Fury. Unleashed. FURY UNLEASHED. Fu-ry Un-lea-shed. Fury Unleashed. Nope. No matter how I type it, Fury Unleashed still looks like an incredibly generic name for a stereotypically bland video game. And yet, play a mere 10 minutes and you may be pleasantly surprised – and slightly hooked.
In this roguelite – roguelike? Does anyone actually know what term we should use for this? I guess, yes, but I really can’t be arsed Googling it – you’ll make your way through three ‘comic books’ which in turn contain three, procedurally generated levels. Think of the classic 1-1, 1-2, 1-3 system except with a bit more randomness, a soul spewing gun, and fewer moustachioed men jumping on mushrooms.
Each book has its own setting, from an Aztec-inspired jungle, a military base home to time travelling Nazis, and an alien invasion, there’s something for everyone?
Ain’t no fury like an unleashed fury
The three styles are distinct, and they flaunt the wonderful, comic book-style aesthetic. While not exactly settings I would pick, each is presented with a brilliant mix of colour, as well as a nice use of foreground and background to make the 2D set pieces pronounced. They showcase developer Awesome Games Studio’s attempt to recreate a cartoon(y) atmosphere, and they’ve done it with success. Plus, you get to shoot some Nazis in the face, so why not?
While the atmosphere is a nice one to run around and shoot in, it’s the running around and shooting which this action platformer lives or dies on. Thankfully, it delivers.
Armed with only an SMG and a katana, to begin with, you’ll dash from panel to panel of each double-spread, dodging enemies and shooting them square in their skinless, boney husk; their racist-filled, Nazi cheeks; or their slightly bulbous, Extra-Terrestrial forehead – depending on what comic you’re in.
No matter the book, shooting X thing in the face is hugely satisfying with a whole array of different guns to choose from – or rather, what may be bestowed upon you. There are classics like the SMG or shotgun, but Fury Unleashed introduces a chunk of variety the longer you play, and more you unlock. A particular run with an acid thrower was exceptionally rewarding. There are a few guns which gently nod to other notable series, which is always fun.
Shoot. Stab. Rinse. Repeat.
Perhaps the wild card of the combat system, though, is the ‘stomp’. By pressing the directional button down, your character will descend rather rapidly, feet poised for maximum damage. If timed well, the steel-capped toes will crush the skull of any unlucky enemy too slow to get out of the way. But, if you’re like me and miss regularly, it may end up being your Achilles’ heel as you plummet onto a large clump of spikes. Ouch!
What may distinguish this roguelite from others, though, is its combo system.
With every kill you gain one combo point. Congratulations! Now can you stack it? The main challenge in this game is whether or not you can keep your combo going as each point will net you better rewards.
Killing the next enemy as quickly as possible is the tried and tested method to keep your combo going. Hell, you’ll end up desperately searching for a pot or crate as you rush to the other side of the map, hoping by slashing the porcelain, you can stave off the combo bar reaching zero.
One kill, two kills, three kills, MORE!
It’s an incredibly effective system, forcing you to risk situations you wouldn’t usually. Normally you may be inclined to inch forward, but Fury Unleashed wants you right in the centre, throwing grenades and shooting like a maniac, anything to keep the combo going.
However, eventually a bullet will scrape you, or a bug will fly into your face and when it happens, a short moment of despair will hit, followed by a need to get the combo rolling again. That is if you survive.
Playing on the recommended ‘hard’ difficulty, you may find it, well, hard. While the first few runs will be a bit of a struggle, the game incentivises you to keep going and to get better as upon each death, you can spend points to upgrade your character. It’s a generous system. Every attempt feels worthwhile as you inch towards more health or increasing reload speed.
Hard? We’re just getting started.
Bosses may be your cause of death as there are a few archetypes and just enough variations to cause concern. While some can feel a little unfair, it’s generally to do with the guns you have or certain upgrades not going your way. A couple will frustrate, though.
In amidst the boss fights and killing hordes of enemies, there are some nice challenges throughout which want you to kill a certain number of enemies with a melee weapon, increase your combo count by ten without failing or even jump through a section without getting hit. These mini-goals add a nice flavour to each run and cause you to experiment.
For a game which has spent the past three years in early access, it’s clear Awesome Games Studio has spent their time fine-tuning and creating a replayable experience. While not a perfect game with controls feeling a little loose when the heat gets turned up, and a storyline which isn’t finished or particularly interesting, Fury Unleashed was absolutely a pleasant surprise.