Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Platform: PC (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: July 5th, 2016 (PC/PS4) December 2, 2016 (Xbox One)
MSRP: $24.99 (Review Copy Received)
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.
The love child of Afro Samurai creator Takashi Ozaka and an acid induced EDM trip known as Furi is quite unique in a landscape of neo-realism.
While Takashi Ozaka has captivated audiences since 1999 with his unique dōjinshi manga art style, which has been proven to be highly adaptable to fast pace animation, one has to ask, can it be adapted to a game?
Out of the gate, Furi looks amazing. It lives up to it creator’s unique art style, and is completely unapologetic about it as well. A blast of vibrant colors will assault the players senses as we are introduced to the world of Furi.
One of the more interesting aspects of the game’s art, world design, and character design is just how much it can change in each level, while keeping the same core gameplay mechanics intact.
Every level feels unique and well thought out, which is more important than most would initially realize when just glancing at the game, as much of the story is told through the environment, but we will get to that bit later.
Furi’s character design is one of the most interesting I have personally seen in the last 10 years of videogames. The design not only affects story but gameplay as well. Character tells in battle, interaction with the environment, and their own equipment tell the player what to expect with each fight.
The majority of the gameplay consists of intense fights against a single opponent, which teach the player about the gameplay mechanics they should expect to come from each boss fight.
After each successful round completion, the mechanics become more complex, adding on to the existing mechanics that feels natural. But let me stress that natural does not mean easy.
This is a natural progression that takes the game’s mechanics to its logical extent, which can be unforgiving. The last section of the boss fight will throw the player into the heart of a bullet hell shooter, which is visually more intimidating than it is difficult, and tends to be easier in contrast to the rest of the boss fight.
The game’s difficulty after the first level can feel like a punch to the face, making each level completion a true triumph. This will throw a lot of players off, and really prevents the game from being something everyone can enjoy playing, serving as let’s play fodder for the general public.
This is not necessarily bad, as we stated above, the game looks visually amazing, with a soundtrack to match, but this does limit the scope of who can actually play and enjoy the game.
Speaking of soundtracks, holy hell is this one of the most amazing and well done soundtracks in video game history. The roster of artist who have contributed to the list features Carpenter Brut, Danger, The Toxic Avenger, Lorn, Scattle, Waveshaper, and Kn1ght. That is an impressive list of talent packed into one game, you can even get the soundtrack on vinyl if you are an audiophile.
In general the sound design of the game has a good weight within the world, be it weapon fire or the swing of a sword. The only issue in the sound department is the lack of dialog, which is directly related to the story and exposition being extremely lite.
The dialog tends to be cryptic but well placed, but for those not looking for or unfamiliar with this style of storytelling in which most of the details are laid out in the visuals of the world and character constructs, the dialog can come off as lackluster or even tacky.
Most stories in video games tend to be built around or involve a “level” and “boss fight” design, as it is the easiest way for creators to design and write the “hero’s journey”, which is the most common narrative trope currently in popular culture and is relatable to almost everyone.
Furi turns this on its head by merging the two, completely changing the way the story unfolds in front of the player. But by doing so, also makes the story relatable to a much narrower audience, leaving the story to be more of a subjective judgment of art rather than something we can sit in front of us and examine as a good or bad. This has the added downside of making the story subjectively meaningless, which will hinder many players’ enjoyment of the game at its core.
Furi is a whirlwind of amazing art and music, mixed with brutal gameplay that will not be enjoyable or accessible to most gamers when it comes to directly playing the game. For those who are skilled enough to take on the challenge, the game will be immensely rewarding.
Furi was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a digital copy provided by The Game Bakers. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 7.8
- Takashi Ozaka’s visuals bring a breath of fresh air to the gaming landscape.
- You will be hard pressed to find a soundtrack with this level of consistent quality made by so many talented artists.
- A true challenge that can be extremely rewarding if mastered.
- The gameplay is a double edge sword and will turn off many players as being “too hard” for them.
- Story is extremely lite in a practical sense, leaving players wanting.