Sunday, 23 October 2016

Fumiko! - Preview

Going on a weird trip in the Fumiko! demo level...

Fumiko! demo level

Entering the world of Fumiko! is a bit like finding yourself inside some weird, narcotic-induced episode, full of bright lights and beautiful colours slapping you in the face as you fly past. The fact that you appear to be playing as a nude representation of a female AI who's head is, essentially, on fire doesn't exactly scream 'reality'.

You know what? Sod reality. Reality doesn't let me spring 100ft up in the air to cross a chasm made of luminous cuboids.

Fumiko! on the other hand, most definitely does.

Fumiko! black demo level
Think I'm supposed to aiming towards the middle one...?

The mechanics of the game thus far seem to be those of a standard 3D platformer i.e. you attempt to jump and dash to different floating platforms to reach objectives and, if you've got my manual dexterity, more often than not plummet to your doom.

Yet that simplified summary does Fumiko! a disservice. For one thing, the jumping itself is insanely enjoyable, primarily because pressing spacebar (though a gamepad is recommended) launches you into space with such force that you can barely control your trajectory all, leaving you desperately trying to aim for any platform which might be reachable. This sounds frustrating, and admittedly coupled with the somewhat slippery interaction with objects it can be. If you add in double jumps and dash jumps, though, then what at first is annoying actually turns into something incredibly fun as you bound across the level like a low gravity Ezio.

Fumiko! demo falling
Bugger, there I go again.

Just what it is that you're bounding across is open to interpretation. Fumiko! is charmingly psychedelic in appearance, its extremely colourful and delightful low-poly models adding to the sense of being in some abstract, AI-based otherworld. In fact, being low-poly helps to avoid visual confusion, as there's nothing more annoying in a platformer than misunderstanding where a platform actually is. The sheer amount of colour on display in this demo level adds a significant 'wooow' factor, as nothing says dull like drab aesthetics. To cut a long story short, Fumiko! looks flippin' good.

Fumiko! text overlays
Looks very nice, but sorta hard to read...

Despite the fact that this is only an early demo level, it's already got some interesting little things going on. It makes clever use of hints and instructions in overlays on the surrounding scenery, so as to not break the sense of immersion by having an incongruous text box appear. What I would say about these, though, is that it's quite difficult to read writing on a nearby block when you're hurtling towards it at high speed.

There are even little cutscenes, cued in by interacting with strange robot fellow once you reach objectives. You can also (praise the lord!) skip the text of these tutorial cutscenes - not that the writing is boring, far from it, but my attention span wanes when I could be jumping around like a demented bunny. It's a thoughtful gesture that many games fail to implement.

Perhaps the only real criticism I have at this stage is that I struggled to comprehend where enemies were, or how they kept making me explode. They're represented as cubes of various colours, in keeping with Fumiko!'s low-poly nature, but they're so transparent that I could barely see them before they promptly forced me to respawn. It added a layer of difficulty which I'm not sure was necessary at that early stage.
Fumiko! demo white background

In any case, I think it's safe to say that Fumiko! is one to look out for, especially if you need some light relief from the humdrum of everyday life.

And, y'know, you basically play as a cross between Cortana and Superman. Awesome enough for you yet?

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