Culinary art is the art of preparing, cooking and presenting a meticulously crafted dish. The best chefs are gifted at finding the perfect pairing of ingredients to create masterpieces. Emeric Thoa of The Game Bakers, an independent studio based in France, takes the culinary approach as well when pairing game mechanics and ideas to one another.
Furi, the next dish on the menu from Game Bakers, blends hack/slash with bullet hell in structure much like the infamous Shadow of the Colossus, every conflict is a boss fight. The focus in this title is mastery instead of grinding, so every bit of your arsenal is available from start. “I look at all the game mechanics as ingredients. I wanted a game mechanic that was skill based but simple as well,” Thoa details over Skype. “I didn’t want to go the route of other games that have been using tons of combos you have learn. You end up only using one or two in the end.”
Every conflict will require the player to sculpt a strategy with a focus on different skills as opposed to getting stronger gear. This design choice brings organic depth and variety to the battles and challenging, but not insurmountable, learning curve.
“The very first [ingredient] that we built all the gameplay we have now on is to have the character be very, very fast and reactive,” Thoa says. In Furi players won’t be held hostage by slow animations and dodge rolls while the enemy attacks. Building on this mechanic allows for fights to stay in the upper tier of intensity, remain challenging, and push players themselves to evolve. “You have a sword and a gun. You can dodge. I can assure you that, when you play and leave the game hours later, you’re not gonna be the same player.”
For character design, the Game Bakers partnered with Takashi Okazaki. Okazaki, the crerator of Afro Samurai known for his incredible character design, added his own flavor to Furi’s gameplay in a roundabout way as well. “I had a very precise idea and briefed him on it with gameplay and visual elements and everything,” Thoa recalls when speaking on the back and forth between him and Okazaki. Thoa also recalls that, even though what Takashi would send back may not respect every suggestion he had, he often found himself impressed by elements he hadn’t even thought of. Okazaki would add elements and accessories to bosses that were so cool, Thoa and the team would incorporate them into the conflict.
While the art design and game mechanics alone would be a substantial dish, it’s not complete without well seasoned story element on top. “There’s very strong meaning in this game; it’s not just boss fights. Every single character in this game has a reason to fight,” Thoa says. “As a player, this journey is where you’ll discover why they want to prevent you from escaping and why this mysterious masked rabbit character is helping you. Eventually you’ll learn who you are and why you do what you do.”
PC and PS4 gamers will be sampling The Game Baker’s latest fine cuisine later in 2016. Under the right heat, Furi may earn these ambitious chefs a Michelin Star.