“Breaker Of Chains”
Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Format: PC, PS4 (reviewed)
Released: July 5, 2016
If not for constantly getting in the way of itself, the trippy new project from The Game Bakers may have had a shot at greatness. Furi is a mechanically competent, visually unpolished, and narratively incoherent venture, carrying ambitious ideas on its shoulders with occasionally promising execution. Unfortunately, The Game Bakers’ stylistic bullet hell, mixed with sword fighter, suffers from poor writing and structure that fails to take the game anywhere of consequence. Instead, Furi feels like it spins its wheels, plotting where to steer the story next, ultimately procrastinating until the credits roll. It’s an empty game, ironically teeming with a methodology built on style, both in its music and art. However, for as strong as a tonal personality Furi leans on, it’s not enough to justifiably waive the frequently imbalanced gameplay or nonsensical tale it attempts to tell.Furi is the type of game that won’t have trouble weaving its way into the hearts of a niche group of fans. It has the makings to develop a cult following, drawn out by the stilted, yet mysteriously presented storytelling and intriguing world design. At times, Furi shows progress toward achieving something exciting, mixing an evocative mood with mechanical intensity, coming close to forming a unique trek for revenge. Assuming the role of an unnamed swordsman recently escaped from captivity, you’ll travel throughout a dreamlike world looking for an exit. Standing in your way of long-sought freedom are an array of bosses to face in combat, known as Jailers. Moving from one challenging adversary to another, Furi is made up almost solely of boss encounters, with the exception of cinematic sections where you control the hero as he strolls about the land in search of his next battle. In these moments of solace, Furi impresses, outshining its gameplay and trite story. The whole ordeal is simplistic when boiled down, embodying a straightforward vision that remains dedicated to its central goals, beginning to end. The perplexing and sometimes frustrating nature of Furi’s various core elements, inevitably inflict more slashes on itself, than its array of daunting bosses.
FURI IS A STYLISTIC MELD OF FANTASTIC IDEAS WITH MEDIOCRE EXECUTION
In terms of gameplay, Furi feels solid and satisfying when things come together. Strongest when mixing flashy twin stick shooting with melee combat in the heat of a tense battle, Furi occasionally generates memorable moments. Mostly appearing when chaining together a series of powerful attacks, or gracefully dodging a bullet hell portion of a boss’s evolution, fervent adversarial encounters weren’t in short supply.
Elevating each of these battles was the fantastic soundtrack surging contagious energy throughout the undertaking to bring down the next Jailer. Fresh, electronic beats considerably heightened the rush, as well as investment dedicated to the frantic, often overwhelming combat. Without a doubt the most presentationally consistent and well-orchestrated aspect of the package, Furi wisely blends music with distinct visual style and emphasis on action. It’s one of the few positive traits the title confidently upholds, standing tall even when the rest of the experience begins to reveal substantial cracks. Furi’s primary downfall is the overall structure, an unfortunate place to reside, considering how much of the game depends on it to maintain momentum. Gameplay, narrative, and pace, all suffer due to the formalities of Furi’s straightforward, yet frequently harmful structural rhythm. Battles almost always lost their luster as the fight raged on, annoyingly upping the challenge of the select foe the closer you got to victory–in turn unsavorily extracting the enjoyment of the encounter almost entirely.
This frequent display of unevenness within the heat of a confrontation, matched with the polarizing pompousness of the preachy storytelling, gave Furi an overall unapproachable vibe that pushed me further and further away the longer it went on. It’s blatantly visible just how much of a narrative statement wants to shine through here, though awful dialogue and painfully predictable turns prevent Furi from making even the slightest of points.Conclusion: Furi is chasing an experience greater than itself. Admirable of ambition alone, The Game Bakers’ newest project may be notably rough around the edges, but it isn’t without impressive elements. Complimented nicely by a robust soundtrack and cinematic flare, even Furi’s more underwhelming moments were respectably stated with a firm dedication to tone. This maintained sense of vision–while sometimes obnoxious–elevates Furi higher than it would if simply riding on gameplay and narrative to sell the package. Mechanically, Furi doesn’t necessarily struggle, holding up just fine when the sword leaves its sheath. What kills the enjoyment from playing, is the poorly managed ramping difficulty apparent in nearly every boss encounter. Draining the cadence of combat, time and time again, the frustrating pace of most battles pushed me over the edge—a continual revelation far more impactful on the harder difficulties. At its best, Furi brings to the table high-octane action and a pulsating vibe consistent to its mood. Yet the noticeable lack of polish surrounding the project’s stronger aspects, considerably undermine their accomplishments. Constant screen tearing and infrequent, yet invasive framerate drops add to Furi’s shortcomings, chipping away its stylistic coat. Slowly, but surely, these flaws manifest into more than just minor annoyances, joining the title’s offensively poor dialogue, unrefined difficulty, and frustratingly disjointed take on storytelling. For a game centered around striking blows on your enemies, Furi struggles to stick the hits of its own, necessary to amount to anything special.
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