You awaken in a jail cell, bound. In front of you starts a man with three demon masks. He attacks you, telling you you’ll be here forever. He clearly enjoys punishing you. He walks away, and suddenly another man, this one dressed like a rabbit, frees you. “Kill the jailer. Kill him and you’ll be free” he says. And so, your adventure in the world of Furi begins. Furi is a game that focuses entirely on battles, with you advancing from person to person as you escape your bizarre floating prison and attempt to return to the world below.
There are two main forms of attacking: swordplay and shooting. During shooting segments, you’ll usually be in a situation akin to a bullet hell game. You’ll be shooting at your foe while they attempt to take you down. You won’t be locked into using your long range weapon during these segments, but you’ll often choose it over your sword. After dealing enough damage, fights usually get much closer, during which you’ll be using you sword attacks while dodging and parrying the enemy. These segments usually require quick reflexes and timing, meshing well with the strategic, dodge-based gameplay of the long range segments.
Furi is a beautiful game. It’s got a cell shaded design that meshes mystical and gritty environments very well. The end result is something akin to playing the video game equivalent of a techo-samurai style anime. It’s very entertaining to enter a new world, see entirely different scenery and encounter a new foe. Each enemy you encounter has their own attack patterns to learn and counter, and each one feels very unique and interesting. The story comes aloung in short bursts as you travel from arena to arena, usually delivered by your rabbit companion. Short, cryptic messages will be your only true company throughout the game, which help set the tone very well.
This game is almost reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus in terms of gameplay, as it uses a minimalist approach that focuses on boss battles, with some short travel segments in between. Unfortunately, these segments become horridly boring once you start settling in. You’re forced to walk slowly from place to place, and often you’ll take a wrong turn and end up walking into a wall, thinking it’s the path you’re supposed to be taking. Then you’ll have to turn around and make a right turn instead of a left to get back on track. These little segments really break up the pace of the game, and frankly would’ve worked better as cutscenes, or at the very least, as much shorter, straighter segments.
That aside, Furi is a lot of fun. It’s a challenging game that will force you to learn patterns and adjust accordingly. You’ll be engaging in fights that really feel like fights, and even though the enemy’s attack patterns are pre-determined, there’s enough diversity to keep things intense the entire time. When you finally deal that killing blow, you’ll often find yourself breathing a sigh of relief, before the dread of realising you now have to take a 5 minute slow walk sets in. As you progress through the game, the battles will only get tougher. You need to grow as a player to get through them; there’s no power-ups or experience points to help you aloung on this quest. That level of personal growth can be really rewarding, if you’re open to the experience. More casual players, however, might find it grating or irritating to lose time and time again before you master how your opponent fights.
If you’re looking for a game that hearkens back to that special little sub-genre of PS3/Wii era games that provides something really different, you’ll probably really enjoy Furi. It’s not a perfect game by any means, but it lives up to its $20 price tag quite well. It’s a game that rewards you intrinsically rather than externally, rewarding you with the feeling of overcoming a new obstacle. Whether or not you enjoy it will largely depend on how much you enjoy a challenge, and how much you enjoy games that rely on quick wits and pattern recognition. If Furi sounds like a game you’d enjoy, you’ll probably end up loving it. If you’re curious about it, you should give it a try. It’s definitely not a game for everyone, but it’s a well made game that deserves an honest chance.