I don’t care what people think and I don’t care what people say, Kinect is a great addition to Xbox One. Whether it’s for simple voice control, the chance to tear around the living room with limbs flailing, or just as a companion when all human life fails, you’ll never find me complaining about the little black box sat atop my TV.
But, motion tracking technology can only be as good as the games which utilise it. Thankfully though there are a few developers and games creators who think the same way as me. One of which is obviously the team at Through Games, the creative minds behind FRU. Because after six years of Kinect, three of which have been on Xbox One, it’s now got another title to rival the brilliant Fantasia: Music Evolved. Finally.
In fact, FRU is one of the most unique, clever, well designed Kinect titles on the market. But there is a downside… you need a friend. And you need good communication.
That’s not to say you can’t play FRU alone. You can. But holding a controller with one hand, trying to navigate your strange little character along levels created by your own body is just too much of a ball-ache. Believe me when I tell you, it’s really not worth the hassle and if that is the way FRU was meant to be played, then unfortunately it doesn’t work.
However, should you be able to grab a friend, it works amazingly as a local cooperative title. I’d go as far to say it is the ultimate local cooperative title currently available on Xbox One. With one person holding the controller, and another moving around the living room like a possessed thing, communication is completely key to success. But should you have that communication, you will find the FRU is the best controller / Kinect hybrid on the market. Yes, I know there aren’t a lot of them, but this is still the best yet.
It works quite simply. One person takes charge of a strange female character who is on the quest for her crown. They are tasked with moving them across numerous screens in order to reach the end of the stage. Moving left and right, jumping at the correct moment is the easy part and the controls are super simple, precise and work every single time with no issues. The trickier bits however are left to the partner in crime.
You see, whilst this is all going on, the other player is left to pull all manner of shapes, contorting their body so that the silhouette on screen creates a path forward. Depending on the stage at hand, their silhouette may create a basic platform, or at may unveil moving platforms, or disclose fire filed pools. It may also be used to trigger further switches which turn on and off even more game changers. The best feature of the lot though is the ability to send your character swimming through your silhouette, seeing both players working as one to ensure success. Yet again, it’s a simple element but one that works brilliantly and it’s great fun to jump in and out of the ‘pool’ in order to solve the puzzles that are placed in front of you.
It works fabulously with the more supple one being pushed to get their body into positions which they probably never even realised they could put it in. It’s not a big workout in the sense of fitness, but you’ll still need to be fairly flexible in order to prevail.
Things wouldn’t work however without some well designed stages and these are exactly what are in place with FRU. Admittedly most will only have one or two routes to success, but the variety comes about from the silhouettes that are created and how they affect each element of each stage. Occasionally you’ll find the odd level that has multiple ways through too, especially the ones which house the hidden collectable golden masks and so if you fancy mixing things up a little, or just going back to check out various ways of completion, then you can do.
Yes there are times when the technology itself lets things down, but that’s not FRU’s fault, for it is just making the most of what is available to it. Thankfully though, these are few and far between and as long as you’ve got a fairly clear play space, one bereft of kids, dogs and other obstacles and Kinect has been calibrated correctly, the chosen one will be picked up well, bringing a decent consistency to your gameplay.
FRU has been an absolute delight to play through and chances are there is enough draw to make you want to go back through the stages once more in order to pick up all the collectable masks. Should you do so, you’ll unlock the special co-op bonus mode for a bit more fun and games. The ‘story’, if you can call it that, is neither here nor there but should you be looking for such a thing, will have some little bits and bobs to check out. It does at least get you thinking. If I’m honest though, it isn’t really needed, but I understand why it has been put in.
It may not be a long game – and thankfully so, because holding certain positions for any length of time may cause pain – but If you just want to fire your way through all 110 levels and the four areas in one go, or across multiple plays, then it delivers the goods. At least for a night or two. If you’re one of those speed demons who get their kicks by smashing their way through in the quickest time possible, then the 40 minutes par time that is in place for those achievement hunters should also be a draw.
If you’re seriously considering dusting off Kinect and are looking for a new game that will see you make the most of the technology in hand, or are a fan of Kinect and want to add to your library, then you can’t go wrong with this.
In fact, if you only buy one Kinect title this year, buy FRU.