Furi is a game that took me completely by surprise. Currently free for PlayStation Plus members or available on Steam for around £20, it is a game that is uncompromisingly difficult — and yet feels incredibly rewarding in a way that differs from more traditional games known for their difficulty, such as the Dark Souls series.
The amazing electronic sound track, the bright neon sci-fi colors, and fast-paced gameplay all blend harmoniously together to form something truly remarkable. Fast-paced and addictive, Furi is a gem. A raw unrefined gem that could use some serious polishing, but a gem none the less.
The Good Stuff
Furi is a mash of genres, a twin stick shooter with bullet hell elements coupled with hack and slash mechanics — which leads to fast-paced gameplay from start to finish. The game is made up of a series of boss fights where you have to shoot, parry, and dodge your way to victory, with short walking segments between fights. The gameplay for the most part is incredibly fluid and responsive, leaving you feeling like you’re truly in control of the character. There is no hand holding here.
Within the walking segments you are given tiny doses of story and background by your jail breaker, a man with an uncanny resemblance to the rabbit in the film Donnie Darko. These walking segments are a welcome respite between each boss and the auto walk feature (mapped to X or L1) helps you to relax and unwind, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere and music before diving into another manic conflict. This is a huge contrast to the hectic boss fights that make up the majority of the game and is a subsequent breath of fresh air.
The majority of the boss fights are excellent, all differing from one another significantly enough in terms of gameplay and aesthetics to ensure you don’t feel like you’re repeating the same process over and over again.
Furi is not without its problems. I managed to beat the entirety of the base game on hard difficulty in one sitting, with little over 4 hours of playtime. Whilst this does unlock the harder difficulty it is still remarkably short — and if you are someone who will just put the game down after finishing it once, then the £20 price point may be a bit steep.
There are also issues with the gameplay. On one boss that spawns walls I ended up getting stuck in one as it spawned, meaning I was trapped and bombarded with projectiles I was unable to dodge till I died. It left a rather bitter taste in my mouth as it took almost 10 minutes to get to that point. The lack of a checkpoint system on bosses also led to some serious frustration, as it takes you a while to reach the final stage of some bosses, and you have to repeat all this over again should you die.
There are also one or two bosses that I found rather lackluster and boring, which in a game that revolves around these boss fights is not something you want to encounter.
The parry system is flawed as well. The bosses’ parry-able melee attacks are accompanied by a sound and normally a white flash. However often if you press the parry button when these indicators show up, you simply won’t parry the attack. This is incredibly frustrating, forcing you to learn boss animations through brute force of trial and error to proceed. On the longer fights at the end of the game, this can be soul crushing, especially as two of the later bosses require you to do nothing but parry to defeat them.
The dash mechanic can also be an issue. It really isn’t as precise as I’d like and the short delay between being able to use my dash subsequently led to an infuriating amount of deaths on my part in the last phase of a later boss.
Not all of the controls are explained coherently either. The majority of the base ones are explained in the first boss, which is more of a tutorial than anything else. However there was a mechanic where if you moved the right stick whilst in close combat, you glow orange and do more damage. This is not something that was ever explained in-game, and I discovered it accidentally through just mashing all the buttons — as I do at the beginning of every game. I had to go hunting through the menu’s in order to discover what this ability actually did.
The ending of Furi bears mentioning, as it took me completely by surprise and is what pushed me over the edge from liking the game to loving it. I was genuinely surprised by the level of emotion I felt upon defeating the last boss before the credits — it was something I didn’t expect, especially from a game with a silent protagonist and one that feels very light on story.
Furi is by no means perfect. But the core experience is a lot of fun, and took me by great surprise. The excellence of the soundtrack cannot be understated and fits perfectly with the play style and theme of the game. The combat for the most part is visceral and rewarding whilst being challenging.
If you own a PlayStation 4 and have PlayStation Plus I highly recommend you download Furi now while it’s free — and if you don’t, consider purchasing it on steam. I doubt you’ll regret it. As I stated at the beginning of this review, Furi is a raw uncut gem of an experience. With a little refinement and polish it truly could have been something brilliant.