Platforms: PlayStation Vita
Publisher/Developer: Beatshapers (Originally Housemarque)
Genre: Puzzle Platformer Platform Played: PlayStation Vita
Originally, Furmins was developed by critically acclaimed developer Housemarque, and was first released for iOS devices in February, 2012. Now, the touch-controlled puzzle platformer has been ported to the PlayStation Vita by independent Ukrainian developer Beatshapers.
Furmins is a puzzle-platformer at heart, choosing to focus on gameplay and aesthetics rather than forcing an unneeded narrative. Almost instantaneously, I was thrown into the first world, emphasising the gameplay focus Furmins provides. There are eight Worlds in total, each containing twelve unique levels, which can take upwards of ten hours to fully complete.
Furmins takes full advantage of touch-controls, as moving objects like blocks, cylinders etc. can only be done using the front touch features, while rear touch controls are also used to control bumpers that will shoot your Furmins throughout the stages.
These controls are responsive, and – for the most part – work well. However, when trying to manoeuvre smaller items into tight spaces, I found that my view would usually be blocked by my own finger, which would hurt my ability to see where these items were placed. When items are unable to be placed in certain locations, they will snap back to a different position. Due to the inability of seeing if these items were unable to lock into place, I found myself tediously repositioning these items because of the obstructed view. This is a problem which a 3DS stylus would definitely solve.
I also had trouble selecting objects that were close to other items, as the Vita seemed to struggle to understand which item I was selecting. During later levels, items will need to be placed extremely close to others, meaning that this issue will cause some frustrations. Seeing an item you have meticulously placed randomly moved because the touch screen didn’t recognise your original selection can be annoying. Though it is hard to tell if this was a problem from the Vita or Furmins itself, it was a problem I have never dealt with throughout other titles.
The most striking detail of Furmins is the simple, yet gorgeous visuals. Each world contains a unique hand painted background that looks absolutely stunning on the Vita’s OLED screen. These crisp visuals are also found in the levels themselves, as each item, platform, and Furmin brings a very colourful and cute aesthetic.
Essentially, Furmins reminds me of Cut the Rope, as there are a number of similarities on the process of “100%-ing” a level. For example, each level has a certain number of candy pieces that, once collected, will earn you one Gold Star. The aim is to gain all three Stars available in each level, which require the player to complete the stage and to do so in a certain time frame. Furmins provides some interesting and challenging puzzles that require some outside-the-box thinking to complete. Though the majority can be completed fairly quickly, there are a good dozen levels that will test the puzzle prowess of each player.
Furmins doesn’t expect you to complete a perfect three-Gold-Star-run in one shot, as each Gold Star can be earned individually. If you cannot gain each of the hidden candies located in the level, you can simply focus on completing the level as quickly as possible. I found this method of challenge refreshing, as I could focus on each Star as I saw fit, and move on to another level if I found one to be too difficult. But keep in mind – the feeling of “100%-ing” a level that has troubled you frequently with a fraction of a second left to spare feels absolutely amazing.
Furmins does whatever it can to provide a less-than-frustrating experience, which is also emphasised in the forgiving barrier to unlocking each new world. I have played many puzzle games in the past, which obnoxiously force the player to perfect certain levels before they can enjoy unlocking anymore stages. Furmins, on the other hand, offers a barrier system that requires an easily obtainable amount of Gold Stars, so you will never find yourself locked out from experiencing each world the game has to offer. I found that this system worked great, and the lack of forcing me to “100%” levels outside my skill range made the experience more accessible.
Furmins allows players to instantly restart their attempts on levels, which allowed me to handle each level in sections, making sure I was able to progress through each section of the level before tackling the next obstacle at hand. The instant retries are definitely appreciated, as subtle movements are required when moving certain items. These quick retries ease the frustrations that may have been caused during load times. Furmins does an excellent job at providing a puzzle, offering solutions, and letting you go. The pieces of the puzzle are presented before you, and it is your ability to work around these puzzles-pieces to solve the problem.
One of Furmins defining qualities was its constant ability to provide a relaxing experience, which is something puzzle platformers in particular never aim to provide. Furmins contains one of the best calming soundtracks I have heard all year, which – alongside the colourful graphics – tends to build up a feeling of relaxation. Furmins is by no means a walk in the park to “100%,” but I found my daily frustrations drifting away as I found myself lost in the calming tones and beautiful visuals on display.
Furmins also provides online leaderboards that will compare your overall collective score and Gold Stars collected. The feature is a nice addition for players looking to compare their abilities to other players globally, or friends who may also have the game.
Playing Furmins was like experiencing a new twist on a genre you love. I was so used to having a frustrating time trying to overcome challenging platformers that I forgot the other emotions the genre can provide. It doesn’t try to be obnoxious and punishing to players who may not have the skills to “100%” every level. Though the option is ever present, it is not required to unlock everything Furmins has to offer.
Furmins adds to the growing list of top echelon puzzle platformers available on the PlayStation Vita, implementing some fantastic puzzles, beautiful visuals, and relaxing music, to create a unique addition to the handheld’s library.
Furmins is easy to play, yet difficult to master.
+ Gorgeous backdrops and crisp visuals
+ Calming musical soundtrack
+ Doesn’t punish players from experiencing every level
– Touch control problems