Furi PS4 Review - One of 2016's Strongest PS Plus Offerings

When it comes to the entertainment world, everything is defined by expectations. We constantly find ourselves in a vicious cicle of seeing a product, creating incredibly high expectations for it, and ultimately being disappointed. That's why most of the time, the experiences we had no expectations for are the ones that truly manage to amaze us. It had been such a long time since I had been genuinely surprised by a video game, but Furi managed to do it. Here's why:

In Furi, you control a man who's been locked in a hellish prison for what feels like an eternity. Suddenly, a mysterious (and creepy) partner with a rabbit mask appears and sets you free. In order to escape and go back to your world, you must fight a series of challenging bosses in this hack-and-slasher with very unique mechanics.

The first thing I want to talk about is the presentation. At first glance, they might seem simple. However, like many other aspects in this game, there is a level of complexity you simply won't catch in a Youtube video. Designer Takashi Okazaki (creator of Afro Samurai) is back, doing some of the best art he's ever done. Furi has a very distinct graphical vision, and it sticks to it from top to bottom. Character models and environments are varied, full of color, and they absolutely fit the style they were going for. Plus, voice acting is surprisingly strong all-around. Outside of the straightforward arenas you brawl in, the game has a lot of heart. Performance is also pretty damn good. Animations are fluid/crisp, and even as the fights reached their most intense moments, the frame rate remained steady. With that being said, the stars of the presentation are the bosses you are obliged to annihilate.

This game is very much a boss gauntlet. You kill one of them, then make your way to the next. However the amount of detail present in every boss battle makes them some of the most memorable enemies I've fought this year. Everything surrounding you gives you context on them. The way they look, the moves they make, the territory they inhabit, and their stage's level design. Each foe has a specific theme that captures your attention from beginning to end. Still, these guys aren't special solely on their looks. They also deliver unbelievably tense, fast-paced fights.

Then, we get to the gameplay, I have no negative things to say. It's a blast! As a whole, the mechanics are quite elementary: You can slash with your sword, shoot with your gun, dodge and parry. That’s about it. Nevertheless, the way these tools blend together is what makes this an original experience. As soon as you encounter a foe, you follow a similar procedure: you slowly learn their challenging patterns and after dodging or parrying an attack, you're allowed to counter. You can fire your laser gun in a top down shooter perspective, or you can engage in quick, melee brawls with your sword. While you can never do both at once, the way Furi smoothly transitions between the mechanics makes it feel like one complete section, instead of two separate ones.

Both you and your adversary have a limited number of lives. If you ever lose all your lives, you are forced to restart the encounter from the beginning. It might sounds like a piece of cake, but it's not. Every time a boss loses a life, they incorporate new attacks to their arsenal, therefore switching their patterns and timing. Meaning that even if you're one life away from finishing them, you might not understand their new move-set and/or timing fast enough, which eventually gets you killed and forces you to do it all again. When it happened, it was extremely frustrating. But I never blamed the game. My reflexes kept failing me. Regardless, as I progressed through Furi, I slowly began to recognize attacks in a better fashion. In similar fashion to other great video games, it's easy to learn but hard to master.

Like I previously stated, this is a boss rush game. This genre gets a lot of bad rep, as certain people believe it's a lazy way for developers to avoid telling a story. That is not the case here. Through its five-hour length, Furi manages to tell an abstract, yet interesting tale about escaping one's personal demons. The character never speaks, he just listens and kills. You don't really know if you're a wrongfully convicted hero, or a villain who deserves to rot in prison. Finding out who you really are was oddly fascinating. Also, the stunning soundtrack perfectly compliments the game.

My one negative comes with the way the narrative is presented. There are no cutscenes. You obviously can't progress the story while fighting for your life;so, following each battle, you take these extended walks in which your partner speaks to you. First off, whenever you take these walks, movement becomes clunky and annoying (tank controls). Nonetheless, you can press a button to auto-walk. The real issue is that you just slowly stroll through a location for minutes, while the camera occasionally switches angles. It feels dull and uninspired. Considering the type of game we're dealing with, I would have loved to view drawn cutscenes similar to the ones present in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. It would have added an extra level of emotion to every dialogue exchange.

Verdict: Unique, rewarding, and arguably too fun, Furi is one of the best games PS Plus has offered in 2016. If you're subscribed to the service, I highly recommend you giving this a chance.

The Good
- Intense, Fun Gameplay
- Captivating Art Style
- Short and Sweet
- Memorable Bosses
- Abstract, Interesting Narrative

The Bad
- Uninspired Storytelling
- Arenas Could Be Better

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