Furwind

A game by Boomfire Games for PC, originally released in 2018.
Furwind is a colorful platformer starring a fox, who carries the unlikely name of Furwind, as he embarks on a journey to save the people of Moontail village from a villain known as Darhûn. Moontail was once under the protection of four ancient beings, but one day Darhûn, the strongest of the ancients, decided to rise up and overthrow the others… but in the end, he was defeated and locked away. A thousand years have passed since that time, and a Darhûn-worshipping cult has decided to free him from his imprisonment and loose him on the world.


Furwind, serving as the chosen hero of the land, rises up to put a stop to all of this, venturing out into the surrounding forest, defeating monsters, rescuing imprisoned villagers, and reawakening the spirits of the other three ancients to gain new abilities. Along the way, he earns money to purchase upgrades and slowly opens up new sections of the forest to explore.


Furwind has a 2x variable jump, with an additional 1x added by way of a double jump, and pressing DOWN while in midair causes Furwind to slam downward and damage enemies below him, and this move is also used to break through wooden platforms. Furwind’s primary attack is the ability to sweep his tail to the left or right to hit enemies or break boxes at a short range, but doing so drains a stamina meter that refills over time. Once the meter is drained, he is unable to attack until the meter refills past a designated threshold.


There is nothing in the design that supports this stamina-driven attack system, as most standard enemies are spread out enough that the player never runs out of stamina, and boss creatures (along with some standard enemies) enter a state of temporary invincibility after being attacked, preventing the player from mashing the ATTACK button to deliver rapid strikes. In practice, the stamina limitation serves only to leave the player defenseless during the few occasions where he does find himself overwhelmed by enemies, or requires the player to stand around doing nothing while the meter refills.


Otherwise, the stamina system simply acts an excuse to spend money on an upgrade to extend the stamina meter to prevent the fox from becoming useless at the worst possible times. Furthermore, aside from the stamina meter at the top of the screen, there is no visual or aural cue to inform players that stamina has been depleted, so players are likely to press the ATTACK button and watch as their onscreen avatar does nothing while enemies move in to attack. Given the short attack range of the tail sweep, there isn’t much room for error, so it's possible to miss your intended target and find yourself unable to follow up with another strike.


Players also have the ability to toss purple acorns that roll along the ground and destroy specially marked stone blocks. They roll quite far before exploding, and they bounce off solid objects, so it takes practice to use them effectively. Destructible blocks are difficult to spot due to their visual similarity to other stone blocks, so players must often look for other clues in the environment, such as caches of coins floating in otherwise unreachable areas. The player can only carry three acorns at once (refilled by collecting drops from killed enemies or broken objects), and their use is almost entirely optional, but observant players can uncover additional treasures. There are also some dedicated challenge areas (more on these in a bit), and at least one of these requires the player to make careful use of his three acorns, rolling and bouncing them through the area to open the path forward.


Levels are littered with coins, and killed enemies drop coins or health-restoring hearts. At the start of the game, the player has only three units of health, despite the health meter having six slots, and collecting additional hearts does not grant health beyond these three units. However, early into the game, the player rescues a character who opens a shop outside of Moontail village in which the player may purchase upgrades with his collected coins. Upgrades include increased health and stamina, as well as an increased likelihood of enemies dropping acorns when killed. Later, once the player has earned new abilities, the shop offers minor upgrades for these abilities as well.


Money is also the primary driver behind the game’s checkpoint system, as activating a checkpoint costs a certain amount of money. Each checkpoint activated within a level carries an increased cost, preventing players from relying on them too much, as they lose money that could otherwise be spent on upgrades, and checkpoints can eventually become too expensive to afford. That said, there are several areas where you can be killed instantly, such as in bottomless pits or lava, so it’s possible to lose a lot of progress if you skip checkpoints altogether. However, you can replay previous levels to farm for money if you like.


The game’s main levels are largely nonlinear, allowing players to go off in any direction they choose. The main levels each have two miniboss creatures – the same miniboss is used for each – that must be defeated in order to open the exit. Since the player is left to choose his own path, he will often find the exit before he finds and defeats both of the minibosses, so he must keep track of where he has been so he can retrace his steps and determine when to use checkpoints. This is made easier by the fact that most enemies do not reappear, and collected coins are removed from the level, but getting killed and respawning causes them to reappear in the level.


Early levels are smaller and allow for easier navigation, but they get larger and more complex as the game goes on, and the difficulty really ramps up toward the end of the game. There’s good deal of variety between the levels, with a mixture of forests, darkened caves, and lava towers, but the entire game takes place in the same forest, and environments are repeated across the game’s three chapters. As such, players will experience the same themed environments multiple times and mostly face off against stronger versions of previous enemies.


Minibosses are re-used throughout the game, but they gain new attacks in later levels to add a bit of variety. It may take a couple of attempts to learn minibosses’ behaviors, but checkpoints generally appear just before these encounters, and facing them multiple times makes them less threatening as the game goes on. Each chapter also ends in a tougher boss encounter against a unique enemy. Boss behaviors aren’t terribly complex but they take a ton of damage before going down, so battles are lengthy and players may find their health whittled down while attempting to get in close to deliver their melee attacks.


Forest levels offer traditional pastoral platforming challenges with a mix of jumping and fighting enemies, with plenty of coins to collect along the way. Lava towers are a bit more difficult as they require mostly vertical movement with small platforms, switches to temporarily activate floating platforms, and insta-death lava pits. These areas have no minibosses but rather offer short Simon Says-style minigames in rooms that regularly dispense bouncing fireballs.


The caverns are the toughest of the bunch, as the player’s view is limited by darkness, and this view is only expanded by gathering fireflies. Unfortunately, these fireflies disappear one at a time as long as the player is in the dark, and if they’re all lost, the player is killed as the red blinking eyes in the darkness swarm his position.


Each chapter also features a chase sequence where a black wall moves in from the left side of the screen, with shadowy arms reaching out toward Furwind. Players must move quickly across small platforms, outrunning the wall and dodging hazards along the way. There are no checkpoints in these sequences, and a single misstep can send you falling off the bottom of the screen and respawning at the beginning of the level. Platforming veterans can expect to clear early versions of these challenges in a few attempts – as long as they don’t accidentally press DOWN during a jump and butt-stomp themselves off the bottom of the screen – but they may act as a stumbling block for less skilled players given that they are less forgiving than other levels, and these chase sequences grow increasingly difficult across the game's three acts.


Completing a chase sequence grants the player a new ability, the first of which is an air dash. Unfortunately, level designs don’t take advantage of this new skill, as it is limited to one use per level - upgradeable to three uses per level - unless the player grabs pickups to use it again. Some of the optional challenge areas require these abilities, and they can also be used to reach out-of-the-way scrolls, but the player is never required to use these special abilities during the main series of levels, so gameplay never grows more complex.


Even more disappointing is the second ability upgrade, which is a health-restoring spell that has no effect on gameplay other than allowing the player to take slightly more damage. Lastly, there’s a projectile attack in the form of a purple ball of magic that seeks out enemies, which is similarly limited in its number of uses.


Each of the main levels also contains two scrolls, which are located in out-of-the-way areas, and these scrolls unlock optional challenge areas. Challenge areas come in two forms: rescue missions and orb destruction challenges. Rescue missions drop the player into a single-screen arena that is filled with enemy characters, and a caged NPC appears at the top of the screen. By killing all of the enemies, the NPC is freed. The first freed NPC is a bird who sets up shop outside of town, while the rest are foxes who simply thank you for rescuing them.


The orb destruction missions are a bit more difficult and are often more puzzle-centric. In these areas, the exit is blocked by a barrier, which can only be destroyed by finding a red orb elsewhere in the environment and destroying it. These environments are often packed with enemies, but some require expert platforming skills or use of special moves in order to complete. All of these levels are displayed on the map screen, and the player may enter any unlocked area (or skip them if he likes), but the main levels must be completed in order.



2D CRED
Furwind was developed by Boomfire Games, a studio based in Córdoba, Spain and founded in 2015. The studio is headed by artist and designer Ignacio Castiñeyra, with programming by Jose M. Torrent, level design by Pedro Moreno, and music by Fran Romguer. The studio previously developed Kick or Die, a martial arts game released for mobile devices.


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