Shooting And Slicing Through Bullet Hell In Furi

One of the trickier aspects of previewing videogames is that you’re playing something that’s not finished. Purely because it’s still deep in development, you’re often looking for the potential of what’s on show and trying to see past what’s still work in progress. Though there’s time to go from its short PC preview build, Furi has me very impressed.

There’s a lot of intriguing elements being blended together here, so that it’s best described as a fusion of twin-stick shooting, bullet hell shooters, and arena boss fight combat. That’s a bit of a mouthful to say, but it does certainly describe the gameplay that Furi is going for. Maybe “Bullet Hell Arena Combat” could work as a label, but I digress.


This demo consisted of one boss battle with a few cutscene transitions that had the main character being held against his will by a three-faced jailer. Constantly belittling his captive by taunting that he won’t ever leave, this certainly motivated me as a player to prove him wrong. Egged on by a stranger with a bunny mask, invoking the creepiness of Donnie Darko, I set about the Jailer’s demise. As a tutorial boss of sorts, he’s a little bit of a pushover.

Part of the game’s fusion of elements can be seen in just how the fight was structured. Both the Jailer and I had multiple lives, a little reminiscent of how a fighting game has rounds. However, as you fight the boss and manage to drain his health to zero, you shift from one from of gameplay to the next.

The first of these phases takes inspiration from twin-stick shooters and bullet hell games. It all felt natural to control, whether popping off a steady stream of shots, charging up attacks or dodging to get through a wave of incoming bullets. They just need to try to tighten up the slight input lag at the start of the dodge animation, and it could be a compelling shoot ’em up in its own right.

With the Jailer’s health bar drained to nothing, this was my chance to get close and attack him with my sword, initiating the second and more melee focused phase of the fight. This largely involved parrying and dodging attacks, while waiting for openings and hitting with charged attacks to stagger him. There’s plenty of tension here, to the point that I even found myself knocked down and losing one of my own lives.

Eventually the Jailer had enough of humouring me and brought out his bigger attacks, actively hunting me down and throwing tons of bullets at me. They were still fairly easy to dodge, as the preceding parts taught me how to exploit parts of his attacks, but I can imagine how further bosses will keep you on your toes as they change their tactics and gameplay style over the course of the battle.

The visual style is certainly striking, with Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki lending his artistic talents to the game’s overall look and design. It’s very flashy and while I’m not a big fan of either Afro Samurai or Electro music, both fit the look and feel of the game’s fast-paced and tense combat.

For such a short time with it, playing it twice on the harder difficulty setting, I am extremely encouraged by what The Game Bakers are cooking up here. Furi’s intriguing concept and the way it fuses multiple genres together is fascinating. With those core ideas in place, it’s now up to the developers to build surprising and inventive boss encounters on top of them. Furi is certainly one I’ll be keeping an eye on.