While many indie games today decide to go retro and channel Mario and Sonic games in terms of powers and layouts, not every game can be a hit. Some games try and incorporate too many modern things, and some are almost carbon copies with little to no innovation. Fenix Furia is a curious mix. Some parts are too old-fashioned, some are too modern for an older style game and some hit the just the right notes. And overall? Well, let's begin with the story.
The titular hero, Fenix, is having a bad day as his village has just exploded. Only he and the evil looking Oktarus survive. To find out what happened, Fenix goes after him and goes after him level after level. It's not the most complex story in the world, but the motivation is enough. Like Mario, it doesn't need a big story to carry it, and the story works well.
The graphics are retro and do look like they are from circa 1991. But there's one important difference: the colors. My God, the color palette is incredible. It's like an LA or Miami sunset in some places, while in others light blues mix in with other bright colors. If this game came out in an arcade the colors would have influenced a whole slew of games. After an era of games that had a dark, gritty color palette, a back-to-basics colorfest is great.
There's only a few controls – jump, run and where to go. The timing and controls in the gameplay curves from simple to very hard within a few cycles. It took me a few deaths to figure out the running and jumping dynamic, but once I got past that it was fine – it was the difficulty that was punishing. To that end it makes you really want to finish it. But at the same time it doesn't lead to varied gameplay. The difficulty curve is mostly due to more and more enemies. It's like if a Mario level called itself a later level when in reality it was a copy and paste of an earlier level but with double the number of enemies. It didn't ruin the game, but it felt a little off.
Music and sound wise the game is a little hit or miss too. The music is 80's beats meets early 90's video games and it works. I played the game for hours and never got tired of it. It's like the Pokemon battle loop – it's just too exciting and good. Sounds are ok. They don't change them up, but they always react when they hit or move. Picking up some objects can be distracting – particularly grabbing the 'cookies' on each level and their weird “ping” sound. So, overall, not bad.
Playing through, I didn't experience many glitches or lag issues. It was WAY challenging at times. A few times I thought I hit the jump button only for Fenix NOT doing that, and at times, your character kinda floats down instead of straight plummeting. But those seemed natural instead of being a mistake. Overall, it performs well.
Fenix Furia takes it's influence from many games of the sidescrolling years, and just from keeping the simplicity and fun of the era, it's great. It's worth a look for the colors and style alone. The difficulty curve is a major turn off, and after awhile, it becomes almost the same. Fans of retro sidescrollers will love this, and anybody looking for a really hard game will love this too. There are faults here, sometimes detracting from the enjoyment of it, but the style and play alone makes the game.
Final score 8.3 out of 10