Maybe the top-down roguelike twin-stick shooter is getting to be too much now. The content and the name.
I could probably name 100 off the top of my head, and maybe another 200 after that. I personally think the genre was topped with Neurovoider, Flying Oak Games’ perfection of the genre. It had everything. Punchy combat, an immense soundtrack, a dense and detailed art style, and it was just a blast to play. Does Feral Fury hold up a candle to the king? Well, no, but it comes closer than most contenders.
Feral Fury comes to us from Skandivania Games, whose existence is as confusing as the concept itself, which we’ll get to. With only a small profile on itch.io and a smaller website promoting todays’ title, Feral Fury popped up out of nowhere, with a hard-set release date of next week, at the time of this writing. Nevertheless, let us go through this weird, weird game.
The plot is somewhat similar to Quake 2, and I’m not joking, it’s just endangered animals instead of humans. In the future, humans are extinct and pandas are now populating the earth. However, wild boars and mechanized variations of house bugs threaten the peaceful nature of the panda, and now they’ve got to suit up in Gears of War like armour in order to keep that peace. Just.. What the fu-
Regardless, it’s a twin-stick roguelike, the kind you’ve seen before, but with attention to detail in some of the right places. Of all the top dogs, it’s most reminiscent of is The Binding of Issac, Edmund McMillens’ seminal hit, with a few twists on the formula. For example, Feral Fury is a lot more generous to the player.
Damage output with your starting weapon is awful, but the game hands out free weapons like it’s Christmas at Cartmans’ house, so you’ll be knee deep in blood and bullets before the end of the first stage. The enemy density isn’t nearly as huge as its predecessors, but that goes hand in hand with the damage output complaint.
Another confusing inclusion is aim assist, and its existence is just silly. You can turn it off with a simple button press, but I beg the question, “why is it here in the first place”? This doesn’t make it a test of skill, you can easily just snipe your enemies from behind an indestructible box, unless they throw grenades, which are the bane of my existence.
In all actuality, the aim assist does tend to get you into trouble a lot more frequently than you think. Sometimes there will be a chance for an environmental kill clear out, but the enemies will be crowding around it, like they’re looking for something. Most of the time you’ll just be circle strafing around an incredibly claustrophobic room, hoping you get some form of critical hit.
There are two things that I will praise Feral Fury to the sun and back for. One is that there’s no cryptic nonsense items, the problem that plagued The Binding Of Issac, where you’d find what looks like a promising item but it’ll either screw you over, or can only be used in one specific area or time. There’s less item variety here, but there’s more of a focus on making sure that every item does something useful.
The other fantastic addition is the repercussions of the benefits. Every once in a while, you’ll come across a stat upgrade room, or a store, and they offer a well-balanced pros and cons affair. If you use a stat upgrade room, you’ll deal more damage, become faster in combat, and become luckier with your treasure hunting, but you’ll be weaker and more battle-weary than before. The stores are also able to be robbed, which is a gamble, at best. You get a maximum of 3 free items, but you’ll no longer be able to use the store in your play through.
Really, Feral.. Has the feel, the charm and the weight of a roguelike to carry it up amongst the others that kneel before Neurovoiders’ throne. Enter The Gungeon, ..Issac, Geometry Wars, it’s got the chutzpah to go forward and reign supreme. But there’s issues that I cannot glance over, like the feel of the game itself, which sort of betrays everything Skandivania has built up.
I personally believe the gimmick of the game was supposed to have been ultra-violence, but with these cute-cuddly animals. The sort of thing that would make PETA roll around in their underwear as they continue culling dogs for no reason. However, Skandivania show a lot of restraint and I’d say it hurts the game somewhat. The intro and main menu imply DOOM but with Pandaguy instead of Doomguy, and instead you get what looks like a spiritual successor to the flash game Thing Thing Arena, albeit incredibly muted.
The guns have the brawn to elevate gameplay, but battles are cleaner than you’d think. The music is all chippy and poppy techno, but with no bite or soul. The music itself is one of the more frustrating parts because the audio mixing is so overdone, that bullets and explosions drown it out completely, even when you do mess around with the audio options. Your best bet is putting on Mick Gordons’ fantastic DOOM ’16 soundtrack in order to keep that atmosphere.
And the grenades themselves can get lost. Every explosion brings out a parade of bullets along with it. Which means that not only do you have to dodge-roll an explosion that takes up an eighth of the screen, but you also have to make sure the bullets aren’t in your predicted path. Why couldn’t it just be the explosion? The enemies explode as well, why isn’t that enough of a threat?
Aside from the obligatory “Daily Run” mode, Feral Fury shows its hand and it’s a Three of a kind, against a royal flush. Feral Fury comes so close to being a fantastic experience, but falls near the finish line. There’s enough of a game here to recommend, but the look of the game was a massive turn-off for me. One that doesn’t necessarily mean the game will be lost forever, but it’ll probably a game that you burn through in a weekend.
Here’s to the future, Skandivania. You’ve got a mostly impressive debut here and hopefully, you can survive the Second Release Syndrome.
A pretty dumb buckshot of fun, that fails to live up to what you would expect.