Furi is a frantic death battle set in a dystopian fantasy world

Games focusing specifically on boss battles have become a mini-genre in recent years, including such acclaimed titles as Shadow of the Colossus and Titan Souls. They put you right into the fray and have you taking on larger-than-life beasts. The Game Bakers certainly seem to have a level of respect for the big boss battle genre, but the developer wants to create something a bit different with its own upcoming boss-based action game, Furi.

The big difference here is the size of the bosses. In Furi, you won't be seeking out massive, phenomenal creatures. Instead, you'll be taking on powerful human characters that are just about your character's size, creating more of a death battle scenario. Blend that scenario with the game's futuristic, dystopian visual themes, and you've got a surreal combat-heavy experience to look forward to.

A Cyber Dystopia

It's hard not to notice the game's visual direction right off the bat. The demo I played started out with a cutscene featuring the protagonist and a strange man wearing a big rabbit head. This mysterious character guides the player character through the game, giving him vague hints about his enemies and the world around them. The rabbit dude definitely helped to keep things lighthearted, but his presence was surreal and sort of creepy, adding a nightmarish quality to the cutscene.

The game's aesthetic is quite stunning. I was somewhat reminded of No More Heroes when I saw a few of the character designs, but the characters I saw in Furi still had their own unique flair. The stage I played during my time with the game was filled with reds and purples, only enhancing the surrealist art design.

Creative Director Emeric Thoa highlighted some of the clear visual influences and themes of Furi, including a focus on masks and historical costume designs. He explained that, as a game based solely on bosses, "character designs are important." And he referenced games like Transistor and Journey, which blend both classic and futuristic styles. Executive Producer Audrey Leprince also touched on the cyber fantasy themes of Furi, which are quite evident when you spend just a few minutes in the game's captivating world.

Not a Simple Button Masher

Though I got a slight Suda51 vibe from Furi, the game differs vastly from that iconic developer's brand of madness. Oh, Furi is still quite frantic and insane in its own right, but it takes a much more methodical approach with its gameplay. Specifically, you won't get away with simply button mashing your way through battles. Enemies will not only block your attacks, rendering them pointless, but they can counterattack as well.

Furi is very much a skill-based game, and your timing and reflexes are of the utmost importance if you wish to succeed. As a result, the game is more challenging than the typical action game. At the same time, it's also more empowering. Thoa listed Punch-Out!! and God Hand as specific inspirations, and he also said that Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Devil May Cry were all influential in the creation of Furi. Beyond those titles, the game also has a very clear Japanese action influence.

Every boss behaves differently and utilizes specific attacks, logic, fighting styles, and patterns. This means you'll have to learn the ways an enemy fights and then un-learn the patterns you memorized when you move on. That won't be too difficult as you've got a nice range of maneuvers in your arsenal, but even then, these are so focused that you won't feel overwhelmed by what your character can do. At your disposal are long-range bullet-like energy shots, slashes, dodges, and parrying moves. You can also charge your attacks if you have an opening, allowing you to inflict more damage.

Going Hands-On and Delivering Death

Even though boss characters aren't massive in size, they're still quite menacing. While taking on one boss in particular, he constantly made sinister verbal threats. His attack patterns evolved with every phase, and he was a challenge to defeat.

Initially he attacked from a distance with a spray of shots that reminded me of a bullet hell shooter. I responded with shots of my own, and when he was weakened significantly, I went in closer. This then created a more hand-to-hand combat scenario where I used slash attacks to further chip away at the enemy's health bar. As previously specified, though, it wasn't as easy as simply tapping buttons blindly. A lot of the time, I had to parry attacks at just the right moment, which then created an opening for me to deliver some strong blows.

I took a great deal of damage myself, but thankfully I regained health every time I got through one of the boss character's phases, or lives. Speaking of which, the protagonist starts out with three lives, so if you take a lot of damage early on, you're not necessarily doomed.

Unrelenting Fury

The Game Bakers discussed unlockable content including artwork, a speedrun mode, and a higher difficulty. Interestingly, the unlockable difficulty not only ups the challenge, but it also changes the bosses' attack patterns and behaviors. So you won't just be taking on enemies with stronger versions of the same attacks or sturdier health bars. Instead, you'll be in store for a different experience should you brave the higher difficulty setting.

Accompanying you for the ride will be a high-energy soundtrack filled with great music. Though details are still under wraps, Furi will feature an action-oriented collection of electro themes from a number of musicians including Carpenter Brut. I've only heard a select few tunes from the game, but I really like what I've heard so far, and I'm excited to listen to more as I play through the game.

Furi is shaping up to be a remarkable action gameplay experience. Though it's a boss battle game with beat 'em up style, it's not reliant on mindless button mashing. It also goes in a different direction by tasking you with defeating human characters rather than gigantic beasts. Yet the dream-like aesthetic still helps to create a fantasy setting that's a joy to behold.

I felt challenged and had a lot of fun taking on one boss, so suffice it to say that I want more of what this game has to offer. If you're in the market for a unique spin on boss battles and action gameplay, keep a lookout for Furi. The game is due out this summer for the PlayStation 4 and PC.