‘Furi’ is good thanks to some not-so-horrible bosses
“Furi” has all the trappings of a Japanese-inspired mythical tale.
At its center is a powerful, mysterious hero accompanied by a character offering wisdom as the hero combats several powerful enemies – sort of like the trials of Hercules. Set against a beautifully-designed ethereal world popping with color and vibrancy, it’s evocative and dreamlike.
But many of “Furi’s” ideas are a bit too obtuse for its own good.
The intriguing story is so vague it turns into little more than artful writing about distant unrelated characters to whom the player has no attachment. Its objective is simple: escape a prison by defeating several boss characters. Then walk out the door.
But to what? Why do I want to leave? How did I get there in the first place? And who exactly is this bizarre character wearing a rabbit’s mask like an off-brand Deadmau5? It’s never really made clear, and as much as I enjoy the atmosphere of it, knowing so little about this world and story causes the game’s focus to shift solely to its boss battles, for better and for worse.
The game’s combat is built on trial and error. There are no other enemies in between fights; no cannon fodder, no collectibles or secrets to find. It’s merely the player, the mysterious Donnie Darko-like rabbit man following alongside, and eight powerful bosses holding grudges against a silent protagonist.
It takes a punch-out-style approach to combat, with nothing but one-on-one boss fights throughout the course of its four- to five-hour-long campaign.
Because it features nothing but boss fights, “Furi” is difficult by design. Bosses have multiple lives that must be completely depleted in order to triumph, and many of their attacks require precise, intricate movements to both minimize damage and capitalize on weak points. But there’s an unwelcome edge to Furi, a roughness that occasionally causes the game to oscillate from balanced and challenging to imbalanced and messy.
A long walk
Once a boss has been defeated, the silent protagonist makes his way down a long stretch of land or a corridor toward the next enemy lying in wait. These long stretches are meant to build tension. But instead, their plodding pace serves as a vehicle for Rabbit Man’s random mutterings and a lesson in tedious game design.
There are no enemies, no other characters in the game aside from these ten.
Again, I understand why. These stretches were to allow me to reflect on the previous battle and work toward improving my performance so I wouldn’t be immediately zapped by the next boss.
But walking in a video game is laughably dull, and having enemies to populate the spaces in between would not only provide an opportunity for players to hone their combat skills (especially because there are barely any upgrades as-is), but also give the creators a chance to hone and craft a more meaningful world and give the player a little more necessary context.
And yet ...
“Furi” is good. Its fighting may occasionally lean on luck over skill, but learning boss’ attack patterns and finally defeating them is a sweet sensation. It’s beautiful to look at, has a pulsing, driving score underlying all of its action, and incorporates ideas of mythology wonderfully into a neat package.
It’s unfortunate there’s little more to its seemingly robust world than occasional interactions and long, contemplative walks in between fights, because a more built-up lore surrounding its characters would have helped make it into something to be remembered.