A race in Fury Unleashed often ends with the fall of you or a boss. This epic fight often comes down to two sides, there is only a little health left. The spoils of victory are obviously bigger than defeat, but even death can be rewarding, as each race potentially unlocks a new weapon, and perhaps enough experience points to level up and improve abilities. Developer Awesome Games Studio has created a balanced roguelike that offers fun run-and-gun action and tough battles that get a little less painful each time you try them out.
Faithful to the Contra and Metal Slug games on which Fury Unleashed is inspired, you bypass scenes filled with enemies, by rotating the analog stick in all directions to open fire. The controls are responsive and fluid, allowing you to quickly rush to new positions and alternate between guns and melee if the enemies get too close. You can even bounce off enemy heads to explode them, shoot grenades at the walls and use special attacks to freeze enemies in place. All this action well done is even better when you play with a friend, which is unfortunately only offered in cooperation on the sofa. If the game seems too difficult, you can always reduce the difficulty. The game is easy to integrate and even easier to lose, given how fun and rewarding it can be.
If you chain kills, you reach combo thresholds that activate abilities that give you an advantage, such as various damage resistances and healing. The whole game takes place in comic book panels in which you fight a random assortment of creatures, humans and machines (most of which die in a few blows, but rare variations of enemies in a red tint play the role of mini-boss). The variety of enemies is a bit light, but I like the way some panels unexpectedly explode, whether it’s Venus fly traps or turrets emerging from the walls to join other enemies.
If you die along the way, you are sent back to the first panel of the comic, but it is different, and each subsequent panel is also reorganized, sometimes bringing better rewards and other enemies sometimes more deadly. A giant boss is waiting for you on the last page, and if you are able to remove it, you switch to a new comic book with an entirely different theme with its own set of opponents. This setup works well for lightning fast games, which is fantastic because you often want to level up or change gears after a race. The comics are linked and organized randomly, so you don’t have to finish a race when you find the last panel; you can always spend more time in a book by coming back to see what’s in each missing sign.
Since the drops of weapons and armor are everywhere, random levels almost always provide satisfactory loot. I may not find the exact weapon I want for each round, but I never find myself sticking with something I don’t like for a long time, and I am also able to pick up a lot of armor along the way. The real challenge is to risk everything by taking on a secondary task entrusted to you by an NPC. They ask you for a lot of things, like using only melee strikes to kill specific enemies or launching yourself through a dangerous glove of obstacles, all for an unknown reward. These challenges create variety in the levels and make each race a little more interesting.
The story of Fury Unleashed is her biggest surprise, as it focuses on the creator of the comic book, who is depressed and creatively lost. His story unfolds through text messages and social media posts that show what he and others think about his work. When the first moment of the story is revealed, it’s a bit of a record moment, but once you understand what’s going on, the story is fascinating to watch. It’s not what you expect from something that looks and plays like Contra.
Like Dead Cells before him, Fury Unleashed is one of those roguelikes that is difficult to eliminate, because you know that the next round will only give you a better shot as you make more progress to unlock new comics, material and, ultimately, a better chance of taking the final boss. It’s great fun whether you’re playing solo or cooperating.