Claws of Furry is another entry in the increasingly crowded rogue-lite genre, offering up the challenging gameplay across multiple levels, perma-death and most other associated trappings of the genre. Unfortunately, none of it is done with any real style or grace, leading to the game quickly descending from a challenge to frustration to just dull tedium. Claws of Furry opens with a tutorial, setting the scene as your master is kidnapped. He talks you through the basic controls before being whisked away by his captor, and then the game presents you with 3 options.
In rogue play, you have a single life to make it through the game. Needless to say, I did not manage this. Early on, the combat is simple – repetitive but easy enough to plough through to keep you playing. But, by the time the bigger enemies are introduced, the cracks start to show. With just a very basic move set (and a special attack that is only mentioned in the loading screens as far as I saw) combat soon wears out your patience, as well as your X button. Enemies plough into you once in range. Often, I found my health dwindling as I had lost my character in the shuffle.
Between projectiles, lower level foes crowding you and larger enemies basically shrugging off your attacks, it can all go very wrong very quickly. A dodge roll can help, but again, the bigger foes just seem to laugh at this attempt, the distance covered barely getting you out of range half the time. There are also points where you can be insta-killed. In the sewer levels for example, fall into the green ooze at the bottom of the screen and it’s back to the start of the game with you. I wouldn’t mind this so much if it wasn’t incredibly easy for the enemies to just nudge you like it was nothing, despite you being on the offence.
Several times, I’d jump across a gap only to be met mid-air by a large gator. My fists flying, it felt as though they merely willed me to fall, and so it was. It’s almost laughable how much punishment some of the foes take – and it’s only exacerbated by the fact that 99% of the time, you’ll merely be hammering X. Y gives you a stronger uppercut, but is only useful against smaller enemies. B throws projectiles that, once again, are useless against bigger foes; i.e the ones you want to keep your distance from. As it is, you must get up close and personal, thus losing a tonne of health through their sheer damage sponginess and your own boredom.
But all is not lost! Each bested adversary drops a health orb granting you a brief reprieve. Brief is perhaps a bit too generous perhaps; 1 single life point is granted per orb. Even the weaker foes deal much more than that, meaning you are always on the back foot. Of course, rogue-lites are supposed to be somewhat tough, but between the dull combat, boring enemies and lack of any real progression or rewards, the hardest part of the game is keeping interest. Pussycat mode offers players a light alternative; you no longer have to restart the whole game again upon death, though difficulty and boredom still remain the same.
Rather oddly however, after defeating the first boss and entering the sewers, every time I died I was placed at the level before the boss no matter how far through the sewers I had gotten. I did not have to fight him again unless I quit to the title screen, but seeing as the selling point of the mode appears to be no replaying levels upon death, I found this to be incredibly annoying. Finally, Arena rounds out your offerings. A simple wave based mode, it wears out its welcome quickly. Within 30 seconds, huge enemies are spawning en masse, making it more a battle of attrition to stay interested than a fun challenge.
I will say, the art style is quite good. Characters are well designed and everything is colorful and has a chucky look to it. Sadly, the game around it is just a poor attempt at following a trend in gaming. A good rogue-lite puts the fate of the player in their own hands; success or failure depends on your grasp of the mechanics. Here, unless you are really a fan of the X button, frustration soon gives way to boredom.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.