Green Lava Studios knows exactly what Fenix Rage is supposed to be; a demanding hardcore platforming experience that rewards players for mastering the core mechanics while learning to embrace the fine art of patience. It’s an exercise in conquering the rage that lingers behind the consecutive miscalculations that inevitably lead to death.
Fenix, the game’s hero, finds himself searching for the mysterious figure, Oktarus, who remains the only other survivor of an enormous explosion that wiped out Fenix’s village. This is truly the only element of the game’s story that you need to bother understanding. Perhaps it could have benefited from emphasizing the element of time that naturally accompanies its speed running nature, however, it’s not hard to imagine Fenix doing everything imaginable to catch Oktarus sooner rather than later.
Now that the driving force behind Fenix’s mad dash for glory is firmly locked in your mind, it is important to note that you’re going to die, a lot. There is no free cookie for the player here. Like other hardcore platformers that demand mastery of their core game mechanics – Super Meat Boy comes to mind – Fenix Rage will test you on a variety levels, other than just your patience. This shift in difficulty occurs while maintaining blissfully responsive controls, which allow you to manipulate the game’s protagonist with precision.
Dashing through each world reveals a series of progressive challenges that capitalize on a variety of classic platforming elements, such as memorizing the patterns of green blocks of insta-death, executing flawless dash maneuvers and outrunning floating crocodile heads. The frenetic platforming action manages to find balance in a bright color palette and vivid 2D art style, which permits players the luxury of always knowing where Fenix is on screen. When I could hear the plastic shell of my controller crack, from channeling all of my frustration into my hands, I never once believed I was failing because the game was broken. No, I failed because I sucked, but I was positive that I could improve.
After the first five to ten stages, you’ll find yourself planning in advance the perfect route to guide your character on, as you truly begin to understand that reaction time and speed aren’t the only things that matter. Fenix Rage grants players the opportunity to improve their level completion times through a combination of well-executed level designs and progression systems.
The game’s 200+ stages ease you into the experience without rapidly thrusting you into the more complex puzzles and obstacles. Steadily, the game’s core mechanics build upon each other and by the end you find yourself revisiting the beginning stages with a sense of accomplishment.
Each of the four worlds culminate in a boss fight that further extends the variety of obstacles standing in your way of reaching Oktarus. Furthermore, the skills you acquire over the course of the game set you up nicely to face off against the final battle, which as challenging as it is, remains somewhat of a disappointment. I cannot lie and say that the final boss was extremely difficult, but it was certainly not the challenge I was expecting. Sure, it relies on the skills you’ve acquired over the course of the game, but the final boss can be conquered by combining your newly acquired talents and a quick memorization of his attack patterns with impeccable execution.
Green Lava Studios has created a diverse set of challenges that reflect careful level design and impeccable progression. By the final stage, returning to the earlier levels to test out your new skills seems like a no brainer. A variety of end game content also offers a reason to thrust yourself back into the mad dash for victory.
Perfecting each level and maximizing your completion time, along with collecting every level’s cookie provides a reason to play Fenix Rage long after you’ve caught Oktarus. Additionally, the inverted color scheme challenges of Fenix’s Box, which unlock by reaching hidden red portals in certain levels, or the game’s Arcade mode, unlocked by beating each level’s target time, contribute a significant amount to the game’s replay value.
Fenix Rage balances a fine line between absolute frustration and pure accomplishment that isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re in the market for a hardcore platformer that respects a player’s lust for punishment though, then this is definitely that game.
This review is based on a PC copy of the game, which we were provided with.
With Fenix Rage, Green Lava Studios fully grasped how to fuse together hardcore platforming elements, to create an engaging experience that will test your patience and skills to their breaking point, in spite of a few minor drawbacks.