and subtle touch which gives credit to the producer of the music without a lot of fuss.
Overall, Furi is a great game, and probably one of the best indies I have played in the last five years. It features a strong narrative combined with very well executed mechanics and solid gameplay which will entertain players throughout. Frustration is a constant in games like this, so it will eventually make you a little mad when the same boss kills you over and over again, but the feeling when you finally land that killing blow almost cannot be expressed into words.