Freaking Furries from Digital Poke is a physics-based puzzle game where you must save your furry little friends, and avoid some furry foes, by using the tried-and-tested catapult metaphor which iOS gamers will be well accustomed to.
The premise of Freaking Furries is simple. You are tasked with saving yellow Furries and avoiding red Furries. You have to save your yellow furry buddies in various environments by utlizing your surroundings and knocking them off their platforms. To do so, you catapult characters called Boos at them – simply aim, pull back for the desired amount of power and release to fire. Each Furry you save earns you points towards the target that must be met to progress to the next level.
It sounds easy enough, and at first it is, but there are aspects of the gameplay that make it a much more challenging prospect. Firstly, the Boos you fire have to be carefully considered – for every Boo that you release, your score is deducted points making the target harder to reach the more shots you take.
This also means that the fewer shots you take, the higher your final score can be. There are a number of types of Boo, 6 in total, each deducting a different amount of points from your score when fired. Boos with special powers (which make the level easier) cost more points to use meaning you have to use fewer if you still want to reach the required score. A so-called King Boo is also available for you to use which is capable of destroying the level in one shot. However, you only have a limited number of King Boos to use and, if you want more, an in-app purchase must be made (more on this later).
Aside from the Boos, the yellow Furries and the score you have to reach, there is also a star to collect in each level – a certain number of these is required to unlock the next episode with a number of new levels, or a new Boo with a certain special power. Further still, for every evil, red Furry that you accidentally save, your score is deducted points adding a level of skill and strategy to the game as you aim to avoid them. You can tap Furries of any color to see how many points they will garner or lose you if saved meaning you can more effectively plan your shots to get the best results.
Added to the scoring system are the various environments in the different episodes, each bringing with it new static or moving obstacles, new slippery or bouncy surfaces, teleportation devices for Boos and increasingly tight angles making planning your trajectories even more difficult. All of this, when brought together, means that there is certainly a lot to consider, as you can probably tell, and this isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. The layers of strategy and planning make for a more tactical and engaging game.
At first, you’ll breeze through the levels in one or two shots, reaching the required score easily and gathering stars as you go. The tutorial makes picking up and playing the game in the initial stages simple too. But as you progress, the more challenging levels will keep you interested for longer. There are 5 episodes and over 150 levels in total giving the game some longevity.
Graphically, Freaking Furries is very nice indeed. The characters, environments and even the UI are all beautifully designed. The physics of the gameplay is spot on – it seems true to life and is consistent meaning that practise really does make perfect. Slide along icy surfaces or bounce off trampoline walls, utilize different angles to get the desired result and adjust the power of your shot to get the trajectory just right. For a game so reliant on its physics, Freaking Furries had to nail it and it really has in this department.
Despite fun, challenging and good-looking gameplay, I did have some issues with the app though. Firstly, and perhaps the most minor and subjective of my qualms, was the music. The sonic experience of the app is good as long as your playing in short spells. Having played the app for a number of hours during review, I found the music and sound effects grated on me and felt they could be toned down somewhat. I eventually resorted to playing with my iPhone on silent.
I was also disappointed with some of the monetization and social features that, in my opinion, are capable of ruining a game with great potential. Unfortunately, I feel this is the case in some respects with Freaking Furries. My first encounter with this problem, as you can see in the image above, was when I was prompted to share something about the game on Twittter or Facebook in order to proceed past a certain level in the second episode. Alternatively, I could buy the privilege of progressing. I found this annoying as I had completed every level to this point and would not be able to proceed to the episode three without gathering more stars – you need 45 starts to unlock episode three and 45 are available up until this prompt meaning you have to complete every level and gather every star to this point, something that is no mean feat.
This isn’t the only strategy that I thought was distasteful. The limited King Boos that I mentioned earlier are only available via an in-app purchase once your initial supply is depleted and you are prompted multiple times per game to use the King Boo even if you have none left, particularly annoying when playing for a longer spell. Further, the other Boos which are unlocked after a certain number of stars are available early for an in-app purchase.
None of this is unusual for an App Store game. In fact, it’s increasingly common as freemium games become the norm. However, it impacts negatively on the gamely of Freaking Furries and I would much rather pay a few dollars for the app, which it is certainly worth, and have special abilities and levels either immediately accessible or unlockable through success in the game. Alas, this is not the way of the modern iOS game.
The good: The delightfully bouncy physics, beautiful graphics and good-looking UI. Challenging gameplay.
The bad: Monetization and social promotion strategy has negative impact on actual gameplay. Music is a tad irritating after long periods of play.
The verdict: Freaking Furries is a fun, addictive and challenging game that can be played for minutes or hours. It looks great and is a joy to play but the experience is dampened by poor implementation of in-app purchases and social media strategy. Check out Freaking Furries in the App Store now and download it for free. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter: @TodaysiPhone.