Title: Fenix Furia
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Developer: Green Lava Studios
Publisher: Reverb Triple XP
Genre: Action, Platformer, Puzzler
Official Site: http://www.fenixrage.com/
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Where to Buy: Xbox Store, PSN, Steam
By the end of my play through of Fenix Furia I died nearly 3,000 times. That’s no hyperbole either. The game originally titled Fenix Rage (For its Steam release) is appropriately named for the emotional response it’s likely to exhibit from it’s less patient players. A platformer in the same spirit as the 2010 indie darling Super Meat Boy, Fenix Furia requires split second reflexes and trial and error experimentation to get through its nearly 200 levels, oh and collect cookies. I hear the game is enjoyed best with a glass of milk.
Tying those 200 levels together (and the hunt for cookies) is a story that barely manages to tell a coherent narrative. Comic book panel-like cutscenes bookend the world transitions in Fenix Furia. These scenes aim to bring a bit of life into why we’re chasing this ice infused doppelganger through an abundance of levels, however, they’re too brief and insubstantial to add anything to the world, narrative, or characters; even the titular Fenix is lacking a personality. They reminded me of the early days of NES and Sega game cutscenes; brief little snippets of pictures with either little to no animation, and some text to try and wring a narrative out of the game. While I wanted something more from the story, I couldn’t help but let these old school cinematics charm their way into my mind, and invigorate feelings of nostalgia for my childhood, a time that was filled with Sega games like Sonic.
Speaking of Sonic, Fenix isn’t too far away from the famed hedgehog and his Sega classic. Both in the character-likeness and gameplay, it’s hard not to see how the old Sega mascot influenced a lot of the genetic makeup of Green Lava Studio’s game. Fenix’s knack for speed might even give Sonic a run for his money. Gameplay in Fenix Furia has players combining infinite dashes and infinite jumps to access the blue box that marks the end of the level. What starts as a simple walk or dash to the end of a corridor, slowly evolves into an orchestra of hazards and environmental puzzles. The game does an absolutely fantastic job of ramping the difficulty up while slowly introducing gameplay twists. Such twists include colored portals that only link to their color, barriers that can only be passed when frozen solid and ice blocks that can only be broken if Fenix is moving fast enough on a red wall to spark a flame. However, my favorite part of Fenix Furia… The boss fights where the players skills are put to a test by the bosses that end each world.
These baddies get the adrenal glands pumping, as well as the curse words flowing. There are a few downsides to the boss fights, unfortunately. The bosses aesthetics are uninspired, and by the third fight you can’t help but feel like the developers ran out of ideas. Also worth mentioning is how the camera becomes a nuisance for the player, as it isn’t zoomed out far enough to give the player visual on the boss location. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is being hit by an off-screen projectile, or to find yourself dashing into the boss because you weren’t spatially aware of its location. With one hit kills, you need all the control you can get. While not without faults I still did find these mostly fun and challenging additions to the Fenix Furia formula. The feeling of beating the bosses and moving onto the next world encapsulates the best moments of Fenix Furia. Those moments being the player triumph.
What could have devolved into a hernia inducing horrible nightmare of a platforming game, is made light by the games encouraging hand. Die on a level? No problem, you’ll be immediately re-spawned at the start of the level. There are no lives, so you’re free to try and try again until it clicks. There’s something alluring about metaphorically bashing your head against a wall, playing the same level over and over, only to have that “ah ha!” moment and dash to victory in less than 10 seconds. Apart from bosses, levels are tiny in Fenix Furia, and it works to encourage that instant replay, try it again, an attitude the game possesses. That in conjunction with the fantastic ramping of difficulty and I can see a lot of people sticking through the challenge. The most important part is you never feel like the game is unfair. The reward of beating a particularly hard level fuels you into the next challenge. While triumph is fantastic fuel to propel you through the game, Fenix Furia has a few other tricks up its sleeve to keep you invested.
While the main game can be beaten in around four hours depending on your player skill there’s plenty more to do in Fenix Furia before you forget about it. In each level, there are cookies to be collected, which can be redeemed for real-life cookie recipes. It’s a nice personal and whimsical touch, that adds some character to the game. Also to be collected are stars that can be obtained by beating the record time in each level. These stars can then be brought to Fenix’s arcade and used to unlock some pretty fun and challenging remixes of the gameplay. They play like an old arcade game, with a high score to beat, and one gameplay goal in mind. Such as collecting as many cookies as you can while dodging enemies. The arcade challenges are simple but fun and add some more replay-ability to the game. Also hidden away in some levels are red boxes, that like the blue boxes that end the level, teleport you to a new location. These locations are new levels with atari-like graphics that once beaten reward the player with another cookie. The console addition of Fenix Furia also has support for two player split screen co-op, and the game works incredibly well with the addition of another player. There are lots of laughs as you’ll both die thousands of times together. The boss fights to become far more manageable in co-op. In addition to the co-op, developers Green Lava Studios also added an Easy mode that enables players to get hit twice instead of the instant death of normal mode.
While the game isn’t without a few garnishes like it’s forgettable soundtrack, uninspired boss design, and an occasionally frustrating camera, there is still a ridiculously rock solid and challenging platformer here. One I would recommend to fans of Super Meat Boy, Sonic, or any old school platformer in a heartbeat. The cherry on top of this cookie is the plethora of content packed into it’s $14.99 price point. Grab a partner and some cookie dough, and get ready to hunt for those recipes, you’ll have a blast.
- Gameplay: Super Meat Boy meets the infinite jumping of Flappy Birds with the speed of Sonic
- Graphics: Solid, but lacks imagination.
- Sound: A largely forgettable soundtrack
- Presentation: A game that looks and feels like a throwback to the old Sega platformers while paying homage to Super Meat Boy
- Fun and challenging
- Plenty of content
- Full of variety
- Lackluster soundtrack
- Forgettable visuals
- A protagonist without a personality
Patrick McQuaid is an aspiring games and film journalist/critic looking to make his mark on the industry. He’s attempting to finish his Communications degree while juggling a variety of responsibilities… it’s proving difficult, but he has some spunk. Don’t give him a beer and ask about Silent Hill 2 in the same action or prepare to have an aggravatingly long chat about how that game transcends the art form.