Fury Unleashed

A game by Awesome Games Studio for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One, originally released in 2020.
Fury Unleashed is a roguelike run-and-gun shooter that takes place across the procedurally generated pages of several comic books. You play as the star of the titular comic book series, and you may select a male or female character to start, with numerous additional visual styles to be unlocked, including several of the non-human variety. The hero – or heroes in local 2P co-op – gets up to all kinds of mayhem in these books, blasting hordes of monsters, witch doctors, Nazi soldiers, war machines, alien beasts, and loads of slime-spewing bosses and minibosses.

The meta-narrative focuses on John Kowalsky, creator of the Fury Unleashed comics, as he begins to lose confidence in his own work, as evidenced by several social media posts and emails that are uncovered throughout the game. However, by leading your comic book hero to victory, you help the series creator regain confidence in his creativity, which results in more enemy drops and health bonuses for you. Translating this to gameplay, your badassery is proven by stringing together lengthy kill combos and completing challenges such as wiping out a certain number of enemies with melee attacks.

Per roguelike conventions, the game is quite challenging, and overall progress is made by diving in, getting killed, and then slowly unlocking new weapons and upgrades to assist you with your next run. However, even with these tweaks, the game still requires that you master the mechanics in order to make much in the way of progress. Get good enough and you’ll find that it’s possible to play through the entire game performing one single gigantic combo… or if your skills are less than superhuman, an easier difficulty mode is available. In Easy mode, enemies have less health and deal less damage, with restoratives granting more health, and you can further adjust these settings – and the game's speed – in the pause menu.

The game takes place across three comic books, which act as the game’s themed areas. The first of these books is entitled Awakening of the Ancient Gods, and it sees you fighting your way through a jungle while battling bugs, man-eating plants, witch doctors, and the gods themselves, which act as the end-level bosses. Next is Operation Crimson Dusk, which sees you infiltrating an underground military installation and fighting various classes of Nazi soldiers, patrolling drones, and even a few tanks. Finally, there’s Earth’s Last Stand, which has you fending off an alien invasion against extraplanetary beings that possess advanced weaponry such as energy shields and lasers. Once you've made your way through all of the comics, there’s a sketchbook that contains the final showdown.

Each book consists of three procedurally generated levels followed by one of three possible boss encounters, and beating the end-level boss allows you to move on to the next book. When you die, you return to the start of the first book. However, defeating all three bosses in a book allows you to skip that book on your next playthrough.

Comic panels define the size of each room, with single screen 1x1 rooms, as well as rooms that extend across two or three panels horizontally or vertically, and there are some larger arena-style rooms that are 2x2 panels. You start in the top left panel and must make it to the lower right panel. However, you are not able to see which panel leads to the next until you enter the next room (unless you manage to find the compass pickup), so the path to the exit is always a mystery… and some routes lead to dead ends. Dead end paths are offset by your ability to warp back to any previously-discovered room entrance, which can be done three times per level (or more with an upgrade). This also helps you to keep combos going by quickly warping back to a unexplored areas, because killed enemies do not respawn.

You are able to move and aim independently, and all weapons are set to auto-fire with infinite ammo, so you’ll be unleashing a steady stream of fury throughout the game. Most weapons require that you reload once their magazines are depleted, but you can also perform a manual reload as needed (although there is no ammo counter, so you’ll have to feel it out). You begin the game with a submachine gun and a katana, but you eventually unlock a shotgun, sniper rifle, and rocket launcher, any of which may be selected for your starting loadout. You also unlock an axe, a mace, and a baseball bat for your starting melee weapons, and you start each run with three grenades, which may be tossed in a straight line in whatever direction you’re aiming.

This weapon set is pretty standard for shooting games, but fortunately, there are plenty of non-standard weapons to find during each run, some of which are found in treasure chests, while others may be purchased for money or by sacrificing health (more on this in a bit), and some are received as a reward for defeating bosses. These weapons include flamethrowers, lasers, nail guns, sawblade launchers, alien swarm blasters, dark energy emitters that leech life out of nearby foes, and even storm-based weapons that freeze or electrify enemies. There are also some harder-hitting melee weapons and a variety of grenade types. In addition, you have a special move that you can perform – the default version freezes onscreen enemies for a bit – and it gets recharged after you kill 20 enemies.

You have a 2x variable jump, which is extended to 4x by way of a double jump, and you can also perform an air dash, making you extremely mobile and allowing you to easily traverse most areas. Performing a dash on the ground allows you to sprint at a high speed with no limit, although this is primarily meant to help you get to enemies and keep your combo going, or to quickly reach enemy drops before they disappear. Finally, you can press DOWN while jumping to perform a stomp, which damages enemies below you… an unusual move for a shooter, but it has the added effect of allowing you to cancel a jump, which is important when the screen starts filling up with projectiles.

Killed enemies drop black ink and/or golden ink. Black ink is used to purchase upgrades between runs, whereas golden ink is used to purchase items from NPC’s during the current run. Golden ink can occasionally be found by destroying objects in the environment or by killing tougher variants of standard enemies, which are indicated by a red glow and a golden skull icon over their life meters. More importantly, enemies are more likely to drop golden ink if you have a combo going. On top of this, enemies will occasionally drop health restoratives while you’re performing a combo, and this is one of the only ways to regain health within a level (outside of purchasing restoratives from NPC’s). As a result, players are rewarded for going all-out, which keeps the level of action – and the resulting tension – high throughout the game.

NPC’s appear frequently within levels, and there’s a wide variety of them, each with different things on offer. Some will offer health restoration for a fee, or max health increases. Some offer armor pieces that allow you to sustain a few extra hits of damage, and there are also armorers that can repair equipped armor. Some NPC's offer weapons at the cost of golden ink while others offer them at a cost to your precious health meter. Some offer buffs based on the size of your monetary donation, such as damage resistance or increased reloading speed, but they don’t tell you what the buff will be beforehand (and if you make the minimum donation, there’s a chance they won’t give you anything). Some NPC's offer rewards if you are able to complete a challenge, such as reaching a certain combo level or defeating a certain number of enemies with melee strikes. There are also some mystery boxes that can be traded for money or health depending on the NPC.

Some weapons and equipment have secondary effects, such as armor that sets enemies on fire if you sprint past them, projectiles that poison enemies, or swords that increase your chance of getting a health drop when killing an enemy with them. With a certain upgrade, players can cause enemies to occasionally drop potions that add additional status effects to standard projectiles. There are also special weapons that require you to collect a weapon sketch from one NPC and deliver it to another before being killed, which unlocks it for your next run.

Among the NPC’s is the Devil to whom you can trade away your maximum health for a number of perks, if you dare. Often you’ll be giving up 10-15% of your max health, but there’s one crazy deal where you can give up 90% of your max health in exchange for increasing your max health by one point for every two enemies you kill… potentially allowing you to raise your health meter beyond its original length. That said, you’ll still need to run some big combos to actually earn the health restoratives needed to refill it.

There’s a substantial upgrade tree that can be accessed between levels, allowing you to upgrade such things as maximum health, reload speed, critical hit percentages, and even temporary invincibility (which is set to zero by default). You can use this upgrade tree to customize your character to suit your playstyle, such as increasing the likelihood of getting certain drops, like grenades or black ink. Players wanting to focus on fast combo action can extend the combo timer and add shields that appear when combo thresholds are reached. A few of the more powerful upgrades are locked behind skill point thresholds, and in a nice touch, points can be redistributed as desired, encouraging experimentation.

From this menu, you can also customize the look of your character, including hair, facial hair, skin tone, and war paint (or create a design of your own making). You can also change your starting weapon loadout, view your stats, and view the uncovered story elements. In addition, there’s a full inventory of every discovered item and a bestiary of every enemy, miniboss, and boss in the game, which populates as you encounter them.

While the roguelike structure means that you’ll be replaying areas over and over again, the variety in possible item pickups, bonuses, or sacrifices to be made within a given run adds a lot of variety, making each run different. Furthermore, it is impossible to overstate the importance of using combos as the primary mechanic for receiving rewards and health restoration. This design encourages players to take risks – for potentially valuable and/or run-altering rewards – and experiment with different tactics. This also requires players to be constantly thinking about the best way to move through the environment or dispatch groups of enemies.

The opening jungle area, while tough, does a good job of introducing the player to the basic mechanics by offering several enemies that fly around without shooting, as well as a number enemies that do not immediately react to your presence and that fire slow-moving projectiles. Additionally, the bright colors of the enemies and the environment makes it fairly easy to assess threats quickly.

The second area, which is set in an underground military complex, features more muted colors, making enemies more difficult to spot. Furthermore, these enemies respond more quickly and fire faster-moving projectiles, and many foes can enter the area from closed doors, drop down from hidden panels in the ceiling, or pop out of walls. This makes it easier to be surprised by an attack or overwhelmed by attacks from multiple directions. It’s also more difficult to separate enemy types from one another given some similar soldier designs. This is doubly important, as the player needs to know how enemies will attack, and some enemies are dangerous to attack with melee strikes, since they fire off projectiles or explosives after being killed.

The alien levels in the third area are a bit easier to parse given the brighter colors and increased variety in enemy designs. That said, the environments themselves are more dangerous with bouncing projectile traps and trip lasers. There are also shielded enemies that cannot be damaged until their shield generators are destroyed, and some hovering enemies can shield others as well.

Each themed area contains a variety of minibosses, which you may or may not encounter during your run, depending on the route you take through the environment (miniboss locations are not noted on the map). These can be pretty tough, but they’re easier than the end-level bosses, and defeating them results in a fair amount of health restoration as well as a unique item pickup. As a result, getting good at miniboss battles can see you coming out of these encounters in better shape than when you went in.

Minibosses and end-level bosses each have a variety of attacks that escalate during the course of battle, keeping them interesting and requiring players to be mindful of heavy strikes. Since the player only receives partial health restoration upon completing an end-level boss encounter, it’s important that he employ some strategy lest he find himself underprepared for the next level. There are nine end-level bosses, plus a final encounter, and more than a dozen minibosses.

Aesthetically, the game is presented in a bold comic book style and offers a number of interesting enemy designs, particularly for the bosses and minibosses, and it makes use of a lot of colors (though the second area is comparatively drab). There’s basically guitar music blaring at all times – including the menus – to keep you in the spirit of killing things. There are several nice touches, such as black and white sketch elements for certain items. There are also sketch-looking rooms where players must defeat all of the enemies within, and there are portals that open to sketch bonus areas where players must kill enemies without taking damage or survive tough platforming challenges for potentially huge rewards. Story elements play out with these sketch visuals as well, sometimes overlaid with the comic creator's tablet showing online interactions.

Fury Unleashed was developed by Awesome Games Studio, based in Cracow, Poland and founded in 2009. The studio is headed by Marcin Draszczuk, who previously created Oozi: Earth Adventure, and he is credited as the game’s lead programmer and co-designer. Andrzej Pasiński is credited as lead designer, graphic artist, and animator; Bartosz Orliński is credited as gameplay and UI programmer; and Mariusz Draszczuk is credited as the game’s console programmer. Music for the game was composed by Adam Skorupa and Krzysztof Wierzynkiewicz, both of whom have an extensive list of game composition credits, including The Witcher series, Bulletstorm, and Shadow Warrior 2. The game’s relentless guitar music was performed by Aleksander Grochocki, who has worked on multiple projects with Adam and Krzysztof.