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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Furi and Song of the Deep.

Transcript Edit

July remains a rich month for indie games, cause if you want to snack yourself some of that AAA dragon's worth of plunder, probably best to do it when the dragon's all tired out from fucking me up the arse.

So let's take a look at Furi, a game as unique as it is bad at spelling. I say unique, it very strongly reminds me of games like No More Heroes, Lollipop Chainsaw, God Hand and the like, but it's got no retro pixel art, no procedural generation and large headed children don't get within seven leagues of a scary world, which in the day's indie circles makes it jump out like a tarantula in a filing cabinet.

You play a mute albino Bob Marley lookalike, who everyone refers to as "Stranger", we never find out what his last name is though, probably Thanfiction or Zinthenite. As the game opens, you're being held at the top of a magic space prison and in order to escape you must confront a series of colorful jailers and show them the true meaning of stranger danger. Along the way we learn bits and pieces about who we are and the nature of our impediment, from enigmatic things said by our enemies and by an omnipresent pink man with the head of a cartoon rabbit, who might not be real. It reminds me of that time I took ketamine right before a job interview.

The initial thought from which Furi seems to have been developed is this: what if you took No More Heroes and cut out everything but the boss fights and crazy weirdos? Well, first of all you'd have a fucking short game, but you'd also not have wasted hours of your life running down corridors murdering hundreds of random extras that are as much a threat to you as a breadstick is to an industrial fan and shopping for t-shirts. And we'd now have all those hours spared to do something constructive, like stare at a wall or try to remember all the number one hits of the Spice Girls.

Furi would suggest perhaps you could use the time you saved to walk very slowly through some very pretty landscapes it designed while the rabbit-headed man shows off his impression of Mark Hamill's Joker. I suppose it has to build up antecipation for the next boss fight somehow, but I wouldn't think it was possible for walking slowly along a fixed route to control like shit, it's probably because of the way the camera keeps switching from one crazy artful angle to the next, like my walk down the street to the newsagent is being directed by Alfred Hitchcock. But I guess these bits are vital for the story, in that they leave you confused, rather than completely bewildered.

In the actual fights, you hack and, per chance, slash with you sword, but regardless I'd be loathe to call the game a hack'n'slash for it also has many of the elements of a bullet hell shooter, such as bullets, shooting, and me yelling "Hell! I totally fucking parried that, you asshole game!" The challenge comes from a mixture of pattern memorization, accuracy and pure reflexes, but with varying amounts with each boss to boss, that rather keeps things interesting. But also means that the difficulty curve is all over the fucking place, and more resembles a line graph showing my level of emotion during an average episode of Flipper. The hardest fights were the second and I think it was the seventh, but only because they had more stages than the fucking grieving process, and ended with a prolonged gauntlet hazard that had to be dodged and it's hard to predict if the dodge move would put you where you want, or send you right into a burly sailor carrying two pints of bitter.

The last but one fight is really weirdly easy, but also not quite easy enough to be a subversive joke non-fight, like the one in No More Heroes, and in any case Furi is so short a game that one boss is a significant chunk, and throwing it away for a jokes seems wasteful, like voting for the Libertarians. Furi's combat gets a wee bit parry-centric in the second half, and it won't last you very long if you are a hard games connoisseur, but it's original enough to make it worth giving a chance, you stingy fuck, and that rather puts it in contrast to our second game, Song of the Deep, which probably isn't worth checking out, but if you've ever played Aquaria or Ori and the Blind Forest, then good news! You've already checked out Song of the Deep. I hope that saves you some time, that wall ain't gonna stare at itself.

It's small-child-scary-world, but this time with a storybook approach, similar in tone to Child of Light, but with the godawful poetry replaced by a very earnest sounding narrator with an irish accent, and during the intro sequence a little voice in my head went "Oi, they're always after me Lucky Charms, begorrah!", and I'm ashamed to admit I made myself laugh.

It's the story of a little girl who lives a simple life with her fisherman father, but when he fails to return from the sea one day, she builds a submarine... Okay, I'm not gonna let you gloss over that, Song of the Deep. How does a prepubescent girl, whose education consists of reading the labels on the back of her dad's whiskey bottles, construct a functioning deep submergence vehicle? It's not like a box-cart derby, you silly moo!

Whatever, she goes out to sea to drag her deadbeat dad back from whatever mermaid bordello he's presently drinking dry. It's a Metroidvania game in about the most boring way possible, all parts are locked off until you find a specific upgrade in a fixed linear sequence of upgrades that opens them, so you might as well just follow the objective markers one by one.

Full disclosure, I stopped playing halfway through, cause I encountered a bug, in a narrow passage, which is the worst possible way to experience buggery. I had acquired the ability to leave the sub to explore narrow passages, but one time when I did this the sub somehow glitched inside the passage and I couldn't get it out again, and since I'd found a collectible in the passage, the game very helpfully autosaved over the only save spot available. Which just rather raises the question of why this game has fucking save points if it just gonna save wherever it likes!? Maybe the save points are for refilling your health and energy meters, but WRONG!, your health and energy regenerate anyway, that's probably the gameplay is about as engaging as pissing in the kitchen sink. So after it bugged out, I said to myself "Would I rather restart the game, or spend the afternoon circumcising myself with the edge of a rusty tin?". The fact that I'm debating this at all probably suffices the review.

One thing I did get to see was Generic Boss Fight 36-Gamma, giant spider. Leaving aside the question of what the fuck's a giant spider doing at the bottom of the sea, the answer being not a whole lot, the boss seemed to be having tremendous difficulty at posing any kind of threat. Any time I ventured close, all it could do was wrap me up in web and then let me go, whereby I escaped from all but instantly, it wasn't a fight so much as a mutual mild annoyance.

And I think this encapsulates my main issue which Put Me To Sleep, it feels totally condescending. Between the gameplay that's unchallenging in every sense of the word, and the narrator who talks like a nursery school teacher praising a child for sticking crayons up their nose and sneezing on craft paper. Perhaps that should have been my hint that I'm not the target audience for this game, but cast your eye on the developer: Yes, it's Insomniac Games! Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, Sunset bloody Overdrive! What's a AAA developer doing making 2D small-child-scary-world games!? This isn't Secret Millionaire! That's what's really condescending, that they thought they'd come down from on high, to show the indies how it's done, and made something so insultingly generic. Stick to the likes of Sunset Overdrive, lads. It's easy to stick to cause it's covered in shit.

Addenda Edit

  • Deeply furious: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Alternatively maybe Stranger was the guy's last name and his first name was Fivedaysa
  • The actual song of the deep is Baba O'Riley by The Who
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

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