Initial Release: 11 January 2018
Furi is undoubtedly brutal. It’s also incredibly rewarding, addictive as hell and demands a level of player skill not often seen these days. Like Blade Runner mixed with Punch Out with a little bit of Dark Souls, Furi taunts and dares the player to beat it. There are few game mechanics here, but you’ll have all the tools you need to best the game’s formidable prison guards from the get-go.
Despite Furi being free on Playstation Plus back in 2016, I totally slept on it. Whether it was because I was busy, had other things to play I’m not sure, but I do recall being intrigued by its tough as nails combat and si-fi visuals. Thankfully then, Furi has finally made its way to Nintendo Switch bringing with it the same boss-battling experience as well as the previously released DLC. I am happy to report that I really was a fool to miss out on Furi the first time around as my time with it has been the most rewarding experiences I’ve had yet on Nintendo Switch.
Furi tells a simple but compelling prison break story of an incredibly powerful warrior who must defeat a series of prison guards to earn his freedom. From the outset, Furi establishes the uphill battle which the player faces. The first boss is a tutorial of sorts, but a formidable one at that. What is most apparent from the get go is just how despised and feared the protagonist is. Over the course of my initial 4 hour playthrough I frequently questioned my place in the world and whether the fight I was embarking on was a noble one.
Furi is an interesting mix of hack and slash, twin-stick shooter and bullet-hell. Each of these three mechanics are polished to a fine sheen, granting the player an impressive level of control. And that’s a good thing because this game is not for the faint-hearted. Furi is a game which begs, dares the player to master it, to learn it completely as anything less will result in failure. Each of the half dozen or so bosses have their own attack patterns, special moves and personalities. A parry mechanic is the only Achilles heel shared by all of them, allowing the player to either block, gain back some health, or trigger a special move. Mastery of the parry is paramount and learning exactly when to opt for health or to inflict damage gives Furi a tactical element. You can also dodge, which comes with its own benefits and weaknesses. Dodging allows you to warp through bullets and other attacks and its use in tangent with the parry make up the majority of each encounter. The twin-stick shooting is a little less refined. Partly due to the nature of the Joy-con’s analog sticks, the shooting feels imprecise and messy. Not only that but there is also a power-shot mechanic which is completely underutilised. I also found the bullet-hell sections to be a little cheap given how strongly the rest of the game focuses on player-skill.
The move to Nintendo Switch also brings a few frame rate issues with it too. I encountered these dips in frame rate exclusively while in handheld mode and they were minor but in a game as frantic and brutal as this, they lead to a few forced deaths which I was less than happy about. Other than these issues, Furi looks as good as it has ever been on the Switch. There is a slight graphical downgrade, sure, but the vibrant landscapes still steal the show during the quiet moments between battles.
What did surprise me about Furi was the depth of the narrative. I won’t spoil things here but there is a twist towards the end of the game and one of the most memorable end-credits scenes in any game I’ve played. Each boss feels distinct and unique. One is a sort of mutant sewer monster while another is a Gwenpool-esque wisecracking teen. One battle in particular stood out to me due to its focus on melee combat and perspective shift part way through the fight. Dying over and over again never feels frustrating as you know exactly where you went wrong ever time. Learning enemy patterns and attack patterns is part of the charm of Furi and is what kept a smile on my face right up until the end of my first playthrough. Furi is a game which encourages multiple playthroughs. There are three difficulty types ranging from hard to completely insane, each with their own tweaks in gameplay. I finished my first run in around 4 hours before moving onto the hardest difficulty. I am currently 2 bosses and 4 hours in and getting my ass handed to me time and time again. I’m not sure whether I will ever best the Furier mode but I have yet to have a day where I don’t at least give it a try. The handheld nature really complements this one more try design. There’s also the One More Fight DLC which pits the player against a roided out cyborg. It is appropriately challenging and blends several elements from base-game fights.
Furi is undoubtedly brutal. It’s also incredibly rewarding, addictive as hell and demands a level of player skill not often seen these days. Like Blade Runner mixed with Punch Out with a little bit of Dark Souls, Furi taunts and dares the player to beat it. There are few game mechanics here, but you’ll have all the tools you need to best the game’s formidable prison guards from the get-go. Its arrival on Switch is dragged down somewhat by the hardware but the feeling of finally beating a boss while on your daily commute is truly a thing of beauty.
Verdict: 8 Out of 10
We were provided a copy of the game by The Game Bakers for review purposes