Monday, July 15, 2019

Furwind (NSW, PS4, PSV, PC) Review

We're in middle of the month, and it's time for the first review of July. Don't worry--things are about to pick up review-wise for the month! For the time being, let's take a look at Furwind, a 2D pixel art action-platformer from publisher JanduSoft.

This fur doesn't really fly.

In an age where 2D indie platformers are a dime a dozen (figuratively speaking, of course), it's growing increasingly more difficult for developers to differentiate their game from the rest of the pack. Enter Furwind, a pixel art-based 2D platformer that's solid enough on the surface, but control issues and level design quirks make for a game that stands out for the wrong reasons.

There are various types of levels within Furwind, but the primary type has you moving through a veritable maze of platforming challenges in order to seek out two halves of a medallion. These medallions are dropped by mini-bosses found in special rooms in levels. Once the medallion has been assembled, the exit portal of the level opens up, and it's just a matter of reaching it to complete the level.

The pixel art in Furwind is truly remarkable.
Furwind uses a checkpoint system where you pay in-game currency to utilize a checkpoint, and each time you use a checkpoint, the price to use it again goes up. Thus, strategic use of checkpoints is encouraged, but I found checkpoints to be too sparse anyway. The danger wasn't having enough money to use a checkpoint; the danger was not finding a checkpoint in time before dying, and then having to redo a significant amount of progress all over again.

Checkpoints aren't the only thing currency is good for. Within the world map is a shop where you can purchase health, stamina, and other types of upgrades using the currency you've collected in levels. These optional goodies can make the difficult action-platforming adventure that is Furwind all the more manageable.

"Whatcha' buyin'?" Oh, wait. Wrong vendor and wrong game.
I say "optional", but for less patient players, they're more mandatory than anything else. Furwind is a hard game, and part of that is in the mechanics themselves. For one, our fox hero has poor reach with his main mode of attacking, flinging his tail. The ungenerous range of the tail resulted in more than my fair share of aggravating and unfair damage from enemies because I had to get dangerously close just to hit them, or use insanely tight timing to land an attack. Further, but more well designed is the stamina gauge, where every attack our hero uses depletes some of the gauge. It steadily refills and recharges after a few seconds or so, but it discourages spamming the attack button to get through the game. That said, our hero can be caught with his tail down when he's unable to attack and a deluge of enemies march his way.

Other level types include specific platforming, battle, and puzzle challenges that unlock from discovering scrolls within the previously mentioned levels in the game. These challenges require plenty of skill to complete, and some are infuriating in their level of difficulty. More so due to the fact that some are lengthy enough that death results in having to do the challenge all the way back from the beginning. Meanwhile, the last type of level in Furwind has you rescuing villagers in cages by defeating all of the enemies within the immediate vicinity.

Looks like someone brought a tail to a shaman fight.
There are three chapters within Furwind, and they feature similar level types in each and a similar stable of foes as well. While forest and dungeon towers were favorites of mine, the levels where your vision is obscured in a cave of darkness and your only way of survival is to collect fireflies that light the way I detested. Between the small field of vision that resulted in cheap hits and the strict timing to collect fireflies before the darkness enveloped my character, it was a test of patience than anything else.

Each chapter concludes with a challenging boss battle.
Despite being an adequate action-platformer with pretty pixel art and good enough mechanics, frustrating checkpoint design, those blasted cave levels, and the difficulty of the game for some unfair reasons mar what would otherwise be a solid recommendation from me. As is, Furwind is a game that neither exudes enough excellence nor sets itself apart from the 2D indie platforming pack enough to completely forgive the many problems the game possesses.

[SPC Says: C+]

A review code was provided for this game.

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