There’s something about foxes, isn’t there? Those little critters make up some of the most iconic characters in gaming. I mean, come on, Miles ‘Tails’ Prower from Sonic for Pete’s sake. In amongst the recent focus on the vulpine such as Lucky of Super Lucky’s Tale fame and Rick, the crossbow-wielding protagonist of Fox N Forests, we now have the adorable Furwind.
Set in a forest under threat by an ancient evil - because isn’t it always? - our protagonist must seek the knowledge and powers of their ancestors to overcome it. With a small host of other characters supporting them, one of which is the impossibly bearded elder, Furwind throws themselves into the danger that awaits them in the forest to defeat the evil once and for all.
Furwind is a simple platformer, jumping around differently themed levels and swishing your tail to dispatch the various creatures in your way. You have the ability to double jump (complete with the cutest smile ever - I’m serious) from the beginning, and gain new abilities such as temporary flight as you progress through the levels and chapters laid out on the map screen.
You have a set amount of hit points, which you can increase at the shop in exchange for the gems in the levels, a stamina bar for your attacks (genius, in my opinion), and the occasional checkpoint to get you through. Also, as a fantastic choice for a game such as this, there is no lives system, so you can fall to your little fluffy death as many times as you need to finish.
Every main level contains two small encounters, each of which drops a half of a medallion upon your victory and getting both halves opens the gate at the end of the level to finish it. Simple, right? Wrong. These encounters wildly vary depending on the level you’re in so they can involve dispatching a powerful foe, or even solving switch puzzles, to gain that trinket.
In the main levels there are scrolls hidden that unlock challenge levels, which are both fun and challenging. The platforming ones are delightful tests of skill, and the combat ones really help the player understand how to dispatch particular enemies. In short, the challenges are definitely worth seeking out the scrolls for each time and, you know, for completionists out there.
Despite the repeated levels in the game, there are different enemies, different level mechanics to overcome, the challenges of course, chase and boss levels, and a myriad of hidden items. The variety is reasonable, despite the repetition, so Furwind remains mostly engaging until its close. An unexpected surprise, considering how basic the game looks at first glance.
This is not to say that everything is perfect, as there are some small problems with the game, namely around the controls. The controls in Furwind are incredibly clunky from the outset and don't improve. This isn’t a problem in most of the levels, but in the levels where you’re being chased it really shows, leading to several frustrating moments of unfair deaths.
Furwind is an indie title, and you know what that means - PIXEL ART! I’m not complaining about it here, for sure, as the art style perfectly matches the simplicity of the game itself. But, it’s impossible to ignore how adorable our protagonist is, with his little ears, swishy tail, and that smile he does after a double jump (I’m really serious). If only he fit in with the world around him.
The world is rendered in gorgeous pixel art, but with a far darker tone. Our plucky hero explores various ruins, dark caverns and perilous towers. But that is it, so the visual variety of the levels is limited, and as such does become a little stale pretty quickly. Luckily the level design itself is solid, for the most part anyway so this repetition can be overlooked, at least mostly.
Furwind is a mostly solid game. It's a little short, around five hours or so, but longer should you wish to get 100% of the challenges in the game. Once you get used to the controls, the gameplay is (mostly) solid, the bosses are justifiably annoying, and the visuals charming. It's good, sure, but it can't be denied that there's just so much better on the Switch to play.