Posted by Greg Giddens
Furmins is likely to feel familiar. It's a mixture of Lemmings and Cut the Rope: a physics based puzzler that challenges you to construct a passage for the titular creatures to roll through, all while collecting sweets, avoiding death, and reaching the goal in a fast enough time to gain three stars. These stars can then be used to unlock more levels of increasing difficulty. It's a recipe for success, but there's nothing particularly unique about the game. That said, its implementation of tried and tested puzzle mechanics makes a great fit for the PlayStation Vita, and it's just as enjoyable here as on smartphone devices, which is where the release originally debuted.
Perhaps its biggest departure from the norm is its visual style. While your view is limited to a flat plain, the eponymous creatures are rendered in 3D, and have a crisp, realistic texture wrapping them. Meanwhile, beautifully hand painted 2D backgrounds brimming with detail loiter behind the primary objects. As a result, it looks terrific and charming, providing an aesthetic identity that helps it to stand out from its peers.
Each level tasks you with moving a small selection of objects around the screen with touch controls to aid the Furmins in reaching their goal. These furry critters, however, don't walk, crawl, or jump forever forward – they're propelled only by momentum, as they roll from their spawn point, hitting the platforms, trampolines, and other objects that you place in their path. Tap the play button at the top of the screen, and the adorable orbs will travel through the route that you've set, and with a little luck and a lot of deductive reasoning, you'll have placed these objects in a way that guides the helpless fur balls to victory. If not, a tap of the reset button immediately restarts the level. Later on, proceedings get a little more complicated, as objects are introduced which react when you tap the rear or front touch screen. These flippers and conveyor belts throw reactionary challenges among the level construction to give your grey matter a bit more of a workout and increase the difficulty.
It's a certainly a simple premise, but Furmins very quickly sheds the training wheels. As new objects are introduced, you're taught how they work, and given a level to see them in action – but after that, the challenge ramps up. As you figure out the physics – how high the Furmins will jump off a trampoline, how much momentum is lost rolling on a flat plain, etc – you'll find a way to get them to their goal, if not through skill then trial and error, but collecting the sweets is a task that'll require far more experimentation and thinking. It keeps you retrying the same levels so as to master each challenge, and figuring out how it all fits together in a coherent, fluid motion of physics is satisfying.
There are eight stages in total, each with 12 levels and 36 stars to collect. You'll easily gather enough stars to open up the majority of the levels, but it's the eighth stage that changes things up a little. These bonus challenges are a true test of your skills, and throw more unusual and interesting tasks at you. With the ordinary stages, though, if you find one that you can't figure out, then fortunately you're free to explore any other conundrum, so getting stumped doesn't ruin the flow of the title.
Furmins is a great physics puzzler overall, with a sharp aesthetic, splendid music, and a stiff, compelling challenge. The trial and error nature of some puzzles can get a little irritating – but its smart design means that retrying a level is a quick and easy process. However, while the game's art style sets it apart from smaller titles, it's still a very familiar experience beneath all of its fur – even if genre enthusiasts will love it.