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Platform: PC

Fenix Rage Review

Rejected honest title: Fenix Mild Annoyance Mixed With A Glowing Sense Of Achievement

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It's always a little bit worrying when self-awareness finally pushes through in this industry. Demon's Souls and Dark Souls earned a reputation for being harrowingly difficult – rightfully so, but focussing on that above all else is a bit like going to the cinema and remarking exclusively on the size of the screen – and before you knew it every last piece of Dark Souls II promotional material was specifically designed to push that one quality in our faces above all others. Improved combat mechanics? More stable multiplayer? “Sod that, let's keep telling them how much they're going to die. Maybe if we keep it up they'll start to believe it.” And who could forget the trend of masochistic ultra-hard platformers? Engorged by the blood of a thousand badly-recorded Let's Plays of I Wanna Be The Guy, their reputation for being frustrating beyond words is well-deserved. Naturally there was going to be a game sooner or later that took advantage of that, and Fenix Rage embodies that profile. Look, it's even right there in the title. “Hey guys, our game will make you rage. Look at how rage-inducing it is. Are you enraged yet? Oh god, please point a webcam at yourself and shout angrily at our game; it's the only marketing we'll ever get.”

Fenix Rage

Alright, that was uncalled for. To be fair, Fenix Rage more or less lives up to the movement it seeks to hijack, which is odd because it gives you an unprecedented level of control that would, were you to transplant it into any other platformer you care to name, make it insultingly easy. Fenix, the main character – who looks for all the world like a permanently angry tangerine wearing a Mario Kart blue shell for a helmet – can jump and horizontally dash indefinitely in mid-air. There's no catch here: no matter what position, location or state you're in, you can always jump and dash. Any platformer in which touching the platforms is entirely optional may not sound like a challenge, but Fenix Rage is the kind of game where – thanks to its arrangements of lethal obstacles – you won't want to touch the platforms. Or the ground, for that matter. If I'm honest, you really don't want to touch anything. I'm not even sure we can call it a platformer at this point; it's more like an aerial manoeuvring side-scroller.

Furthermore – not that I want to imply anything by this, no sir – Fenix Rage is going to seem awfully familiar to anybody who has ever played a certain famous meat-themed platformer. Of course, there's always going to be a bit of overlap between masochistic platformers when their niche is narrow enough to lose spare change in, but when you have short themed levels full of carefully-timed moving instant-death obstacles, hard-to-reach collectibles and wormholes to bonus levels that disappear after a short amount of time, it's hard not to picture Green Lava Studios turning up to Team Meat's headquarters with an insulated panel van, some balaclavas and two hessian sacks. Not that that's a problem in itself – well, assuming you aren't a member of Team Meat, in which case I'd wager you'd deem it a massive problem – but somebody needs to draw attention to it. Not being a problem doesn't mean we aren't going to point and laugh.

Fenix Rage

As a matter of fact, Fenix Rage almost feels like the opposite side of the same coin from Super Meat Boy. While both are structurally similar, their actual platforming mechanics are almost diametrically opposed: the latter being all about momentum, graceful arcs and slick slides; the former being all about whiplash directional changes and frantic weaving. What they thankfully share is controls so tight you could use them to perform open heart surgery on a dehydrated gnat. Everything you perform in Fenix Rage has this wonderful sense of responsiveness and instantaneousness to it: no wasted frames, just dash dash jump dash jump jump dash jump jump jump dash, repeating ad infinitum, or at least until your fingertips are flattened into hideous red-raw stubs. Even with just those two simple actions, the controls have their own little subtleties to them: you can cancel out of a dash with a jump, or a jump with a dash, and when you're surrounded by deadly green lasers with less room to move than a Transperth bus seat, that might be the exact detail that lets you slip through. Ultimately your biggest weakness is not an inability to gain enough height, but an inability to lose it; sometimes gravity just isn't fast enough.

Look, I know it sounds like I'm concerning myself with tiny, unnecessary details here, but you tend to become acutely aware of nuances like that when you come up against Fenix Rage's level design: a seemingly endless stream of deviously-arranged obstacles that are guaranteed to make you... well, moderately annoyed, at the very least. It's textbook stuff, this. Each world introduces at least one or two new elements, then proceeds to systematically utilise them in a number of surprisingly imaginative contexts. If you were worried that this was going to be one of those games that just throws you in a box with a squintillion spikes and sits back, never fear: there's no such nonsense here. Well, maybe one or two levels fall into that category. Wait, I just found a third one. For the most part, though, enough variety has been injected into Fenix Rage to make every new level a little burst of joy. It's not quite the overwhelming frustration generator that it claims to be – at least, not if you're just playing on humdrum Normal difficulty – but it's challenging enough to make completing a level feel like an achievement in its own right, rather than just a sliver of progression.

Fenix Rage

If you are the sort who spends time on internet forums critiquing I Wanna Be The Pointless Derivative Fan-game #0451 and carefully plotting out speedrun routes for your favourite obscure NES platformer that nobody else has ever heard of, worry not: when it comes to additional challenges Fenix Rage really goes the extra mile, to an almost concerning degree. Finishing the game in itself takes a respectable seven or eight hours – thanks for making a game I can't just polish off in an afternoon by the way, guys – but the ancillary content is where it really goes bonkers. Each level has a time limit to beat, a corresponding 'challenge' mode that tasks you with completing the level with a limited number of jumps and dashes, a mysterious 'godmode' mode – which I've yet to unlock, but presumably comes with a free packet of wet wipes and the phone number of your local counsellor – and one of the more perplexing features: cookies. These are mostly the equivalent of Super Meat Boy's bandages, being a collectible placed somewhere rather inconvenient in the level, although there's one key difference: if you collect all the cookies in a given world, the game will give you a recipe. No, not like a crafting recipe. I mean a recipe for actual cookies that you can bake in real life. Meatspace, as it were. “Why cookies?” you might ask, to which I can only return an uncomfortable shrug. They're completely arbitrary, without anything even remotely approaching an explanation. Do they really need one, though? They're collectibles, ergo you want them. Also they might awake in you a new-found passion for baking, which I suppose is a plus considering the game's target audience probably subsists entirely on pizza and energy drinks.

Fenix Rage
Fenix Rage box art Platform:
Our Review of Fenix Rage
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Fenix Rage is ranked #804 out of 1872 total reviewed games. It is ranked #59 out of 152 games reviewed in 2014.
804. Fenix Rage

Fenix Rage
10 images added Oct 7, 2014 20:15
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