Furi is a game with immediate appeal. Just from screenshots, anyone can see that a lot of time and effort has been put into making it an extremely stylistic and beautiful game. The neon light aesthetic makes battle scenes pop with color and makes the player feel as if they are fighting in a cyberpunk future. The characters are unique as well no one boss looks the same and their move-sets differ along with them giving each boss encounter a particular ambiance. The player character also stands out with his long white hair and colorful neon-streaked outfit, not to mention he is a ninja who is adept with both swords and guns. Needless to say, the game is “cool”. However, a game cannot stand on its aesthetic alone and must also balance this with solid gameplay to truly stand out. Furi does this for the most part with some minor annoyances along the way.
The core gameplay of Furi is essentially a boss rush mode with sections in between that require minor platforming to get from one arena to the next. Each boss fight is a multi-arena affair with victory in one arena sending the boss fleeing to the next. Fights begin with a bullet hell type sequences that will test the player’s reflexes. The camera is placed overhead giving the player a view of the entire arena. The boss then begins hurling a volley of various projectiles. The types of projectiles vary between bosses as some send standard bullets orbs while other fire off beams of lights that must be blocked by the environment. Others send shockwaves that will test the player’s ability to use the dash mechanic that gives the player a small number of invincibility frames. Dealing with the onslaught of attacks as well as dealing damage is a rewarding balancing act. During the bullet hell moments, the player can either fire bullets of their own at the boss or if they are skilled and daring enough, attempt to get in close and do some hacking and slashing which does heavier damage than shooting but at the cost of leaving themselves vulnerable. Once enough damage is done an orange circle appears over the bosses head signaling the player to initiate the final phase of that particular arena.
This phase is where Furi truly stands out amongst its peers. The camera swoops in and frames the fighters as one would in an old samurai film. A small circle then surrounds the two and the clash of blades begins. During this fight, the player can no longer use their gun and must solely rely on their skills with a blade. This duel is not simply a hack and slash affair but instead requires quick dodges and most importantly precisely timed parries. The bosses are relentless but with patience and skill, the player will deal enough damage to send the enemy flying into the next arena where the where the rain of gunfire will fall again. The further the player gets in the game the better they will become at these duels and once they have honed their skills enough to reach the final stages of the game it is near impossible to not feel like a true cyberpunk ninja.
The unfortunate part of Furi is the immediate drop off from the high pace action to the hair-pulling moments that populate the sections in between arenas. Once the player sends the boss flying to the next arena they themselves must get there as well. These sections always find a way to be more frustrating than fun. The fast-paced movement and dashes are perfect when it comes to dodging a hail of bullets but when put into a platforming setting it doesn’t do the game any favors. The player will most likely find themselves grimacing every-time they are faced with these sections.
Furi also isn’t afraid to pose a challenge. No one boss will be a pushover even for the most avid of players. Each boss has the potential to completely trounce the player. And with the mechanics completely changing from arena to arena it will take multiple tries and serious pattern recognition to come out on top. These aspects combined with the fact that if the player loses three lives they have to start the boss completely over from the first area makes this game a nightmare to some and a godsend for others seeking a serious challenge.
With an eye-popping art style and a fun and addicting gameplay loop of frenetic bullet hell to visceral close quarters combat Furi sets itself apart from its contemporaries. However frustrating and monotonous sections combined with a challenge that can sometimes feel unfair hold Furi back from truly being something special.