You could be forgiven for overlooking Fenix Furia. Originally released on PCs as Fenix Rage in 2014, the game slipped onto Xbox Live in early June with hardly a peep from Microsoft, and a slightly altered moniker.
And with the flood of independent games on Xbox One, Fenix Furia doesn’t exactly standout, given its rather generic protagonist who looks like the god-forsaken spawn of Sonic the Hedgehog and a real, live hedgehog.
But despite the quiet release and silly looking main character, Fenix Furia is actually a lot of fun, and well worth the download for anyone who enjoys Super Meat Boy and other hardcore platformers that require lightning-fast reflexes to avoid regular deaths.
If you’ve played Super Meat Boy or N+, the gameplay of Fenix Furia will be instantly familiar to you. Controls are tight, basically consisting of running and jumping as you make your way to the exit as quickly as possible, avoiding bottomless pits, green slimes, and death rays along the way. But Fenix Furia distinguishes itself with endless jumping and boosting mechanics. This can add interesting twists on levels, like relying only on the boost to quickly escape from a boss or perfectly dodge moving slimes.
The endless jumping also gives Fenix Furia a bit of a Flappy Bird feel. The jumping isn’t quite that rhythmic or necessary to beat every level, but it does come into play in some tricky areas, particularly those that involve collecting the optional cookies that many of the game’s achievements are tied to. This means you don’t have to wall jump like in similar games, but the brutal difficulty of its peers remains.
Fenix Furia borrows from one other classic quite bit: Portal. Figuring out the best time to jump through multi-colored gateways is integral to beating many levels. It never gets quite as mind-bendingly complicated as Portal since you don’t actually possess a portal gun, but figuring out exactly how to get to a few exits did test my mettle.
There are also minor environmental puzzles, which usually involves setting Fenix on fire so he can crash through a block of ice. Still, this is usually pretty easy to figure out. Fenix Furia is at its core more a test of reflexes than a puzzle game.
Finally, there’s the difficulty. Is Fenix Furia a difficult game? Yes, but it’s a very uneven difficulty. You’ll come to levels where you’ll die 50 or 60 times easily (even more if you’re going for a hard-to-reach cookie). After finally conquering that level, you’ll make it to the next, and promptly finish it on your first try. Extremely difficult games don’t need to be difficult all the time, but it just feels a little jarring at times. A more traditional ramping up of the difficulty would have been welcome.
That being said, I never felt frustrated by Fenix Furia no matter how many times I died (and maybe this is due in part to the uneven difficulty). If anything, I just wanted to keep playing. Fenix Furia may not have all the charm of Super Meat Boy (and it certainly doesn’t have the same hype beyond it), but it’s still an excellent hardcore platformer that’s well worth your money.
Fenix Furia is not a bad looking game, but in 2016, its design is just so incredibly generic. Almost every single indie game that comes out tries to go for a slightly retro look without completely copying 8-bit or 16-bit designs, and Fenix Furia follows that trned. The levels have the look of a really outstanding PSX or Saturn game, which is fine, but nothing is particularly unique or memorable. It’s easy to see where you’re going and make out obstacles ahead, although sometimes Fenix can be easily missed in tall grass, or it can take a second to figure out where he is when a level starts.
Fenix Furia channels the same pseudo-retro soundtrack of its peers like Super Meat Boy. Really, it’s hard to complain too much about it. It works well here, whereas something like a full-orchestrated or techno soundtrack wouldn’t quite fit. Some of these songs wouldn’t feel out of place in an older Mega Man game. Even if you keep replaying a level, the music never gets annoying. Still, nothing really stands out either, and again, a soundtrack like this is really just par for the course with indie games.
Fenix Furia packs 200 levels in eight worlds. Considering how tricky many of these levels get, it takes quite a while to beat them all, easily in the 10-15 hour range. If you’re feeling particularly feisty, you can also go for the optional cookies in each level and try to set better and better times. For $15, there’s actually quite a bit of content here, especially compared to some of the other indie offerings currently on Xbox One.
Reviewed by Chris Freiberg