When it comes to skills based games I have to confess that I am no where near as good as I used to be. There was a time long ago where my much younger self used to effortlessly pick apart these sorts of games but these days the challenge mostly serves to remind me how much of me has been taken by age.
Furi tells the story of ‘The Stranger’ as he tries to battle free from a torturous imprisonment. Armed with a sword and gun, you need to fight your way through a series of opponents as you try to make sense of your past on your path to freedom. The story unravels as you travel between each of the individual arenas, with Furi’s answer to Jiminy Cricket known as the ‘The Voice’ steadily delivering the story in metaphorical snippets. The game graphically is a real treat, with a rather distinctive look and some fantastic looking environments. This is all supported with a really superb soundtrack that works well to compliment both the tranquil moments between fights and the high intensity combat during them.
The gameplay is all the fights, boss battles more specifically, each of which involves plenty of fast blocking and dodging to avoid a variety of ranged and close quarters combat until your opponent exposes their proverbial soft underbelly. Battles happen in phases, with each phase broken into 2 distinct stages. The first stage of combats sees you granted use of the entire arena, where you need to study your opponent to identify the points before, during and after an attack that the are vulnerable and as such time your movement and counter attack to hit them at fight time. The second stage limits you to a much smaller close quarters experience with the limited space further increasing the challenge. This is all about mastery of both your moves and perfectly timing their execution and the game will require your full attention should you wish to succeed. There are some nice mechanics, such as a well timed parry restoring a small portion of you health and in a specific fights some time based mechanics that effect that render your projectiles useless. But the game can be unforgiving with extremely small timing windows and a lot of subtle detail in the animation of you opponents to study and re-act to. The whole system is both refreshing but clumsy, where as an example I had some specific issues with attack sequences punishing you for failing to block or dodge the first attack and therefore not being able to avoid any other attacks in the sequence costing you a large chunk of you health bar and ultimately the fight. It’s infuriating, but can be fun if skill based challenges are your thing.
Everything comes together well, and as you progress each location and character convey a decent level of uniqueness although many of their attacks eventually become subtle variations of those found earlier in the game. The game does lack that final finesse, with the difficulty spiking sometimes quite widely most between the individual phases of a fight and a number of prevalent performance issues and bugs that occur. There are often minor issues with the camera, in some cases getting complete stuck, and also some issues that required me to quit and restart to progress. Nothing was totally game breaking, but they occur a little to frequently and often at a particularly critical moment. Normally this isn’t much to worry about, but since this game has been available on other platforms since July it’s sad to see that a lot of these have persisted through to this port almost half a year later.
But what I felt really cheated by is how the difficulty scale works. On the simplest difficulty you get the typical adjustments such as more health, more damage, relaxed timing, etc. But somewhat strangely the number of unique phases for each battle are cut in half and as such playing through on the easiest difficultly offers a severely censored experience. To some degree this shouldn’t really bother me, after all the developers intent I assume is to encourage and reward players for mastering it’s combat mechanics on the harder difficulties. But the reason it does is that I don’t have the time myself to really sit down and master a game like this as I would have in the past and as such my reward for just wanting to play is a watered down experience. Completing the game didn’t leave me with the sense of achievement I normally expect, but rather a somewhat bitter resentment that my time and effort wasn’t deemed worthy of the whole experience. This sentiment I felt was further reinforced by the fact that in game achievements are completely disabled on easy mode further cementing the lameness of my effort. I don’t like it when games take this approach, hiding content behind barriers that many players might not realistically be able to experience for many valid reasons and it has really tarnished my reflections on an otherwise decent game.
Overall, the gameplay was refreshing, intense and very challenging although it did start to show a lack of variety towards the end. The story, particularly the way it is presented to the user, was excellent and the styling and soundtrack all worked well to make the entire package distinctive. The rather frequent bugs and balance issues spoil the immersion, with the former always seeming to occur at the worst possible moment during combat costing you dearly. But as I alluded to earlier, ultimately a game has to reward a player and I’ve not been left with a feeling of achievement or accomplishment. Time is a really precious and limited resource for me with my adult life leaving me with precious little time to savour on gaming, hence for me I need games need to be accommodating within this constrained framework. Most games I play these day fit this model well, and are accessible to players of all skill levels. Furi by design wants to challenge the player, and it’s rewarding for those with the time and skills to those to beat it. But for me it requires more commitment than I am currently able to offer.
Furi was reviewed with a download code of the Xbox edition, provided by Xbox.