Fury Unleashed Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and PC
“Fury Unleashed is a combo-drive roguelite action platformer” by Awesome Games Studio that takes place within an everchanging comic book series. You take on the role of the protagonist Fury, the star of the fictitious comic book series Fury Unleashed. As you play you start to learn that your creator John Kowalski is struggling with continuing his famous series and wonders if spending his life producing art was all a waste. The further you go through, the more you get to peer into the heart of the artist. It's an interesting take that adds story beats and heart to a game that would otherwise just be raw action. With all the subtext aside you play through three Fury Unleashed comics in succession all with varying themes: Awakening of The Ancient Gods, Operation Crimson Dusk, and Earth’s Last Stand. These first books are all available for early access on Steam. In the full game, there is also an ominous fourth book that appears to be the creator’s notebook labeled with a sticky note “Work in Progress.” I won’t spoil what’s in this final book, so you’ll have to play the full game to find out.
In the first comic Awakening of The Ancient Gods, the theme is a skeleton and bug-invested jungle where even the plants attack you. Operation Crimson Dusk pits Fury against a group of futuristic neo-Nazis who've developed a time travel machine to rewrite the history of WWII. Then finally Earth’s Last Stand is fought against - well you probably guessed it - murderous aliens. The way a playthrough works is you start in book one chapter one and must complete three chapters (levels) before fighting one of the final bosses and progressing onto the subsequent comic. There is a way to start at the second or third book, but you’ll have to beat all three bosses in the previous comic to unlock that option. Keep in mind you’ll only face one of the main bosses for each run-through of a full comic.
As Fury who you can customize, you’re a gun-toting madman (or woman) that can shoot, throw grenades, melee, double jump, dash infinitely on the ground, air dash, stomp on enemies, and unleash a superpower. When you kill three enemies or more, they begin dropping health, after your combo hits five you gain a shield that keeps you invulnerable from one enemy attack, so you retain your combo. Your combo timer is short but tops up every time you attack or kill an enemy and it stays active if you don’t get hit without a shield up or simply letting it run out. The higher your combo gets the more ink (game currency) you get when killing enemies which you can spend leveling up. Gaining levels you can start stacking up to three shields that build up every five kills. I spent most of my points on extending my combo time and increasing shields which make high combo runs more feasible. Thankfully any points you spend on levels you can refund with no penalty and redistribute to other attributes. It was enjoyable to have the freedom to play around with builds to see how effective everything was.
The mechanics of the game are simple, but the execution has a very steep learning curve. This is said constantly with this type of game but be ready to die a lot. If you’re concerned about accessibility there is an “Easy Mode” with customizable parameters and switching between easy and hard doesn’t affect your hero progress. When you start the first comic, you’ll see the comic level load which is broken up into randomly generated sections, so each time you play the level layout will vary. You will see exit points to gain entry to other sections of the comic. A mechanic that helps hugely to keep your combo going is the ability to fast travel between sections. You can only do it about three times, but you can increase that number in the skill tree.
In true roguelite fashion, if you die, you’ll have to start over at the beginning of book one. Thankfully during your playthrough, you’ll be collecting ink that you keep upon death. You then have the opportunity of spending your ink on leveling up your character before setting off on another run. Keeping any form of “progress” is what makes this game a roguelite instead of a true roguelike where you lose everything when you die. Personally, I do enjoy the genre of roguelikes but being able to keep something does give me a sense of accomplishment even though I just died. Also, you’ll collect gold ink (gold orbs) which allows you to buy upgrades while playing, like regular ink (black orbs) the higher your combo is the more you'll get. In each level, there will be portals scattered throughout that either hold random drops or an NPC shop. You can find armour, guns, superpowers and grenade upgrades, or buy them at different portals with gold ink. There are numerous NPC shops that will give you upgrades, boons, let you fix your armour, heal, the opportunity to complete challenges, sacrifice health for rare traits, and gain access to new weapon categories. Pro-tip: standing in these portals makes your combo-timer stay full so use that to your advantage. Challenges will sometimes pop up as well either through a shop or an active portal that pulls you to a challenge room if your combo is high enough. Completing these challenges will net you tons of ink or allow you to permanently keep some basic weapons you can start your game with.
Fury Unleashed is an extremely difficult but fun game that causes you to get good with its mechanics because you must. The combo system promotes learning the nuanced dance of avoiding being hit while destroying everything in sight. With tons of guns and gear that vary in style and efficiency keeps each playthrough fresh. You can tell by how the game plays and its choice of the fourth wall breaking narrative that Fury Unleashed was a labour of love. Kudos to Awesome Games Studios for spending the 5 years of development on Fury Unleashed because it shows in the fluidity of gameplay. I really wish there was even more content to be had but with the effective procedural randomness and high difficulty I keep coming back for more.