One-on-one com­bat is a game of tak­ing turns. You evade, block or re­pel your en­emy’s at­tacks un­til your mo­ment comes, that lit­tle win­dow of op­por­tu­nity invit­ing you onto the front foot. This is the most vi­tal com­po­nent of any fight­ing game, of any boss bat­tle. You should have to work for your turn, and when it comes – when to be­comes fro, back be­comes forth – the out­come should feel like a just re­ward for your ef­forts. It’s a con­cept The Game Bak­ers has failed to grasp en­tirely. This game re­quires a tremen­dous amount of in­put, but gives pre­cious lit­tle out­put.

Still, it does not lack spec­ta­cle. Furi tests the mem­ory, the re­flexes and the thumbs. It looks sump­tu­ous, sounds ter­rific and has an in­trigu­ing, oddly af­fect­ing story. And there are mo­ments where ev­ery­thing works as it should, as a plan is finely formed, per­fectly im­ple­mented and the an­tag­o­nist who’s had hold of your goat for a few teeth-gnash­ing hours is fi­nally put to the sword.

Sadly, for much of the rest of its run­time, it’s just kind of an­noy­ing. Furi’s great con­cep­tual trick is that it blends the bal­letic to-and-fro of a melee brawler’s boss fight with the pat­tern recog­ni­tion and pre­ci­sion of a bul­let-hell shooter. And, when those two el­e­ments ac­tu­ally blend, it’s in­tox­i­cat­ing. But by and large, rather than ele­gantly com­bine its two core con­cepts, Furi strobes be­tween them. Dodge these bul­lets; parry these at­tacks; blink through these lasers. Then do it all again, with slightly more to con­tend with, or slightly dif­fer­ent tim­ing. Even­tu­ally, you’ll be given a small win­dow in which to deal some dam­age. We’re happy to dance to an op­po­nent’s tune, so long as we get to lead at some point. Un­for­tu­nately, even when the ad­van­tage is yours, Furi calls the shots.

You’ll close in and start up your stan­dard four-hit melee combo, but the boss will back­flip away from the third hit, then parry the fourth. You’ll find a gap in an at­tack string and quickly strike, only for them to can­cel their cur­rent an­i­ma­tion and knock you away. Weav­ing in and out of a bul­let cur­tain, you’ll line up a charged shot with your laser pis­tol, only to find that your en­emy is in­vin­ci­ble. There’s no room for cre­ativ­ity, for im­pro­vi­sa­tion or self-ex­pres­sion; all that mat­ters is prov­ing you’ve com­mit­ted an en­tire fight to mem­ory.

It’s a tremen­dous shame, be­cause the bosses them­selves are a finely con­ceived, smartly de­signed and var­ied bunch. The cre­ative health sys­tem (see ‘A life less or­di­nary’) adds ten­sion and el­e­gance to the way fights progress from a sim­ple, ac­com­mo­dat­ing first phase to an in­sanely pun­ish­ing cli­max. Were it not so re­stric­tive, Furi might have been a clas­sic.

En­emy bul­lets are smartly colour-coded. These stan­dard or­ange pro­jec­tiles can be shot away, while a green vari­ant con­tains a health boost. Blues can be par­ried, while pur­ple ones will home in on you, forc­ing you into cover

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