PrintE-mail Written by Tom Acton

Fighting fires is a task that not everybody can perform. It requires bravery, quick thinking, and the ability to keep your cool under pressure. For those who want to flex their firefighting muscles, without actually fighting any physical fires, can finally retire from their search, as Flame Over burns onto the steam store!

Originally on the PS Vita, and soon to be released to the PS 4, this quirky little game combines the concepts of shoot ‘em ups, and bird’s eye rogue likes to create a unique experience!

It’s been statistically proven that women love a man in uniform. Something about their strength or their bravery really floats people’s boats. No different, therefore, is Blaze Carruthers, the main protagonist of this game. Blaze is a plucky little firefighter, who’s been called out to save the people inside the Infernal Industries building, which is quickly burning up like a washed up movie star’s bank account. Fear not reader, for nothing is as relieving a sight as Blaze Carruthers, his magnificent handlebar moustache flapping in the breeze.

Blaze starts the level in a lobby of sorts, the smell of smoke invading his oversized, bulbous nose. At this point, it’s time to get used to the controls. You can plug in a controller to play the game, and this is probably advised, as the ported controls aren’t exactly the best. Don’t get us wrong, it’s in a playable state, but it is a mean feat to fully master the art of putting out fires with your keyboard. Most people would use a hose for a start.

The next thing the player will see is a time limit. And as we know, nothing quickens the heart rate, and lowers the life expectancy like a time limit! Fortunately, Blaze understands that escorting the trapped people to the fire escape will buy him more time. However, the player must be constantly aware of this time limit, because, as this reviewer found out, if you run out of time, you’re in for a nasty surprise.

If one person is going to benefit from a deadly fire, it’s the grim reaper. This is basically how he earns a living, so nothing is going to get on his wick more than a heroic stallion of a man, rushing in, and muscling him out of his business. If time runs out, the player is free to continue putting out fires, but they must do so while being hunted down by the grim reaper himself. Come into contact with him and its game over. The lyrics “don’t fear the reaper” lose all meaning here.

Every room has its own deal going on. Some rooms have people inside, petrified with fear as the amber flames edge closer to them. Others have nothing in but a sea of flame. But all of them are important. Because if there’s not a person in a room, there is a hidden collectable, or some money, which the player can spend on kitting out Blaze Carruthers with new upgrades.

Some people will even demand things of the firefighter, and will refuse to leave the building until they have been done. One stubborn lady has dropped her handbag in panic, and will not move an inch unless you retrieve it, no matter how enveloping the flames become. You’d be wrong to think you’re just putting out fires, and leading people to safety in this game, because in actual fact, there’s so much to do! Search through plant pots to find missing handbags, maintain the water levels of your hose, refill your fire extinguisher (for use on an electrical fire. Because we all know what happens when water meets electricity), hunt for upgrade tokens that give you access to better abilities, break down that heavy door with your fire axe and more! Also, don’t forget: time limit. The life of a fireman is a stressful one. We’re surprised that Blaze’s moustache hasn’t turned from brown to salt and pepper!

Surely, there is no way this life could be any more stressful for Blaze… oh wait. We forgot about the randomly generated levels. Yes, there is an infinite combination of layouts that the game can create for you! Just when you thought you were getting used to it… The levels are surprisingly big as well, so you’re never fighting the same fire twice. This really helps to create a fresh and enjoyable, as if you are standing in a blossoming orchard. Only the orchard is under the effect of a monumental forest fire. And your moustache is much bigger than normal.

There are even strategies to take when running through the game. Sick of those pesky electrical fires that are a hassle to put out? Find the generator on each floor and shut off the power! Is the corridor you’re in completely enveloped in flame? Make sure to use the extinguisher’s wider radius of effect! We’d tell you some of the other strategies, but a firefighter isn’t a true firefighter unless they can figure them out for themselves!

If we could find any faults with the game, it’s that it does, despite the randomised levels, get quite repetitive after repeated play. This is quite common for the rogue like genre that this game slots into. Each of the four zones that you can play in has only one mission relating to it. The woman who’s lost her handbag is present in the first floor, but other than that, you’ll get no other missions from the game. We’re not exactly looking for an amazing quest system in a “squirt ‘em up,” but something to mix up the experience a little bit would be great. The music is quite cool, but with only one real track, and slight variations in the tune for each level, it can get a little grating over time.

The urge to play roguelike shoot ‘em ups such as Flame Over is player-powered, as you’ll constantly want to advance to the higher levels, and earn all the money, and buy every upgrade. However, like many things, once you’ve perfected it, or experienced all that you can, where can you go from there?

Despite the existential crisis that we’ve just given you, let it be said that Flame Over is far from flawed. Practically, the game is amazing. It works like a charm and does all it needs to! It puts a charismatic spin on an occasionally emotionless genre, and we love it for that. Flame on!


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