Review: Furi

Furi is a game about weaving a path between bullets and lasers until you reach one of the many bosses you’ll face, whittling him down until you deal the killing blow and move on to the next boss. It’s hard, it’s fast, and it’s the wet dream of anyone fond of boss rush segments. I’ve played it for a decent bit, though I’ve yet to defeat a couple of bosses, and here are my impressions.

Furi is rather straight to the point, apart from the segments between each boss fight, where you’ll leisurely walk from the enemy you just defeated to your next foe, a man with a bunny head mask talking to you about what’s happening and who you’re going to face. That aside, it’s all about the boss fights: each of them is split into increasingly devious phases, as each of their health bars that you clear will either add or change their tactics and attacks, often making them harder to face. The prisoner, the second boss you face, starts off with her legs snapped onto a single-wheel device and her hands locked tight – each time you deplete a health bar she breaks free from one of these, eventually going from a rather slow enemy who favors shooting laser beams from afar to a rapidly crawling creature who will pounce and strike you from both close and far.

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Seamless integration of bullethell and action segments meant I was constantly on the tip of my chair.

As you can imagine, Furi’s characters are aesthetically bizarre, looking like a mix between game and anime-drawn inspirations – the protagonist is a caped man with white hair that sticks out like strands of thunder from his head, the man who follows you wears a purple bunny head and speaks in a cryptic manner and the bosses range from weird, helmeted green things to an old, bare-chested man with a pair of large headphones. My initial impression of this being somehow related to Afro Samurai wasn’t unfounded, either, as the creator of the manga series, Takashi Okazaki, did in fact design them.

In terms of gameplay, the rules are simple: you have a sword, with which you can parry, strike and deliver a stronger, charged strike; a gun that you can charge for stronger shots; and the ability to dash, which again you can charge for a longer dash. Fights will have you facing bosses across several different phases, each comprised of two parts: an initial one where you must hurt him enough to daze him, and a second one, after dazing him, where you must deplete his health bar again, this time only in melee range. There are some exceptions, such as the third boss, but generally speaking this is how things go.

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The graphics aren’t particularly hardware-intensive or detailed, but the artstyle, character design and sound really coalesce to make a memorable experience.

Coincidentally, the third boss also was one of my worse experiences with the game, as he forced me to play slower than I had with the first two bosses, often having to shoot at him from afar instead of switching it up between ranged and melee, which is where the game really shines. With its fluid gameplay, alternating between striking your enemy from afar and getting up close to him made each fight unique, even when I played them again, and it was clear from the start that despite being simple, there was a lot I could improve on in terms of skill, such as timing my parries perfectly (which allow you to deal a stronger counter-attack, with a special animation and whatnot) and knowing when to deliver a charged strike, which leaves you vulnerable and might make you miss the boss’s vulnerability window.

Fortunately, Furi’s boss fights are not of the frequent “lose until you learn how to win” sort – you have a sizable health pool, which you can replenish by parrying, gathering green bullets or depleting one of the boss’s health squares, and I never found myself needing multiple attempts to figure out how to defeat a boss, though perfecting the method until I actually was able to did often mean repeating the boss a few times, specially the final ones.

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One of the few issues: when the game locks you into a single style of gameplay, like shooting, thus lowering the tempo.

I’d be remiss not to mention the thumping, electronic soundtrack, which fits like a glove with the fast-paced, high-octane boss fights, and more than matches the bizarre technology of the game.

Equal parts bullet-hell and action game, Furi is a game that capitalizes on its near absolute lack of downtime: there’s no grind, there’s no filler, there’s just a bunch of increasingly difficult trials to face, the bosses – all without ever feeling unfair or needlessly punishing, although it doesn’t spare you in terms of difficulty.

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