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Furious Angels review

Furious Angels - Collision course MorfeoDev
Furious Angels - Collision course

Furious Angels is a carefully crafted and thoughtfull indie shmup with a suprising level of polish and depth.

Furious Angels first caught my eye because some of the art-style and ship design was reminiscent of Relic's Homeworld. Now I'm glad that all of my initial assumptions about the game were dead wrong. Furious Angels is an arena based indie shmup and it made me realise just how much of an unfinished broken mess most recent indie releases are by totally not being one.

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A lot of small studios tend to misjudge the scope of their projects and end up suffering for it, as a result. Furious Angles is focused around simple but intricately interconnected mechanics with unobtrusive visual and sound design - all in service of communicating these mechanics to the player with the least possible amount of fanfare.

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Each of the game's runs has your little fighter/bomber aircraft launching from a mothership in order to engage swarms of incoming enemy aircraft tasked with sending both you and your mothership to the scrapheap. It is more akin to Astrofire than Tyrian, as far as spaceship themed shmups go. My first session left me wishing there was more depth to it, an upgrade system or more environments and backgrounds, but I realised soon enough that these would not only be unnecessary, but would also break what the game is trying to and succeeds at being.

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There are three basic means of interacting with the the game's systems using a mouse, keyboard or both - shooting/aiming, moving/evading and reloading/repairing. The trick is that Furious Angels will only let you do two of those effectively at any given time. You are free to never let go of the fire button, but your rockets will never reload beyond the first salvo and your ship won't auto-repair its fragile hull until you lay off the trigger. Being constantly on the move and performing evasive actions will keep you safe, but you can forget any semblance of accurate fire while you are at it.

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Enemy waves will keep coming, and can be overwhelming if you don't prune them on time. All this creates a tension on the mechanical level, which the player has to resolve on the fly - no pun intended. Perform risky aggressive manoeuvres while trying to thin the enemy fleet? Fly safe but risk being overwhelmed? Retreat to repair but loose valuable time and potentially leave the mothership vulnerable? An additional layer of complexity presents itself when you take ship upgrades into account.

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Your vessel has three different upgrade stages, and these ship improvements are applied automatically after a certain number of kills, with no option of cancelling the upgrade. Each of the progressively heavier ship variants at your disposal plays a little differently and timing what upgrade comes when can be decisive for a run, depending on the composition and position of the enemy swarm in relation to your ship at the exact time the upgrade occurs. The player's ship becomes less agile and has more powerful weapons with each of the upgrades. Being surrounded by enemy fighters and dodging incoming mines is no problem for a smaller craft, but turns lethal immediately after an upgrade event. The game is kind enough to let you know how many kills separate you from the level up, so you can plan ahead. Every of the upgraded states changes the way that the basic mechanics mentioned above function just enough to provide a little more gameplay variety.

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Furious Angels really shines after a few sessions, once you are comfortable with the core mechanics. The game managed to put me into that rare meditative state that a scarce few titles manage to pull off. It creates rhythm within play and then asks for actions to be performed faster and faster until you aren't directly in control anymore, but are rather interacting with the game on some more intuitive level.

Your performance, beyond a personal sense of mastery, is evaluated on a daily scoreboard. I haven't quite managed to figure out how things are scored, as accuracy, combos, and a lot of other things seem to factor into it. The leaderboard is reset frequently, and a fresh combination of enemy waves is available every few days.

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The £5 asking price for Furious Angels on Steam is a humble one considering how well thought out and polished a game the trio of MorfeoDev have delivered. If you are looking for a casual yet deep daily execution challenge, Furious Angels provides.