Updated on 12.5.16 for launch on Xbox One
There are few games that have ever kicked my ass as much as Furi. I consider myself to be a fairly talented gamer, and enjoy hardcore challenges, so a game that consists solely of ultra-challenging boss fights speaks to me, and that’s what Furi is: fast-paced, unforgiving, and spectacularly badass. This is a game that dares you to keep playing, after easily handing you your ass time and time again.
The player takes on the role of a nameless warrior who has been locked away in an elaborate prison for an unknown crime. The objective: kill your captors, and break free. Along the way, you’ll get help from a mysterious character known as The Voice, who dispenses exposition along the way. The premise is simple, and serves as a fantastic excuse to fight a bunch of high-powered bosses, one after another, but the story is more than it seems. By the end of the game, I found myself invested in the protagonist’s journey and wanted answers to many questions that arose as the narrative unfolded. I won’t go into spoilers, but the plot did not disappoint.
The combat in Furi is simple, with only a few abilities available to the player, but they’re all difficult to master. In terms of offensive moves, the player can melee with their katana, or shoot projectiles with their laser blaster. Defensively, the player can dodge, allowing them a split second of invulnerability where they can pass through otherwise deadly obstacles. They can also parry, which requires extremely precise timing, but can heal the player, and open the enemy to attacks. That’s about all the tools that the player has at their disposal, but it’s nowhere near as simple as it sounds.
The boss fights in Furi are absolutely spectacular. Each one is uniquely challenging, and most require the player to master a particular element of the game, whether it be parrying, ranged attacks, dodging, or precise movement. In one encounter, the player has an extremely intimate melee battle where even the smallest mistake can prove fatal, while in another encounter the player has a long-ranged fight that requires frantic movement across the arena. The sheer variety of fights and range of different experiences is breathtaking.
Mechanically, Furi is punishing, but smart. The player only has three lives to defeat a boss, and the bosses themselves have anywhere from three to eight phases, and a whole slew of abilities and attacks, so the odds are stacked against the player. However, every time the player overcomes a phase, they earn one of their lives back, which allows some room for the player to learn from their errors without having to start all over again. In my time with Furi, I certainly died a lot, but I rarely died more than once on the same phase, which meant that the fight was never over if I had difficulty with a particular section.
Furi even manages to do many things well that other games handle terribly, particularly with characterizing each of the bosses. In many games, the characters you fight during a boss fight are uninteresting and repeat the same tired lines at the player again and again. In Furi, each boss has a unique personality, and you learn more and more about them as the fight progresses. The dialogue during the fights isn’t filler, it’s storytelling, and it makes getting to the next section that much more desirable.
When a game requires the player to replay certain sections over and over again, it’s useful if that game has an enjoyable presentation, and Furi has it in spades. Graphically, Furi certainly isn’t the most high-res game out there. Its art style is cartoony, and environments are undetailed, but it’s styled in a way that suits the game perfectly. Sure, the protagonist’s hair almost constantly clips through his body and clothes, but somehow the plain look of the characters justifies any imperfect details.
The sound of Furi, on the other hand, is truly flawless. The soundtrack for Furi is provided by a medley of electronic artists, a la Hotline Miami. It gets the blood pumping during boss fights, while serving as a calmer ambience during the narrative sections in-between fights, and is all of a very high quality. The sound effects and voice acting are similarly excellent, with each character having a very distinct voice and believable delivery, and the clang of swords, and crackle of explosions permeate throughout the game, without ever becoming annoying.
Unfortunately, Furi does suffer from performance issues on the PS4, which take the form of occasional framerate stutters. This is extremely unfortunate in a game that requires such precise response time, as it almost always results in the player taking damage that they don’t deserve. In one instance, this issue caused me to die and have to start the fight all over again, which was really frustrating. The good news is that these issues are not very prominent, and only detract from the experience minimally.
Furi comes to Xbox:
Furi was recently launched on the Xbox One, and includes an all-new boss fight that’s exclusive to that console. The performance and presentation on Xbox is identical to that of the PS4, and the new boss fight presents a whole new set of unique challenges. Playing through Furi a second time has confirmed to me that it is one of the best games to come out this year, and Xbox players should feel lucky to have this definitive version.
Furi kicked my ass, and I loved it. There was laughter, there were tears, but most of all, there was a goddamned great game. The combat is extremely taxing, but fair, and the narrative is surprisingly rewarding. If you’re a masochist, Furi is the game you’ve been waiting for.