There are a few video game genres that I don’t entirely understand. For instance, roguelike games. I’ve never truly understood what this meant and it was only a term I just recently learned. Supposedly, these types of games usually consist of procedurally generated levels that change each time you play and the implementation of permadeath, where once you die you have to start all over again. Some people love games like these while others hate them for their higher than normal difficulty.
Flame Over by Laughing Jackel is just such a game, but with a slight twist. It’s not a traditional roguelike in that it also blends in elements of your typical twin-stick shooter and plays in real time. Flame Over is a fire fighting action game featuring procedurally generated levels, unforgiving difficulty levels, and an otherwise fun concept that keeps you coming back for more.
Basically all you do in Flame Over is fight fires and rescue people and cats. Like most roguelikes, you’re thrown into a level with very little information other than to survive. Since the levels are procedurally generated, you will never know the layout of it beforehand. You start off in the same room each time which also serves as the exit point for people you rescue as well as a spot where you can refill your equipment. As soon as you exit this room though, the game will officially start and the 5 minute timer will start to count down.
Once you exit, it’ll be up to you to navigate a series of halls and rooms. Since it’s a twin-stick shooter as well, you’ll use the left stick to move and the right stick to adjust the camera position. When you hold down either the left or right bumpers to engage either your water hose or extinguisher, the right stick then is used to aim and the camera becomes fixed. You’ll need to be acquainted with this quick because you will need to move the camera quite a bit to get a better angle on where the fires are in a room or hall.
Putting out fires isn’t the only thing you do. You also have to rescue people and cats. When you find either one of these in a room, just go up to them and hit “X” to have them follow you. You need to do so before they die from the fire. Bringing a rescued person back to the exit room will add bonus time to the countdown timer allowing you more time to run through the level. What happens when time runs out? The level doesn’t technically end. Instead, the grim reaper will come out and attempt to touch you, causing your death. You can try to outrun death and search for another survivor to lead back to the exit. Doing so will add more time and cause death to disappear until the time runs down again.
Another way to die is to just have the fires straight up engulf you. If you’re exposed to the heat of the fires or the fire itself for too long, it will cause your life hearts to disappear and then ultimately you will lose your life. I suggest not staying in a room too long that is engulfed by flames and instead just take it section by section by backing away to regain your health and cool down. There’s a bit if strategy involved so best not to go in all Rambo like.
The only way to complete a level is to completely put out all the fires. Of course with a game like this, that’s easier said than done. There’s no real way to plan ahead as each time you play, the level is completely different from the time before. All I can really suggest here is to practice and play as much as you can. The gameplay itself isn’t difficult to learn. It just takes time and effort to get good at this game.
Graphically, Flame Over doesn’t look that bad at all. Everything is presented in an isometric view from the top which gives depth to the environment. The only problem with this is that sometimes walls will block your view, but at least the game allows you to rotate the camera to alleviate this.
For the most part, everything is really bright and colorful making things very easy to see. I don’t like dark games because they make my eyes hurt over time. Since this is a game about fires, you’ll be happy to see that the rendering of fire is done quite nicely here and looks pretty realistic along with the way water and smoke looks. What doesn’t look realistic are the way the character models are as they have a more cartoony look to them. That’s okay with me as it works well in this game and gives it a more arcade-like feel to it instead of being like a sim.
Flame Over is a fun game and a rather nice twist for those who may not entirely like traditional roguelike games. The fact that it’s also a twin-stick shooter is a nice addition and one that will appeal to a wider audience. However, that doesn’t make the difficulty any less real because this game is super challenging. You’re going to die many, many, many times before even being the first level. In fact, it took me days before I was even able to beat the first level. I don’t mind though because the game is pretty fun despite its high level of difficulty.
Flame Over is available now on the PSN Store for $9.99 which isn’t bad for a game with almost infinite replayability. It makes for a great portable game you can play on the go since most of you will probably be playing this in short bursts (unless you’re really good).
Review code provided to us by the publisher/developer.
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