It's disappointing, but it's become a dirty word, "indie". Take a cursory glance at the PlayStation Blog or even this very website, and you'll find readers ragging on forays that have been developed on slimmer budgets than a Whopper meal. Curation plays a part in that: there's some real tosh on the PlayStation Store these days. But it's our job to pick out the gems, and we're not messing when we say that Furi is one game that you should have your eyes on.
Our very own Robert Ramsey has been hyping this to the South Shields hills for some time now, and so this author opted to get some hands-on time with the title at EGX Rezzed last week – mostly out of spite. But this game – in development at French firm The Game Bakers – is genuinely impressive, and all of Ramsey's enthusiasm is justified. It may be being worked on by a team of just 15, but it's seriously exciting what the Montpellier-based outfit has achieved.
The game sees you assume the role of a white-haired warrior who looks like a cross between original Dante and that geezer from El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Your objective, from what we could gather, is to escape from prison, and you're guided by a Donnie Darko-esque rabbit with pink fur. The art direction is a little bizarre, but with Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki contributing, it's bloody good all the same.
The moment-to-moment action, however, is better. The game consists of a series of boss fights – not massively dissimilar to, say, Titan Souls or Shadow of the Colossus – complete with all of the spectacle that comes with them. The camera pans as you slowly waltz your way into an arena, where the figurative excrement will subsequently hit the fan. We got to play the first battle – a brawl against a three-headed foe reminiscent of the Quintessons from Transformers fame.
You have a handful of moves in your arsenal: you can dodge, slash, shoot, and parry. The fight that we played fused long-range, Super Stardust-esque dual-stick shooting with close-quarters God of War-like combat. As you whittle down the enemy's health bar, his attack patterns change, so you need to remain on your toes and take advantage of all of the tools at your disposal in order to stand any chance of success.
For example, when close and personal, you need to try and second-guess what your opponent's going to do; timing a parry will open a window for you to attack in. At distance, however, you'll need to zoom around the arena, avoiding bullet hell-esque laser patterns before a window opens for you to unleash your inner-rage. It's really fun, and is aided by slick controls and a silky smooth framerate which provides fighting game levels of responsiveness.
The big challenge for Furi, then, after making such a strong first impression, is whether it can keep it up over the course of an entire campaign. The developer stresses that each fight will test you in different ways using the same core mechanics, but that's a tricky thing to pull off. But even if it fails, we can be guaranteed an audio-visual feast, as the firm's recruited Carpenter Brut and other electro bands to create an aggressive soundscape that matches the action exactly.
The title's due out this summer, and is without doubt one to watch.
Are you excited for Furi, or do you blame the game for getting a certain Prince song stuck in your head? Beat the final boss in the comments section below.