Demanding duels and superb style: You should be playing Furi

What is it? 

A hyper-stylized series of boss fights that blend sword clashes and bullet-hell shootouts

Play it if you like…

Dueling against a cast of cool, inventive villains similar to those seen in No More Heroes and Metal Gear Rising

  • Format: PS4, PC
  • Price: $25/£18, or free with PS Plus during the month of July 2016
  • Release date: July 5

There's nothing quite like a finely crafted boss fight. Intimidation gives way to determination; you've sized up your enemy, adjusted to their movements, and studied their patterned onslaughts to perfect the optimal counterattack. Your grip tightens, your palms sweat, and your pulse pounds as you trade hits with your opponent, unsure which one of you will land the killing blow first. And finally, whether it's your first or fifteenth attempt, you emerge victorious, brimming with satisfaction and the confidence to take on whatever new challenges lie in wait. That immensely gratifying gameplay loop is what fuels Furi, an action game that hones in on the thrill of memorable boss battles above all else.

You play as an unnamed warrior, liberated from a torturous prison cell by a strange figure wearing a giant rabbit head. Armed with only your sword and a laser pistol, you must fight for your freedom against a series of guardians hellbent on keeping you locked up. Furi has no minor enemies to speak of - it's all boss fights from start to finish, with intermission-like transitions between each encounter to let you take a breath and glean insight into your next opponent's motivations. You won't be facing any larger-than-life monstrosities akin to what you'd see in God of War or Bayonetta - instead, Furi focuses on intimate one-on-one duels, letting you zero in each guardian's distinct fighting style and unique appearance. Hero and villains alike look ridiculously cool, courtesy of character designs from Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki, and each guardian boasts peculiar, Metal Gear Solid-style names like The Chain, The Scale, and The Hand.

Furi is dripping in style, from the supersaturated colors and slick animations, to the thumping electronica music that accompanies each fight. The soundtrack is on par with the Hotline Miami series, and even features tracks from some of the same artists such as Carpenter Brut and Scattle. When a particularly sick beat kicks in right as your opponent enters their next phase and utters a goading taunt, dopamine floods your brain and adrenaline courses through your body. There are also plenty of ingenious little touches - for instance, whenever someone speaks (excluding our mute hero), the DualShock 4 lights up to match that character's primary color.

Between boss fights, you must walk through a serene, otherworldly landscape while your rabbit-masked accomplice regales you with the backstory of the next boss, teleporting around you like the Cheshire Cat as you trudge towards the next encounter. These scenes are framed beautifully, with each shot looking like a still from a flashy anime. The tradeoff is that the shifting camera angles can make the controls go a little wonky, but here's a pro tip: simply tapping the X button will make the protagonist automatically walk towards his destination, freeing you up to soak in the gorgeous vista and intriguing story.

When you do finally enter each guardian's domain, the fights that follow are sublime. Furi has no upgrades to speak of, giving you access to your entire skillset right from the get-go and bypassing complex combos in favor of a few essential moves. Determining whether you need to slash, shoot, parry, or dodge all comes to down to the enemy's attack pattern, with inventive uses of all the core combat mechanics to keep you on your toes. More importantly, you can truly feel yourself getting better with each attempt. Bosses that seemed impossible at first will become child's play once you've acclimated to their moves and pinpointed your opening to strike back. Ok, maybe not child's play - you'll still need patience and deft reflexes to prevail - but no challenge in Furi is insurmountable. With enough dedication, you'll summon the strength and skill to overcome each fight, without ever having to worry about boss design sins like randomness or one-hit kills.

If you've ever reveled in the breathtaking rush of defeating a particularly tricky enemy, or crave carefully tuned challenges that demand your very best, you'd be a fool to miss out on Furi -especially since it's free on PS+ this month. Its entrancing sense of style is matched by engaging substance, and conquering Furi's difficult duels pays off in supreme satisfaction. By the end, you'll feel as though you've just sharpened your skills in some kind of visionary virtual dojo - and if you're truly determined, you'll be eager to do it all over again on a higher difficulty level.

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Lucas Sullivan

Lucas Sullivan is the former US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. Lucas spent seven years working for GR, starting as an Associate Editor in 2012 before climbing the ranks. He left us in 2019 to pursue a career path on the other side of the fence, joining 2K Games as a Global Content Manager. Lucas doesn't get to write about games like Borderlands and Mafia anymore, but he does get to help make and market them.