I’m a huge fan of top down twin stick shooters. Add a little fast paced, bullet-hell gameplay to the mix and you’d be on the right tracks to filling my insatiable desire to find my next indie gem. Feral Fury is a game that has all the basic ingredients to be one such game, but to be a true great you need a little more than fast paced gameplay and twin stick action. Is it the next great game we should all be playing, or does it fall short of the mark?
If i was asked what animal I think would take over the world long after man had perished, I’d probably say something like an ape, not a panda. But it seems my pre-judgement – that which is based entirely on the Planet of the Apes franchise – could not be more wrong. You see, it seems pandas might just rule after all, or at least that’s what Feral Fury wants you to believe.
The story behind Feral Fury goes something like this – long after man has perished in the flames of the oil wars, the great panda empire has risen and expanded. Armed forces have formed and with pandas now spread far throughout the galaxy as the dominant power, and the old world in ashes, the endless need for bamboo is at an all-time high. Entire planets have been turned into plantations to fill the need, but a new war is beginning.
Or at least that’s what I believe to be the story. If instead you were to go entirely by the opening video however, you’d probably take from it nothing more than a tale about a bunch of scarily over-powered pandas, each packing some serious firepower, and heading out to get whatever the hell they want with a rather narked look on their face. But hey I’m no panda expert.
Although I can’t profess to fully understanding the idea of the game’s story, what I can tell you is that you take on the role of a panda marine through a story containing five chapters, and fifteen different procedurally generated stages. Fortunately, Feral Fury is a game that doesn’t require a full understanding of the story, which is great, as after the already limited opening cut-scene there isn’t much more in the way of story going forward. Instead the real focus of Feral Fury comes from its fast and frantic gameplay. Luckily due to the great concentration required to reach the end, the lack of story isn’t too much of an issue – although it would certainly have been nice to see something a little more focused from the narrative.
As for the gameplay, Feral Fury is a top down, twin stick shooter that combines heavy rogue-lite action with a bullet-hell style of play. There are a couple of different game modes for players to choose from; Story Mode, Daily Run and an unlockable Curse Mode. Unfortunately, other than a mention within the game’s achievement list, there is no real explanation as to just how you unlock the Curse Mode, but with Feral Fury already proving a naturally difficult adventure, that may not be something many players will need to worry about.
Whether you play Story Mode or Daily Run, the idea of the game is very similar. Story Mode challenges players to make their way through four chapters (five on hard difficulty) of progressively difficult stages. Each of the randomly generated levels consist of a number of different interconnecting rooms, and tasks players with navigating through each of them, killing all of the enemies within until you find the Red Keycard that can be used to exit the level and progress to the next. After entering a new room, players must kill all enemies to continue forward but with most opponents firing a barrage of bullets in your direction in mere seconds, getting out of the way in time is easier said than done.
Of course, not every room is an enemy infested hell, and provided you’ve got a lucky run, some rooms you come across will be filled with crates potentially filled with buffs, destructible walls harbouring secret rooms, and vending machines. If you’re really lucky you’ll find merchants, ready to help with mid-level weapon changes and perks – for a price of course.
Whilst taking many popular features from the rogue-lite genre, Feral Fury also comes complete with permadeath, meaning the slightest mistake can quickly see you heading back to the main menu to start over. Fortunately, even when progress is lost, one thing that players do keep are the Blue Orbs collected during a level. Blue Orbs are dropped by enemies and can be used in the upgrade menu to buy temporary and permanent upgrades, all in order to help make that next run a little easier.
Daily Run, whilst very similar, does have a few changes that will likely keep players coming back. First up is the leaderboard. As you can probably guess from the name, Daily Run is a challenge mode that sets a new randomly generated run for players to master every day. One of the twists with this is that unlike when playing through the story, players are given three random items, and one random curse that will harm you. This is where a true test of skill is required as the difficulty ramps up once more. Progressing to new rooms adds to your overall score, however the longer you take, the more your score is lowered, meaning those wanting to top the leaderboard will want to conjure up their best speedrunning skills for this one.
Unfortunately, even though the gameplay doesn’t have any major issues to speak of, Feral Fury isn’t quite the perfect gem it could be.
One thing that becomes apparent early on is the lack of enemy variety found within the game. Now I’m not someone who expects hundreds of different enemies to be coming all at once, but when you find yourself playing through for the eighth or ninth run, you have to expect to at least see a fair variety of enemies and this is one place Feral Fury falls short. The other slight irritation is just how similar the majority of the areas look. Each stage does have its differences, but it would have been nice to see locations that felt entirely new rather than something that feels like a rehashed version of previous levels.
Although that may sound critical, it’s fair to say Feral Fury isn’t by any means a bad game, and anyone looking for a new top down shooter would be wise to give this cracking little indie a go. Is it the best of the genre? No, but it’s still a welcome addition with a terrific challenge on offer for those hardcore players out there.
If you haven’t gathered by now, Feral Fury is exactly what you should expect to find if you were to cross indie sensation The Binding of Isaac, with cult hit Ziggurat before adding a touch of the old school original Doom titles. Unfortunately, whilst there are indeed clear signs of classic inspiration, Feral Fury has a few little imperfections that stop this little indie shooter from truly blossoming into one of the finest games on the market. Nevertheless, it’s still a game well worth your attention and if you’re a fan of top down twin stick shooters, then there is no reason why this one shouldn’t be on your radar.