Have you ever thought to yourself what it would be like to live inside a comic book? Okay, you probably haven’t, you’ve most likely indulged in thoughts more along the lines of what it would be like to embody Spider-Man or live the life of Batman. But these translate more into real world scenarios in which you ask how would your life evolve having such power. Fury Unleashed does away with such nonsense and instead gives you the true sensation of living inside the panels of a graphic novel. Much like serial cartoons, Fury Unleashed on the Xbox One is fast, frantic and fun.
Part of the cathartic nature of Fury Unleashed lies in its completely tongue-in-cheek nature to the events unfolding. The world around you is a living comic book of the same titular name, with the creator coming to a creative block after many successful years of Fury Unleashed hitting the shelves. Its meta attitude to its humor conveys in surprising and often hilarious ways that make exploring each level a treat. You’ll be jumping from panel to panel in good old Saturday morning cartoon fashion, embracing the same disposable fun that accompanied said cartoons.
The feeling of pure childhood nostalgia lies within its unique ability to perfectly convey the true feeling of exploring a comic book setting. Each section you visit represents a frame of one of Fury Unleashed’s many issues, complete with the visual style of a classic comic book. It’s this simple pleasure that lends itself to Fury Unleashed’s biggest strength – the art style. It’s a reminder of those much forgotten times as a prepubescent sprog, as you rode your bike to corner shops in the hope of finding the latest issue of your favourite Marvel hero. Fury Unleashed on the Xbox One allows us to re-envision days of a bygone era by completely absorbing us into its world.
The way you navigate each issue is played out in roguelike fashion. You’ll be blasting, smashing and dashing your way through a plethora of comic book panels, like the action heroes of yesteryear. Think Rambo meets Indiana Jones and you’re in the right ballpark. The simple task of Fury Unleashed is to make it through the issues alive. While this premise may strike as being very basic and fundamentally easy, the challenge quickly ramps up as Fury Unleashed shares the same DNA with classic genre-defining games such as Metal Slug and Contra. It also controls like a dream with pitch-perfect platforming precision and satisfying twin-stick gunplay.
Throughout each level, exploration is absolutely vital for survival. Each comic is littered with varying upgrades and enemies blocking your path. Deciding the path to take to the exit and how many panels you explore pushes constant decision making onto the player through life or death situations. Should you push further in the hope to find a tool to regenerate health, or a new weapon to unleash devastating effects? The choice is yours and Fury Unleashed absolutely prides itself on promoting a strong sense of risk and reward to it’s addictive gameplay loop.
A wide amount of variety presents itself within each level as you cautiously push yourself further into the depths of its enriched world. While the majority of frames will offer you intense combat encounters to push past, others provide challenges to engage with, or vicious bosses to take down. Adding a varying degree of gameplay options makes every venture into Fury Unleashed feel fresh. On top of this, each issue is randomly generated with each run, resulting in no two playthroughs being the same. Mixing in challenges that may see you completing platforming segments in an allotted time, or taking down one of the imaginative bosses that are punctuated throughout Fury Unleashed’s world, make each playthrough succession just as engaging as the last.
Additionally, Fury Unleashed incorporates semi-permadeath as you push your way through the challenging gauntlets it throws at you. End up dead and you’ll be forced to restart the whole issue again. Originally this quickly becomes frustrating, clashing at odds with the humorous tone that Fury Unleashed presents. But once the general gameplay loop makes itself evident, the issue is far less prevalent and the true nature behind the system rears its head. Fury Unleashed promotes death. It invites you to push yourself further into its world, and while dying early on or towards the end of a level can be highly aggravating, it’s the primary gameplay hook that keeps you coming back for more and more.
Upon death, you’re able to upgrade your character with the ink you absorb from the characters you put down. This makes taking risks in each level absolutely vital to success. Bulking up your character like Popeye on spinach is where Fury Unleashed will really sink its teeth in. From upgrading your overall health to the amount of ammo you can carry before reloading, it adds to a constant feeling of progression that caters to the feeling of being the Sylvester Stallone of 2020.
Fury Unleashed is a very challenging game. It doesn’t hide that and invites you to embrace the difficulty it offers. On launch you are able to dive into the recommended hard mode, which describes itself as being the true experience. Mirroring this is an easy mode, which offers a significantly lower challenge, but also disables some factors such as achievements. It’s disappointing that a comfortable middle isn’t offered. While most will lovingly embrace the game’s brutal difficulty with open arms, many will be alienated from the experience with no middle group presented to them, especially when Fury Unleashed has such a light-hearted narrative full of wonderful surprises that many will want to see through to the end.
While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Fury Unleashed on Xbox One is a love letter to old school platformers, 80’s action heroes and the truly expressive features of comic books. Adding onto this is the ability to bring a friend along in co-op with a glorious frenzy of bullets. It’s a game that promotes the vision of ‘one more go’ and constantly asks you to push yourself further. It’s disappointing that a suitable middle isn’t presented for players that want the perfect balance of challenge and progression, but those who do settle with the modes at hand will find a lot to love about Fury Unleashed’s brash and brawlish nature.