The Flame in the Flood is an adventure survival game, that certainly requires trial and error and strategic planning. The game has roguelike elements which sees you having to collect items and resources in order to survive the harsh conditions.
The game is developed by The Molasses Flood, and coming out on Windows, OS X and Xbox One. The team working on the game also worked on Bioshock, Halo 2 and Rock Band. The game was backed successfully through crowdfunding, which is being more and more popular nowadays. They asked for $100,000 and actually reached a total of $251,647. The game has already had an early beta, for kickstarter backers, and then released in early access on Steam back in September.
The first couple of times I tried the game I died relatively quickly. You have to be ready from the get go, and inventory management is essential in order to survive for any length of time.
The game is set in America along a river. The river appears to have flooded and washed away parts of the environment, and you can see houses, trees and objects being washed away. You have a dog that accompanies you on your journey through the harsh environments. As soon as the game starts you have to collect anything you can within the world, whether its food, water or other important materials.
At the end of the first area you come across an abandoned raft. The raft floats dangerously down a river with strong currents and multiple obstacles. You have the ability to boost and navigate along the river, but you need to take into consideration the pull of the currents. Its also important to note that the river is procedurally-generated, and therefore changes each time you start the game. As you make your way down the river you come across campsites, that can be missed if you get pulled by the currents or crash into obstacles in your way.
The boost ability for the raft comes in really useful, because it allows you to quickly weave and dodge past objects floating in the river. Its essential that you stop at as many areas as you can, in order to collect supplies, sleep and craft equipment. As you begin to collect more, and gain crafting blueprints you can then start to make useful items. Everything in the game pretty much wants to kill you, whether its wolves, warthogs, heavy rain or many other things. This is where planning your crafting and managing resources becomes very important.
Just one or two missed opportunities or management mistakes can lead to a quick death. You always have to be on your toes, as at times I would stop to sleep or collect water, only to find I was attacked by large wolves. At the bottom of the screen you can see your various levels for things like hunger, hydration, warmth and other stats. Its important to stay on top of these, and maintain them. You also have a journal, where you can see your collected items, objectives, crafting abilities and other important factors. If you can craft something, then do it, as it will help you immensely. I really enjoyed the challenges in this game, and it truly felt like I was always scavenging round trying to survive. I often felt like I was pushing my luck and trying to get that little bit further. When you die the game has a map layout showing you how far you got before your death. This is great as it really makes you want to jump back in, and try to beat your last run.
Then presentation of the game is awesome. The game may look beautiful and have melodic and relaxing folk music, but the gameplay is anything but relaxing. The game is punishingly hard at times, but this makes surviving even more satisfying. You feel an immense sense of relief when you manage to catch a rabbit, find food or get a good sleep. The game does a great job of making you care about the character, and when I my character was attacked or broke bones I could imagine the suffering. The game has a cartoon like style, which actually reminded me of Telltales the Waling Dead series. It has a vibrant, cell-shaded look that works really well. The character you play as looks pretty reminiscent of Coraline, from the animated movie. I also want to mention the fantastic sound design. The game has a folk-rock score, and immersive sound effects that draw you into the world.
Overall I really enjoyed my time with The Flame in the Flood. Sure the game looks beautiful, with pleasant music and cute characters, but the gameplay is tough, challenging and relentless. You have to be on your toes, and make sure you scrounge for every last item in order to continue forward that little bit longer. My only real problem with the game was the occasional glitch, but overall the game runs well. The game does offer replayabiltiy, in terms of wanting to beat your previous run, but some people might find the experience too frustrating to keep going back and starting again. I would certainly recommend this if you like games like Ark, The Forest or procedurally generated survival games.
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