Much like my good friend (and fellow Xt-er) Jamie, I quite enjoy a retro-fueled platformer, and on paper, Furwind certainly ticks that box. I wont say that it’s among the best games of its kind, because, well, simply due to the vast number of like-minded additions we’ve seen this gen, that would be quite a robust statement. However, I’ll certainly point out that it’s well worthy of your time and attention, especially if, like me, you enjoy this sort of experience. Despite a few annoyances and issues, this whole trek will serve you well.
The game’s story, with its best intentions to the side, takes somewhat of a back seat here. There’s not much here that steps outside of the realm of expectation. Players take on the role of the titular Furwind, a young fox that’s been tasked with saving the lands from despair, brought about by an evil that’s since escaped the shackles of a lengthy imprisonment. The plot is nicely set up starting out, opening with some stills and being further supplemented throughout the adventure via dialogue exchanges with a range of different characters.
Whilst it wont be winning any awards any time soon, it’s nice to see that the developer put their level best into creating a formula that’s (at the very least) engaging enough, if indeed a little too safe for my liking. The game does a good job at feeding you into the fields of play. Within the first hour of play, you’ll have a firm grasp as to how everything handles, how the game’s mechanics work, and how the whole ordeal functions. That being said, this isn’t an easy game, in fact, it’s actually rather challenging when it wants to be, which is welcoming.
I’ll say as much about the game’s control layout, being that everything is well mapped and simple enough to digest. Furwind presents you with a world map, in which you’ll browse a selection of levels that you’ll need to enter and complete before being shoehorned to a new group of levels to work through. Progress here is very straightforward. The levels that you’re taken across are broken into different types, and many levels house secrets that unlock additional levels on the world map; some of which are mandatory for further progression.
The crux of play sees you moving through these levels as you pursue the endgame. Over on the world map, you’re able to see what you’ve collected from each level, and what you need to gather overall to advance through the main framework. The main levels consist of you seeking out two halves of a medallion, both of which are typically earned through defeating a boss or solving a puzzle. Once you have both halves, you’ll then need to locate a portal gateway to complete the current stage. The game’s additional levels vary a little bit.
These are smaller and more confined, and typically see you clearing a room full of enemies to free a trapped NPC, activating a mystical trigger before making an escape, and other similar bouts of fun. The game’s main levels are usually chock-full with varying enemies, many of which house their own movement and attack patterns. Sussing out what tactics you need to unleash is relatively easy, but the game does make a habit of throwing everyone and their dog at you, forcing you to constantly tread with care, precision, and attention.
Each level stands out as unique and distinct, and all are equally as commendable as the next. There’s a nice blend of combat, puzzle work, and platforming throughout, with some clever mechanics thrown in to lend the game a degree of depth and innovation. One level, for instance, sees you gathering fireflies to ensure that you’re surrounded by light. Should you let the light extinguish, the level’s enemies will close in on you and kill you immediately. It’s all rather well set, and does well at keeping the game from feeling overly repetitive.
Furwind has quite a few functions to lean on, with new capabilities thrown in at a decent pace. Furwind can attack with his tail, and ground slam. Though, soon after the initial stages of play, you’ll be able to chuck bombs and dash in mid-air; handy for getting into hard to reach areas that are otherwise inaccessible. There’s more besides, and collectively, they make up for the bulk of the game’s weight. Unfortunately, mind, Furwind isn’t without fault. First and foremost, the controls are quite clunky, which leads to bouts of unfair failures.
Whilst the game’s platforming sections are well designed, Furwind’s lack of precision can lead to moments of frustration; be it through missing a jump, or, something as daft as the controls infrequently failing to respond to a command. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but still, a good platformer knows that fluidity in handling is paramount, so it was a shame to see some lack of refinement on this front here. One other gripe is that there’s cheap deaths, most of which coming from enemies that bump you into death traps.
Once again, hardly a deal breaker, but knowing that I lost because I was pushed into lava and had no way of avoiding a demise, was irritating. With that to the side, there’s little else to scoff at here. The game does a great job at keeping you motivated and alert, and seems to always put its mechanics to great use through a mixture of combat and environmental puzzle design. Sure, the puzzles are not the deepest of brain teasers, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that I found myself stumped on more than one occasion during play.
I quite enjoyed the simplicity of the boss encounters, being that most of them require little more than some plain old fisticuffs, but come with attacks that require utmost accuracy to avoid and return damage. Sadly, the issue with the controls can lead to some unneeded punishment here, but by the time you’ve made it to the first boss, you’ll likely have a handle on that regardless. The game utilizes a fairly lenient checkpoint system, but there’s some risk vs reward implemented to give the game an extra kick, and it all revolves around cash.
You see, each level is full of gems that you can collect. These gems can be spent on activating a checkpoint, ensuring that should you die, you’ll have a safe haven to return to. However, you’ll also need gems to spend over in Korvo’s Mystic Shop, which is accessible from the world map. Korvo sells a range of goods that bolster your capabilities along the way, and his goods are all considerably costly. Spend on checkpoints and you’ll come out of a level with little to show for, but, if you don’t spend, and die, you start a level from scratch.
I found that it was imperative to save as much money as possible to improve Furwind’s capabilities. From Korvo, you can buy goods that increase your health, increase your stamina (useful given that attacks will deplete your stamina – leaving you open until recharged), increase your flight, and more besides. Each can be upgraded numerous times, with the cost rising per-upgrade as expected. It’s a simple, but effective system. Naturally, you’ll find the game getting much tougher deeper in, making these purchases a must.
When all is said and done, whilst hardly revolutionary, Furwind is well worth your time, especially if you’ve a love for this sort of game. I’ve plugged in quite a lot of time, and cant see myself putting it down any time soon. It’s one of those games that sees you donning the “one more go” mindset, and thanks to how well developed the game is, despite its few issues, it never feels like a chore. It’s deep enough, and diverse enough to stand out, and amidst many of its peers, it does so whilst feeling welcoming, and challenging, at once.
It helps, of course, that the game looks and sounds great. The game is packed with diverse locations, all of which are well detailed and well designed throughout. Everything from its traditional forest levels, right through to its temple-like levels are enticing. The sheer differences from level to level keeps visual repetition at bay, with a wonderful soundtrack and some sharp audio cues elevating things further. The bottom line? If you’re looking for your next platforming fix, Furwind is as good a choice as many of its contemporaries.
Putting its slightly awkward handling and its tendency of dishing out cheap deaths to the side, Furwind goes on to get a lot more right than it gets wrong. The game sports quite a commendable amount of variation across its levels, its enemies, and its mechanics, and blends in a solid pace to keep things grounded, challenging, and fun. This may well not be the most sophisticated of platformers, but it does indeed provide a worthwhile adventure.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.