Fenix Furia (formerly Fenix Rage) is a challenging platforming game, but one that manages to remix things a bit. Some retro games aim for period accuracy with tight pixels and snappy controls. At the same time, they often play it relatively safe, rarely taking chances to try to be boldly different.
Well, the story is minimal and to the point, starting off by introducing Fenix witnessing the destruction of his village. From the ashes of destruction, Fenix sees his Oktarus taunting him, and this drives Fenix to rage, marking the beginning of his journey. The rules of Fenix Furia are simple: get to the exit using precise moves like ground/air dashes and Flappy Bird-like flight while trying not to die on the way to there. The first few tutorial levels introduce these concepts before adding enemies to the mix. Collectible cookies that can be earned, and there is a timed red block in each level leading to a secret retro stage that almost gives a nod to the flat graphic style of old Atari games. A boss challenges Fenix to a fight to the death at the end of each world, and it’s up to the player to use the skills learned in previous levels to defeat them. So, does all this make for a game that tows the line of going bold or one that, like so many other retro revival platformers, falls short of stepping outside of the box?
Here’s what I liked:
A refreshing remix — Similar games such as Super Meat Boy and Dustforce are proud to show off their sharp pixel style homages to vintage platforming games of yesteryear. Fenix Furia, however, remixes things with hand-drawn characters and backgrounds that almost scream Saturday morning cartoon, which is lovely. While most retro platformers emphasize the player must dedicate their skill to a one-size-fits-all difficulty, Fenix Furia offers a standard difficulty, an easy difficulty, and two additional harder difficulties for the ultimate platforming game fanatic. The easy difficulty provides an extra life — allowing players to be hit twice before restarting a level — and eliminates the stopwatch. The normal and hard difficulties task the player with challenging their times to be hyper efficient for gold stars, which can be used to purchase mini-games from the in-game arcade menu. The Xbox One release also introduces a two-player mode that splits the screen in half, allowing players to flaunt their skills to gain bragging rights for who can beat a level fastest. The versatile difficulties and refreshing art direction make for a game that welcomes newcomers in addition to putting forth a meaty challenge for die-hard players. The cookies are a sweet (literally) bonus because if the player collects all of the cookies in a world, they are rewarded with a recipe for a type of cookie in the Extras menu.
Solid mechanics meets fair gameplay — I’m not the most skilled at platforming games, but I do enjoy this game from how creative some of the levels get with respect to how much they push the player to think outside of the box while using the skills available to Fenix. Later levels introduce concepts like lava walls (ride along them to heat up), ice walls (breakable by a heated-up Fenix) and teleporters that will put players to task on making the most out of figuring out the fastest ways to beat a level. Like other platforming challenge games, Fenix Furia wouldn’t be a challenge without having the death counter get a few clicks on the board every once in awhile. There may be a few occasions that the player may just need to pause the game, take a break and regroup their thoughts to beat a level. However tough some levels may be, Fenix Furia is pretty fair when it comes to what causes your death, and sometimes players will have to come to terms with the fact that their deaths are ultimately a result of their own skill, or lack thereof.
What I didn’t like:
Content is light and dependent on player skill — While Fenix Furia‘s mechanics are solid, I am far from an ace player and was unable to beat some of the levels on normal difficulty at the fastest times and with no deaths. Normal and higher difficulties award the player with gold stars that can then be used to purchase bonus games in the arcade section of the game. Add to the fact that there are 20 levels per world and — in almost every level — there is a hidden retro level available to players who can reach it fast enough, the content before mini-games is a little on the light side. Players who aren’t skilled enough to ace the normal challenges under the par time and without deaths may never be able to experience some of the extra game locked in the arcade mode. Fenix Furia is a game that definitely emphasizes that ultimate skill will be rewarded, but that also means it is up to the player to take the initiative to become skilled, to practice, practice, practice if they want to earn the stars needed to buy the locked arcade games. Add in that the levels are bite-sized compared to other games in the challenging platformer genre and some players may feel the game is a bit light on offered content.
Practice and mastery may be required — As much as it is a pain to talk about this point, games like Fenix Furia emphasize that the player’s mastery of movement is absolutely essential. If you’re not supremely skilled, then you may need occasional breaks to clear the mind enough to see a better path to the end of a tough level. Perseverance to stick it out to the bitter end is definitely required to get through some of the toughest challenges. If the idea of having to put in time to practice and maybe master a game seem a little off-putting, Fenix Furia may not be a good fit for you.
Fenix Furia is a breath of fresh air to the challenging platformer scene. It mixes in its unique cartoon aesthetic and scaleable difficulty to welcome players of various skill levels, and it merges those elements with air-tight controls. While the game is a challenge, it’s also quite fair about that challenge while pushing the player to constantly strive to learn and find ways to apply their skills in ways never thought of before. If you’re up for a challenge and possibly up for the idea of being pushed harder throughout a game, the value could be relatively great despite Green Lava Studios’ platformer being a little light on content. The challenge level is difficult but fair, and deaths are rarely attributed to a glitch or a flawed level design. If those points sound great, Fenix Furia would be a great purchase for you.
Score: Reader’s Choice
Fenix Furia was developed by Green Lava Studios and published by Reverb Triple XP. It was released on June 8, 2016 for $14.99. A copy of the game was provided by Reverb Triple XP for review purposes.