Warning: Anyone with a history of epilepsy should be incredibly careful when playing this game.
Furi is a a boss rush, hack 'n slash, bullet hell game produced by the team Game Bakers. In it, you play as the Stranger who is woken up while in prison by the mysterious character, The Voice. From here, he must fight through a series of bosses in order to earn his freedom. There are no generic enemies in this game. Only the player and the Jailers preventing him from being free.
Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Platform: PC, PS4
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
MSRP: $24.99 via Steam, $25.92 via PS4 (Review Copy Received)
Furi is a very bright and colorful game despite the grim nature of the premise. The characters and environment quite literally glow. Having bullet hell elements, there are many flashing projectiles that are sent toward the player throughout the battles. The game was designed by Takashi Okazaki of Afro Samurai fame which certainly shows in the distinctive designs of all the characters. No two characters look the same as well as no two environments looking the same. The environments emphasize the characters within them and have character in and of themselves. The Jailers never feel out of place in their level.
The in-game art skirts the line between realistic and anime inspired, which only makes sense. The graphics might not be photo realistic, but they're clean and pleasant to look at. They also present the game in a method that is not overwhelming as some more realistic looking games are and certainly won't cause motion sickness. Everything visually flows together.
The gameplay of the game is quite simple. Shoot, slash, dash and block. Shooting, slashing and dashing can all be charged. The player gains no new abilities over the course if the game. The game does not become easier nor does the Stranger become more powerful. The player gets better. By charging his slash, the Stranger can stun the opponent. Charging shots causes larger and more damaging bullets to be released. Charging the dash causes him to dash further. By blocking at just the right moment, the player can "perfect parry" allowing them to initiate a counter attack. Blocking also recovers a bit of health.
The combat alternates between two modes: shooting and melee. Throughout most of the fight, the player must reduce the opponent's health by shooting and slashing them. Once their health is dropped, the player can enter melee mode and must reduce the opponent's life bar again in order to advance to the next phase of the battle. Dying means starting all over again. Here, the bosses become distinctive even moreso. Some bosses lack a shooter mode while others will not enter melee mode for most of the battle regardless of how much damage they take. No two bosses will ever feel the same which makes the game far more memorable. After doing the fights continuously, they can easily become frustrating.
The combat is tight and smooth. It will certainly test any player's patience, endurance and reflexes.
The soundtrack contains the talents of Carpenter Brut, Danger, The Toxic Avenger, Lorn, Scattle, Waveshaper and Kn1ght. This talent creates an excellent atmosphere for the game. The songs never feel repetitive and easily fade into the background. I found myself listening to these songs when not playing the game by choice rather than doing it because the song was stuck in my head.
The game's voice acting and sound effects are top notch. The voices were well rehearsed and fit the characters well. The game comes with three dubs, English, French and Japanese, so if one doesn't sound appealing, the player can simply switch to another.
The game announces attacks and changes of tactics with sounds. Whenever an enemy makes a melee attack, a sound effect similar to two swords clashing is heard. Walls of energy and bullets make different noises when released so, even if the player is looking elsewhere on the screen, they can predict their next course of action.
The story may be hit or miss for some. The story can come off as an excuse plot for some as there is very little to see or experience. Most of the characters are not complex or deep in any meaningful way. Some are far more interesting than others. The Jailers do not develop and, at times, the Stranger feels too mysterious to really feel for. The ending expands the world significantly, but to explain it would be a massive spoiler. For those who do get involved in the story, it's very black or white; love it or hate it. For most, they might forget there's a story even there.
While the game has much going for it, it is not without its flaws. It is quite glitch-y at times. I had one experience while fighting the Burst in which, after reviving from a KO, she refused to reappear even after self KO-ing one more time. There are other times in which Jailers would repeat themselves before a scene continued. There were other times where estimating the hitbox of a projectile was difficult leading to damage that could have easily been avoided.
Overall, despite a game breaking bug and some frustrating fights, the game is well made. It's beautiful, it's fun, the music is great and it's simple. For the month of July, the game will be complimentary for any PS+ members.