Furi is everything I could ask for in a pocket-sized boss rush. It’s challenging, dynamic, beautiful in both audio and visual facets, and most importantly, challenging; there’s no fluff to be found. That matters a lot especially when you’re on the go. Having had Furi in my backpack the past couple of days has turned free time into a challenging experience that I’ll remember, despite wanting to throw my Switch occasionally.
Furi opens up on a caged blaster-toting samurai and a magical bunny. You, as this white-haired-katana-wielding badass, are broken free of your bonds and must kill those who seek to imprison you. That rabbit, otherwise known as The Voice, provides you with exposition in-between each fight. Slaying each of the jailors earns you access to a new level and more of the mysterious plot. I was immediately invested in the dueling action between my enemies just as much as I was with the game’s story. This symbiotic relationship between action and plot makes Furi one of the best games I’ve played lately.
The controls don’t take very long to get used to either: there are four options. Strike with your katana, shoot with your blaster, dodge, or parry. But it’s these four simple tenants that are distorted throughout each of the bosses, each requiring more and more skill and mastery of these options to advance. Parrying, for example, seems frustrating at first as missing the timing can leave you open to an enemies combos. However, later on, the health that is regenerated by a parry becomes so attractive that you are forced to be able to execute them flawlessly. Because of this, each duel builds a distinct rhythm. That rhythm is halted if you are struck down three times in a row.
I was astounded at what the developers were able to do with these four attacks in each fight that would go on to make the bosses so memorable. One fight found me diving between cover and picking my shots while the very next required much more trigger discipline. One boss, in particular, was a menace up close and got quite a few jump scares out of me too.
All of these frantic moments and emotions are backlit by beautiful 80’s-sounding synth beats akin to the soundtrack of Ryan Gosling’s Drive. It’s a score that excites you as you play and keeps up the energy during boss fights, and during the narrative-driven segments between fights, helps remind the player of the dramatic tones.
The boss fights in Furi are fun because they are challenging, but the game does well to prevent players getting frustrated by these tough bosses. You’re allowed to die three times per boss fight. However, you regain one life after successfully pushing the boss through a phase (knocking their health to zero). This means that even though I died from crazy unforeseen mechanics, I was able to learn from my mistakes and adapt so that I could take on the boss again without having to start from the beginning. This tug of war was remarkably rewarding in the way that it made me feel as though I needed to earn victory rather than just execute all my attacks correctly. You almost need to lose a life here or there to learn how best to approach each enemy. The gameplay was kept interesting and entertaining throughout, with every boss fight feeling fresh and none of them feeling like repeats.
If you thought the silent protagonist wouldn’t provide a worthwhile story, you’d be wrong. There are multiple endings with different bosses and a late-game reveal which sent me reeling. Every minute spent playing Furi was worthwhile, and that’s especially important when I was playing during my commute.
Bringing Furi to the Nintendo Switch seems like a no-brainer as most indie games flourish there, but some were hesitant to believe the game could run at a stable framerate on the handheld-console hybrid. Luckily, it’s a non-issue. The Switch handles the game swell, with no noticeable drops in framerate throughout my playtime. The game’s anime-esque graphics also lend themselves to a lower resolution, so that wasn’t a problem anyway.
Coming in at just around six hours to beat all of the game’s bosses, I felt as though $20 was a steal. You can get similarly priced games that take longer, sure, but rarely will a game keep you engaged through every minute. Whenever I found a window to play this game I was and in with all the other titles currently on the Switch that means something.
While I found playing with a Pro controller to be remarkably more comfortable, Nintendo’s Joy-Con were able to carry me through in a pinch when I wasn’t able to dock. The game does just as well on other consoles, but the ability to play the neatly packaged boss-rush on the go is, to me, too attractive an option and the definitive choice to those who have never played it before.
Furi is sure to make your adrenaline rise at least once, with formidable bosses and a fantastic story, each moment of the game — whether it be narrative or combat — drives you towards the ending of the game that you choose. You don’t need to be a dueling master — failing in Furi is part of the fun as each lost life means that you’re one step closer to understanding the mechanics and therefore one step closer to victory. Simply put, if you can get past the difficulty and see the beauty behind it, you’re sure to have a blast with this game and especially on the Nintendo Switch.