A Warrior’s Tale
I’m a huge fan of classic samurai tales and Japanese mythology. On that premise alone, Furi had me intrigued from the start, featuring a samurai locked up in a fictional prison with a guy in a rabbit mask. Once I began playing the game, I was further enamored by it’s combination of bullet hell and tough combat. It comes together in a package that’s worth a shot.
The game has been out on other platforms for a while, but at $19.99 on the Nintendo Switch, is this new action port a worth entry on a handheld?
Show Don’t Tell
There’s a rule among storytellers called “show don’t tell.” In terms of how Furi tells its story, this is where it falls short. All of the interesting tidbits are given through exposition in cutscenes that drone on for too long. When it comes time for a shocking revelation, it’s undercut by the fact that someone is just talking about it. It’s especially unfortunate when you consider the interesting tale Furi so desperately wants to tell.
You take the role of Ryder, who is locked up in the most elaborate prison in the universe. Once the Voice, a mysterious man in a rabbit mask, frees you, you must then kill your jailer and escape the prison. This is where Furi really hits its stride.
In the place of a tutorial, you’re thrust into an over-the-top anime-inspired battle against the sinister jailer with three faces. You quickly learn that these types of anime boss battles are all you’ll be doing in Furi. Thankfully, the developers knew exactly how to manage this concept well and created a diverse roster of bosses who are memorable for their designs and combat techniques.
To be clear, Furi boasts one of the best character designs I’ve seen in a long time. Each cast member feels distinct in both appearance and personality. It was always a treat to see which person I was going to fight next.
Each boss battle in Furi has several phases that you must fight through. They each get progressively harder, further testing your skills. Where it gets truly intense is how they bounce back and forth between bullet hell segments that use up the entire arena and close-up duels that force you to parry and strike. This combination could’ve easily felt jarring, but it’s managed extremely well in Furi.
To fight the bosses, you are equipped with a gun, a sword, a dodge, and a parry. In order to beat Furi, you must learn how to use each of this abilities in tandem with one another. True mastery of these skills will result in phenomenal victories that keep you coming back for more.
That said, Furi is not an easy game. Your eyes will have to stay glued to the screen, watching your opponent’s attacks so that you know how to respond. You’ll need quick reflexes if you’re going to survive. On that note, the difficulty level in Furi is mostly fair. You have three health bars before you die. If you lose one, then you have to start the current boss phase over again. Lose all three, and you have to fight the boss all over again.
However, there are buffers in place to prevent the game from feeling too unfair. As you beat each phase, you will gain a health bar back. Then, when you successfully parry an attack, you will gain a little bit of health back as well. Needless to say, those who figure out how to parry can last quite a long time.
That said, it’s worth noting that some boss battles drag on a bit too long and feel a little too overpowered at times. I managed to beat them on subsequent tries, but it wasn’t always a fun experience.
Being a port on the Nintendo Switch, it’s worth noting that Furi doesn’t always run smoothly. I experienced a bit of frame rate dips in gameplay (especially when there was a lot happening on screen). There were also a few instances in the cutscenes where it would stutter. It’s not game breaking, but the game definitely runs better on other platforms.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Furi was provided by ICO Partners.