This year’s PAX East was not only my first time being press at a convention, but my first time being at a big one in general. You can only imagine, me, bright eye and bushytailed, being overwhelmed by the amount of people, and scared out of my mind for my first appointment. Not only that, but add in the fact that I got turned around and got lost. When I finally found the Furi booth, I was welcomed with smiles, kind words, and a couch in front of a TV. The next twenty minutes have stuck with me since late April, and it killed me knowing I would have to wait to play more. The time is now.
Furi is an interesting game to describe. It is a techno fueled, twin-stick, precision based, hack and slash, boss rush mental thriller, and it is so close to perfect you can taste it. Each level, you are met with a new adversary that you must overcome to get out of prison. When I say overcome, I literally mean it. Each fight has multiple waves, and with each wave, “a new Hell” as I described it. Each wave gets progressively harder and relies more on precise strikes and button presses. The interesting thing (I say this like the entire game isn’t fascinating, which it is) with the gameplay is that you start the game with the same skills you will end with.
No new skills, no level ups, no character progression. You are given a handful of attacks which can be used in a variety of ways. You have a parry which when used properly, will block the bosses swing, sometimes leaving an opening to strike. Along with this, with a successful parry you will heal a little of your health. Trust me, you will need it. The remaining attacks have a regular strike and a charged up strike, which will affect bosses differently. No twin-stick shooter would be complete without a gun, so of course you have your own projectile shooter. Along with the gun, you have a sword to swing, and the ability to dash around the stage. During a dash, you become invulnerable for a short time. That is it. You know the entirety of your attacks. While this may sound boring, it is fascinating seeing how your skills have to adapt to each new boss.
Speaking of bosses, no two are similar. With character designs by the famous Takashi Okazaki, creator of the Afro Samurai series, there are plenty of crazy characters to go around. For example, one boss may be a ground fighter that you must rely on swordplay and parrying, while the next is an expert of the skies and you must bring them down by shooting them first. It will constantly keep you on your toes and thinking how to beat the next section. Furi also has a practice mode, where you can go up against any of the bosses you have defeated and perfect your strategies. You will need it if you plan on blazing through the game to get all Achievements or Trophies. This is a game with the intention of catering to masochistic speedrunners.
Now that we have talked a little about the features, let’s get into the important question: “How good and responsive are the controls?” I did find myself, after having my hope broken multiple times, making stupid decisions and pressing wrong buttons out of frustration. But that is human error. In my opinion, the controls are flawless. They are simple to remember. The most important aspect is that they are extremely responsive, which is imperative in a game like this. The room for error of attacking or parrying is extremely small, so if there was a slight lag, the game wouldn’t work. Furi gets a gold star in this aspect
**Side Story** While playing through Furi, I hooked it up to some friends’ TV. I was having some major issues with getting the timing right. I just assumed I was having an off day. Then I remembered their TV had the slightest of lag that we discovered while playing Rock Band. I sat down in front of my laptop while they watched on the big screen and it was like a completely different game. I am saying it wasn’t noticeable to me, but it was so slight it essentially broke the game. That impressed me with how perfect they wanted you to play their game.
Stylistically, this game is gorgeous. There are a few bugs in some cutscenes, where hair starts flying out of control, or mouths don’t sync with the dialogue, but it is minimal. Unfortunately, for me that keeps Furi from getting a perfect score, but not by much. I can only describe the graphics as neon infused cell shaded. It is gorgeous and stands out very quickly. During fights, there are orbs that are thrown around, the colors pop from the dark backgrounds, and complements the brighter ones. There are times where it is borderline sensory overload with the amount of contrasting colors on the screen at once. I love it, but it may not be for everyone.
In the music department, there is a reason I am seriously contemplating ordering a $50 record that has all of the music on it. The soundtrack is an EDM lover’s wet dream. Filled with original creations by Carpenter Brut, Danger, The Toxic Avenger, Lorn, Scattle, Waveshaper, and Kn1ght, it is eargasmic. Each boss has their own fight theme, and that theme will evolve as the waves go on, keeping themes, but evolving and turning a tense fight into literally a nail biter with the mood change. Check out the bandcamp page here to hear a few of the songs.
Finally, the story. I won’t reveal anything due to emotional twists and turns, but I loved it. Each fight added more questions to the initial questions of what is going on. When the game starts, you know you are in prison, and you are trying to escape. That is it. In between the fights, there is no “fighting” gameplay, rather you must walk from one boss to the next. Yes, walk. At first I wasn’t too into slowly meandering to the next boss. Then I realized it is a genius tactic by The Game Bakers. They used travel as a storytelling device.
As you walk, your “guide” (I call him Crazy Bunny Man) fills in pieces of the story. The walking also serves as a “cool down” phase of the game, for you to relax and catch a breath. That may sound silly, but I felt emotionally drained after each fight. They are extremely difficult, and you will die at least once on your first play through more than likely. After each fight, I actually audibly exclaimed and felt relieved from a burden. This game actually invokes the most feelings of accomplishment I have ever felt in a game, at least recently. Not once did I sit stone faced after a fight. It becomes more than a video game fight, but a fight you become emotionally invested in. I had to take breaks from feeling emotionally fatigued. That never happens to me. The most interesting part of the walking mechanic is that it almost gave me a sense of dread after a while. You can see your arena before you get there, so your brain starts wondering what is going to happen, what is going to be revealed, what story is going to be told, and what story is going to be ended? It is literally fascinating.
I think Furi is a perfect game with just a slight graphical hiccup. The gameplay: great. The style: great. The music: great. The visuals: great. (other than the little issues mentioned) This game is like that report in school that on the rubric all 10s are circled, but there is that one 9, keeping you from that 100%. When I wasn’t playing, I was thinking about the boss I left off on. How to defeat them. What to do differently to win. The music is going to be put onto my phone because of how wonderful it is. Honestly, this game will probably never leave my computer, so that after I am done beating the hardest difficulty and completing the speedrun mode, I can just pop it up and show more friends how awesome it is. It is genuinely a masterpiece.