E3 2016: Furi combines twin-stick shooting and hack-‘n-slash action in a stylish series of boss battles

Boss fights can either be a high or low point in videogames. A really good fight is tough to create, a series of them even more so. Furi, a game that’s nothing but a series of boss fights from The Game Bakers, seems to understand the qualities that make a good boss battle work. The E3 demo I got to see showcased its first two bosses (though I only got to fight the first) and it looks promising.

The demo opened with the protagonist being tortured by his captor, a rather burly looking man with masks adorning the front and sides of his face. Soon after, a man wearing a purple rabbit hat arrives and frees the protagonist from his shackles. He promises to help our hero secure his freedom. Why he decided to help or who the protagonist even is and why he’s held captive remain a mystery. For now, getting some payback is all that matters.

Just outside the cave where our protagonist was imprisoned waits the multi-masked man, weapon drawn and ready to fight. The battle starts as a ranged affair. He fires off orbs he conjures from thin air and I use a pistol. The camera assumes an isometric perspective during this phase, granting a wide view of the arena. Furi plays like a standard twin-stick shooter here. You move through increasingly complex streams of projectiles avoiding damage while whittling away at your opponent’s health. Just unloading into him is effective, but you can also fire off a charged shot to knock him off balance, should the opportunity arise.

Eventually I took off one block of his health, prompting him to switch to close-quarters combat. My character switches to his sword while the masked man draws his staff. The action slows down slightly, as both combatants start slowly walking around each other instead of dashing around like in the last phase of the fight. I try attacking, but my opponent blocks every strike. Trying to get behind him doesn’t work either. I’m told I need to parry, so I switch to defense and wait for an opening. The game feels a touch more technical here. It’s still fast, but there’s a deliberate pace to it. Furi doesn’t feel like a button mashy game, even though it looks like one given the speed of the action.

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The rest of the battle swaps between those two modes of attack, each new phase becoming more challenging. Moving between shooting and swordplay is seamless and a big part of what makes the action of Furi sing once the battle stops restricting those modes to individual stages of the fight. Dashing in for a few quick sword strikes then backing off to follow-up with some gunfire is easy to pull off and looks stylish to boot.

After the boss was defeated, the long walk to my next opponent began. I stepped through a portal and ended up just outside a large dome pulsing with electricity. Another prisoner lies locked within, according to the rabbit-masked fellow, another obstacle that stand between you two and freedom. The walk to the next boss is filled by the rabbit guy pontificating about their situation, what being locked up for long and tortured does to a person. It’s a welcome bit of respite after the long fight that came before.

Eventually I arrive at the center of the dome and find my next opponent: a woman who looks to have been restrained with an odd device on her head. I didn’t get a chance to take her on, however, as I had to run to another appointment. If it’s anywhere near as thrilling at the first fight, though, I’m excited to give it a shot.

That said, I’m curious to see if Furi can keep up the momentum. It certainly has a strong start, but it’s not hard to see how it could falter. Good boss battles are a fickle thing, and given that’s what Furi’s entirely based around, it could easily fall apart if they aren’t consistently interesting. Still, I’m hopeful they’ll pull it off.

Furi is out on PlayStation 4 and PC on July 5.

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