Giving this game the name Furi is a bit like calling Super Mario Odyssey 'Joi' or Resident Evil Revelations 'Fier'. Make no mistake, the emotion most people will come to associate with Furi is cold, hard fury. If you have the patience of a saint and/or a healthy streak of stubbornness, however, there's quite a lot to enjoy here.
Boiling Furi down to a single sentence does it few favours. It's essentially a series of brutal boss fights strung together by walking simulator-like narrative sections. Which, we're sure you'll agree, sounds pretty terrible. The boss fights here are of the best possible variety, though. They're not about avoiding cheap insta-kill attacks or clunky gimmicks, but rather careful pattern recognition and the consistent application of a clear set of techniques.
Success in Furi rests upon your mastery of a solid, multifaceted set of controls. Our mysterious protagonist, who busts out of a high-tech jail at the outset, is a dab hand with both a samurai sword (assigned to Y) and a laser blaster (the right stick). Both can be charged for a more powerful attack at the expense of manoeuvrability.
More important to your chances of success are your defensive options. Pressing and releasing the B button (or the left shoulder buttons) initiates an instant dodge in the direction you're moving, which also enables you to pass through enemy attacks. Just as important to master is parrying, which is assigned to the A button. Hit this at precisely the right time and you'll deflect energy bolts or turn away melee attacks, often leaving your opponent vulnerable to a damaging counter in the process.
A large part of the appeal here is how dynamic and varied most of the boss fights are. Each daunting opponent offers several distinct stages to their assault, dipping into bullet hell shmup territory one minute and brutal cut-and-thrust beat-'em-up territory the next. The bosses themselves are wonderfully imaginative, too. We won't spoil them here, suffice to say that the first two fights alone would stand well as final encounters in many other games. That's not just down to their level of difficulty, either. The Game Bakers has excelled itself in creating a real sense of gravitas to each encounter, with the kind of epically foreboding atmosphere you might find in a decent anime series.
Indeed, there's genuine anime talent behind the game's lavish visual style. Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki is responsible for the character design, which totally figures. The whole set-up of a laconic samurai with an enigmatic, possibly imaginary friend will be very familiar to fans of Okazaki's work.
As with any game that forces you to fail and repeat multiple times, Furi won't be for everyone. There's plenty of frustration here, and not all of it can be waved away as part of the experience. The third fight, in particular, soon becomes a boring grind as you trudge through its overly lengthy sections to get back to the bit that snagged you. Your experience may vary, but this is a game with a dozen such blockages that will potentially turn away less motivated gamers. We've said it before, but you really need to have a certain bloody mindedness about you to really get the most out of Furi.
You may require a similar level of patience during the story sections as for the main action sequences. Furi gives you nominal control as you wander through each dreamscape towards the next encounter, but our moody hero seems to be in no hurry. It's telling that there's an auto-walk button, reflecting the drawn-out and non-interactive nature of these interstitial areas.
Furi's difficulty options could benefit from a little more nuance too. As it stands you can bump the difficulty down from the default level when you fail, but this fundamentally hobbles the game and strips out the reward system. If you do persist, though, you'll find a unique boss rush game that genuinely rewards a diligent approach. Furi is full of tiny moments of triumph as you figure out a winning technique to sail through a formerly daunting section. Just know that there'll be plenty of rage along the way - both on and off the screen.
Furi's series of dauntingly challenging boss fights are capable of turning all but the most committed of players into a gibbering wreck. It's a deceptively clever game that combines shooter and beat-'em-up mechanics, all wrapped up in a stylish anime-influenced shell. It's not for everyone, with numerous difficulty spikes and an over-reliance on repetition. But it's refreshing to see a game rewards patient observation and persistence, as well as mastery of a carefully calibrated control system.