This is Keeping Score, a series about games and their soundtracks. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
Furi, from developers The Game Bakers, combines two genres that I have little to no experience with. It’s part super-tough melee brawler, full of timed parries and lightning fast dodges, eager to put players through the ringer until they have learned to react to attacks on instinct. I haven’t played many games like that, but from what I’ve read it sounds similar to the exacting duels of Dark Souls and the rest of the FromSoftware catalog, or even “spectacle brawlers” like the Devil May Cry series and other games by Ninja Theory. But Furi is also part twin stick “bullet hell” shooter, asking players to weave through crazy patterns of deadly projectiles to stay alive. I have even less experience with these types of games, but they seem to hearken back to the design ethos of classic arcade games, with high skill ceilings that entice players to invest time in mastering the game’s intricacies. And on top of that, it’s a “boss rush” game. You know how many games have players work through large numbers of weaker opponents and traverse various obstacles, before facing a final, extra difficult “boss” enemy at the end of the level? Well, “boss rush” games get rid of all of that and just leave the bosses. Furi is a series of extremely challenging duels, and it goes all in on the concept.
I find all of this a bit intimidating. The hardest games I’ve played are classic roguelikes, which at least give me as much time as I want to consider each move. I don’t relish the prospect of practicing timed sequences over and over with a mistimed split-second reaction leading to failure, or learning to dodge insane attack patterns that fill the entire screen. But Furi is enticing in other ways. It has a bold art style, starring some sort of cyborg ninja with a cool red cloak, making his way through a strange world full of bold colors and fantastical environments. All of it is displayed with intentionally low resolution textures and shading gradient effects, such that it almost seems flat shaded a times. It’s striking, and even seeing still screenshots made me wonder if Furi might be the game that would finally convince me to leave my comfort zone and take on these notoriously difficult genres. I could even get two of them out of the way at the same time! And, to top it off, Furi features an original soundtrack composed by a who’s who list of synthwave composers, including names like Carpenter Brut, Danger, and The Toxic Avenger. Oh, all right then. I’ll give Furi a go.