If the gaming press at large is to be believed, Kinect is on its last legs. While games had to support Kinect in some form when the console first launched in November 2013, Kinect support has not been mandatory for quite a while. The consoles could then be purchased without the sensor, and now the Slim model requires an adaptor if you want to use the peripheral with your new console. While it's true that Kinect games are becoming rarer and their audience is growing smaller, on occasions a new title crawls into the spotlight. FRU
is one of those titles. The thing is, had the game released at the start of the console's lifetime, it's also one of those titles where there's every chance that it could have made a difference to Kinect's fate; instead of being a piece of shovelware to keep Kinect owners occupied, this is a game that really highlights Kinect's potential.FRU
is a simple platformer. Each of the game's 100+ levels is displayed on a single screen where players must navigate the protagonist, a mysterious girl who wears a fox mask to diguise her identity, from the left side of the screen to the right. To get there, she must use the platforms and plinths from two alternate universes. Players don't switch between these universes with the press of a button on the controller; instead, players must use their own Kinect-projected silhouette to reveal the parts of these two dimensions simultaneously and take the girl to safety... or at least the next level. There is no teeth-gnashing difficulty akin to Super Meat Boy
where every move must be timed to perfection. The difficulty lies in being able to bend your body into the shape(s) needed to complete the level.
There is no tutorial -- players are taught how to play the game through the level design itself. Each of the game's four chapters begins with simple levels where players can make errors with little consequence, apart from a bit of lost time. After this, the levels gradually increase in difficulty as the chapter progresses. Once players have mastered the basics in chapter one, each of the following chapters has a different mechanic to control or avoid. Chapter two turns the game's alternate universe into a water filled cavern through which the girl can swim. Chapter three requires players to press several buttons simultaneously, while chapter four extols the dangers of flowing lava. At no point are players left without the necessary knowledge to come up with one of many solutions to the obstacles in front of them. There is no time limit and you have an endless supply of lives, so there's plenty of time to test out your theories.
I hope that your balance is good
Unlike other titles where the Kinect tracking is questionable, FRU
's Kinect tracking is almost flawless. There is no lag between your movements and the silhouette on the screen, something that isn't much of a concern during the game's easier levels anyway. However, the later levels will see players creating shapes of which their yoga teacher would be proud, and a perfect silhouette is a necessity and, thankfully, a given. During these moves where arms are stretched in different directions, players will often be left holding the controller in just one hand. Don't panic, the developer thought of that with the game's simple control scheme! The girl's movement can be controlled with either joystick while jump is mapped to both shoulders and triggers, meaning that players of either handedness can play the game with ease. The only slight issue with the tracking was that occasionally the game can pick up a bit of background noise, but your silhouette can be reset at any time with a simple press of the
If you fancy adding a bit more of a challenge to the game (or you're looking for a completion), you'll want to consider collecting the 24 golden masks, the collectibles that are spread throughout the game and are usually found in awkward to reach places. Once all of these have been collected, players will unlock a Bonus mode - the game's prototype that was first showcased at E3 2014. Players can play the bonus levels on their own or with a local friend. In co-op, there are obvious problems with trying to track two people at once and often one player was lost completely, or our silhouettes merged together to create a rather large blob that took up most of the screen. These problems are likely to be the reason why co-op never made it into the game's final version. The prototype is a fun little bonus and is in no way a detriment to the finished product; if anything, it is more of a testament to how far the game has come since its first incarnation, especially in regards to Kinect tracking.
While player 2 tries to complete the prototype properly, players 1 just sits on a chair while laughing at him
Despite players needing to navigate through more than one hundred levels, the game is still a relatively short experience. You'll need 3-4 hours to complete the story for the first time and even less than that if you're not bothering with the collectibles. Unfortunately, the story is a rather brief and forgettable tale about a king who wanted to be the most beautiful person in his kingdom, therefore he made all of his subjects wear masks to hide their faces. It is something that feels like it was thrown in at the last minute to provide a reason for players to be travelling through the levels and would have benefitted from a little more meat on the bones.
Finally, the achievements will need at least two playthroughs and a second player if you want a completion. There are four achievements for completing the game's four chapters, as well five level specific achievements that require the player to perform certain actions. You'll also need to grab all of the golden masks
and complete the Bonus Mode in co-op
. The two that will prove the most challenging, though, are the ones for completing chapter four in one run without dying
and the one for speed-running the game in less than 40 minutes
. These are the two that will require a separate playthrough or, more likely, more than one.
Near flawless tracking makes Through Games' simple platformer a joy to play, even if the lack of a story means that you're not always sure why you're playing it. Clever level design and a simple control scheme means that a tutorial isn't needed; players can make use of multiple solutions to each puzzle to make sure that the masked girl reaches the end of the game. If you're a fan of Kinect, there's no reason why this game shouldn't be in your collection because FRU
is a game that is testament to what could be achieved with Microsoft's peripheral.
- Flawless Kinect tracking
- Clever level design with many solutions to the same puzzle
- Gentle difficulty curve
- Simple control scheme that caters to players of either dominant handedness
- Non-existent story
- Short campaign
The reviewer spent four hours completing the game's campaign and persuading her husband to complete the Bonus Mode with her. She earned 14 of the game's 16 achievements along the way. She will eventually try for the other two but not until her sister-in-law has collected her dog, otherwise known as a trip hazard. A copy of the game was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.