Picture the scene. Two world powers are lining up against each other, troop against troop, tank against tank. One of the two is preparing itself, arming its weaponry and equipping its arsenal to launch a deadly attack against its great rival.
And what's said rival doing? It's sitting around, threading dandelions through its hair.
Can you imagine? Can you see any of the wars in the last thousand years or so operating in this way? Such tactics would surely have led to the deaths of millions, leaving blood on the hands of the generals who ordered them. Yet, the very principle behind this kind of combat – each side taking turns to make a move, rather than just simply thrashing at it at the same time – are the foundations Furiae is built upon.
The theory is, by giving each side time, battles become exercises in strategic resource management, with players reserving specific attacks for specific enemies. It's this approach that separates the turn-based RPGs, such as Furiae, from the more standard romps, where there's a danger of repetitive strain injury from the constant attacking. No, Furiae has a much more relaxed style, though that doesn't necessarily make matters any easier – it just gives you a bit longer to think about things.
Something RPG fans of any style will find familiar, however, is the game's setting. With proceedings seemingly kicking off in a magical medieval realm called Furiae, you control a young lad hurtling towards adulthood as he discovers that there's more to him than meets the eye. He, apparently, is a 'chosen one', a magician, placed on Furiae to bring peace to a planet once torn apart by warring gods, who use us humans as mere pawns.
It's all rather dramatic, and though some of the dialogue is a little blunt and uncultured, it's not a plot that's hard to grab hold of – the theme of earth, fire, wind and water all having power is one littered throughout art and literature. It's these four elements and the gods behind them that help provide the main sources of power in Furiae, with the base attacks all revolving around one of the four – though they can be expanded upon by 'charming' particular animals and insects particular to each element.
Sound too complicated? Well, in practice it really isn't. Battles are triggered by you either walking up to a rival, or a rival encountering you. Then both you and your foe take it turns to make a move – and these don't always have to be offensive. It's perfectly possible, and often advisable, to use one of your turns to defend yourself, perhaps by sticking up a shield to deaden the strikes of your enemy.
That's an important factor, too, as each strike will take a varying amount away from your health, so anything you can do to defend yourself is worth pursuing.
Rivals come in various shapes and sizes and litter the game's truly beautiful, if a little small, top-down maps. That's small in terms of perspective, not scope, with Furiae suffering ever-so-slightly from a view that's a fair distance away from the action. While in some of the plainer settings this isn't a problem, in the more delicately drawn locales, spotting just what's going on amidst all the clutter is tricky. Nevertheless, the clutter is beautifully intricate.
It's this quality that shows just what kind of effort has been put into Furiae; this is a charming game that brims with class and will grip even those who have just a fleeting interest in mobile RPGs. Though not perfect or in any way revolutionary, it's hard to fault Resolution Interactive's efforts too much because of the love that seems to have been poured into Furiae at every stage.
It's so good, in fact, that it could bring new blood to the mobile RPG genre. Praise doesn't ring much louder than that.