Title: The Flame in the Flood
Version Tested: Xbox One
Available On: Mac OSX, Windows, Xbox One
Developer: The Molasses Flood
Publisher: The Molasses Flood
Genre: Roguelike, Survival game
Official Site: http://www.themolassesflood.com
Release Date: February 24, 2016
Where to Buy: Xbox Store, Apple App Store, Steam
The beauty of The Flame in the Flood is matched only by the ferocity of its gameplay. This visually stunning survival game constantly kept me on my toes, challenged me to push forward and made me doubt my every decision.
The game starts off innocently enough. You play as a young girl known only as Scout. Accompanied by your loving canine companion, Aesop, you hop on a raft and start down a very long river to search for the source of a radio signal and find refuge in the flooded remains of society. The campaign takes you through 10 unique areas, each littered with resources that you need to harvest to stay alive. You pilot your raft through the visually unique areas, with each one introducing new mechanics and slowly building up the player’s resources and knowledge about the world.
There are four stats that you need to constantly manage: Food, Hydration, Temperature, and sleep. Each is suppressed with a different resource; with Food and Hydration being the hardest to manage. I can’t count the number of times that I couldn’t find the resources to craft a trap to snatch up a rabbit and make some jerky so I ended up crawling on the ground, dying from starvation. But each death taught me, new mechanics, what to keep on eye out for, and how to better manage my inventory. And be warned: you will die a lot. Thankfully the game just boots you back to the start of the most recent region you entered. So while dying may set you back quite a bit sometimes, you are always given a chance to redeem yourself.
The inventory is fairly easy to manage and the game does a very good job of telling you what every item does, how to craft it and how every status will affect you, but I still found myself fighting against the systems occasionally. The amount of space you are given in your backpack means that you’ll be constantly rummaging in your bag to see if there is anything you can drop or craft to open up some extra room. This can be remedied later by crafting a larger pouch, but inventory management sometimes hampers the enjoyment of the experience.
The raft is at the core of the experience. You travel down the river, maneuvering the rickety craft through rapids, avoiding floating debris and rocks jutting out of the water. As you make your way through the world you stop at campsites, drug stores, marinas and other areas that remain untouched by the water. You need to visit as many of these areas as possible in order to scavenge for resources, hunt animals, find shelter and warm yourself up at a fire. The raft is a great way to keep the momentum of the game up and constantly push players forward, forcing them to stay on the move, but I wish it controlled a bit better. The raft only has so much resistance to being smash against rocks and flipped over by the waves. So when I chose to risk the rapids so I could get to the next safe haven a little faster, I was also risking death every time because I was at the mercy of the water. I liked how the choice played an integral part in my time with the game, but it was frustrating feeling like I had little control over my own death.
One of the first things that stand out when you boot up The Flame in the Flood is the gorgeous art style. The entire world looks like it was ripped from a slightly more cheery Tim Burton movie. The characters faces are warped and unsymmetrical. The shadows stretch across the water and dance along the ground as you desperately scavenge for resources. And the weather effects look absolutely stunning. I was rafting down a calm section of a river when suddenly, in a flash of lightning, rain starting to pour down and every so often a bolt of lightning would light up the screen. The visuals really bring the entire experience together. Yes, exploring the broken down world is a harrowing and daunting task, but discovering each new area and exploring its nooks and crannies never gets old.
Running into new creatures like boars and wolfs is also a thrilling experience. Seeing the decrepit, shadowy figures of the beasts lunging at you never ceases to be terrifying, and a lot of that is due to the way all of the art comes together and makes everything feel very fluent. The bright colors bring out the beauty of the destruction and make The Flame in the Flood feel, unlike any other survival game.
The Music also ties the entire game together very nicely. The soundtrack is very upbeat for such a desolate game, which gave me a sense that I had to keep going and push forward. The twangs of the guitar and the soft vocals that occasionally pipe up give the adventure a sense of grandeur while simultaneously making it feel like an intimate affair.
The Flame in the Flood is a very solid survival game. The raft pushes the action forward at a brisk pace and meshes inventory management with deft movements. It’s gorgeous graphics, memorable music and an interesting world all come together to form a coherent, fun game, despite the control and inventory flaws that crop up.
- Gameplay: Scavenging, Inventory management, and maneuvering raft
- Graphics: Stylized cartoon graphics. Not unlike a Tim Burton film
- Sound: Beautiful acoustic music that makes every moment feel like an adventure
- Presentation: Long loading times after death, but smooth frame rate everywhere else
- Gorgeous Graphics
- Clever Writing
- challenging gameplay
- Raft is a breath of fresh air
- Inventory is a chore
- Raft is very difficult to control
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