Originally released last year on iOS, Furmins is another one of those popular mobile titles that has since migrated to Vita with no new content and an unashamedly inflated price. Originally developed by Housemarque and ported by Beatshapers, Furmins is a two dimensional puzzle game that will almost certainly challenge you but with equal measures will probably make you think “Am I actually having fun?”. It’s one of those games where it’s hard to pinpoint any major flaws, yet you struggle to like as despite there being nothing majorly wrong with it; it just isn’t all that exciting to play. While that’s not to say no one will enjoy it, as I’m sure logic thinkers may, I just struggled to find enough motivation to pull me from one world to the next.
Furmins attempts a vague story that can be found within the manual. Apparently the Furmin’s king has fallen asleep and rolled over onto a lake. Not only has this created an impromptu dam, it also threatens the life of the Furmin’s plants due to starving them of water and so the Furmins set on a quest to cross the land to wake up their king. It’s clearly a pointless stab at tying the world together but there you go! Each level in the Furmins world is set on a 2D plain with a lovely background and it’s your job to get the Furmins from their spawn point to a basket that teleports them to the next level. What starts as a relatively straight forward journey quickly becomes complicated as many different mechanics are thrown at you.
Control in Furmins is entirely touch based and involves setting up the different components of the level available to you and then hitting the play button to check whether everything has been placed correctly. For example, sometimes in a level you will need to use trampolines to bounce the Furmins where you want them to, ice blocks can stop things falling (at least until they melt) and some levels have machines that suck the Furmins into them before spitting them out at speed in another direction. To further mix things up some levels have conveyor belts and others have springs that can be activated while the level is playing out (by touching the touch screen or rear touch pad). What this means is that while certain levels involve strategic placing of objects, others rely on your own timing to bounce Furmins across the stage.
The level design (which is obviously crucial for this type of game) is generally well done. You can get a feel for this in the pictures, but the problem really lies in that game mechanics repeat too often and are rarely introduced, which has a knock on effect of making the game’s pace feel overly slow. While the first set of stages in the game serve as a training ground, some levels are so difficult you can get stuck on them for quite some time. Each level has a three star system in place, with one star awarded for saving all Furmins, another for beating the level under a certain time requirement and a third for gathering all sweets in the level (whether the Furmins like sweets is never explained, but sweets it is). Although getting two stars is usually pretty easy, gathering the third (either the sweet or time star) can be incredibly frustrating. So much so in fact that it reminded me of trying to three-star some levels in Angry Birds. If that level of frustration is your thing then you’re in for a treat!
Visually Furmins looks fairly good without ever being brilliant. While the backgrounds are nice to look at it takes a very long time for items in the foreground to really change at all which detracts from the feeling you are progressing through different worlds. The audio department in Furmins I found quite annoying with MIDI sounding plinks and plonks and the Furmins making noises like the Gobbo’s did in Croc on the PSOne; you may find yourself turning the sound down. There really is little else I can really say.
Furmins does have over a hundred levels, and with stars used as the tool for unlocking worlds there’s a healthy amount of gameplay here but it feels like there’s really no great motivating factor to see them all. The similarity that runs throughout ultimately hurts the experience, as does the yet again slap in the face price tag for Vita owners (£5.49 versus £1.99 for the universal app on iOS). Those of you who are happy to replay the odd level over and over for an hour to grab that one elusive star may find something to like here, but otherwise unless you’re desperate for a puzzle game I’d suggest looking elsewhere. As I said at the start of my review it’s not that Furmins is a bad game, it’s just one that doesn’t really arouse the motivation enough to warrant seeing everything that’s on offer.