Review by Brandon Hall
With nothing but a flashlight, staff, and your faithful companion, everything is important and the dangers are more real in the Flame and the Flood.The Flame in the Flood was made by development team members from the studios behind Bioshock, Halo 2, and Rockband. Knowing that the development team had members from these games I already had high hopes for an engaging experience. The game is marketed as a roguelike survival game, and it holds very true to that name. Each play through is different than the last, with your character Scout trying to build a different path each game. The game may seem simple but its actually quite hard with the ever evolving levels and hazards making harder than it seems.
Starting off in the game you are met by Aesop, your faithful dog, who also serves as an expanded inventory, and you are given a slight look into what has happened to the world. The game intentionally keeps the look short and no real information is given. This adds to the mystery of the setting.
Right off the bat you receive a radio and a quest to reach higher land so the radio may be somewhat of a use. To aid you in this quest you are given some food, a jar, and crafting supplies, but nothing more. As is standard with Survival games you start out with almost nothing and have to work your way up to more complex and better recipes and items.
The first area you explore serves as a sort of tutorial, while exploring you are introduced to the supplies you will need to find, in order to make items. As well as how the food, thirst, fatigue, and cold levels work, and the rest of the games mechanics. The Cache system is also introduced as the quest giver of the game. This is where you can pick up tasks and the rewards for completing them. You also get a short look at what dangers you may face on your journey.
Once you depart the initial area on the raft we will get a chance to see the travel mechanic. Riding the rapids, we get to see the most unique bit of the game and the part which makes your decisions have lasting effects. While on the raft you can shove sideways to avoid debris and land outcroppings, but going forward makes anything you passed unobtainable. Think of it as classic Mario games where once you traveled past something it was gone.
The mechanic for rafting down the river works pretty well. While traveling, indicators will appear with different images, with a small icon indicating what they are. Some will be a tent, others a small building. There are also some icons for campsites, wildernesses, and churches which all contain supplies and usually an area to rest or cook. Passing over these areas may be more trouble than just stopping and grabbing the supplies. This is where that Mario type decision making comes in to play. The player has to choose if they want to stop or pass by the area. As everything generated is RNG based, stopping gives you the chance to find that one item that could ease your journey.
There are a few set areas including the marina, where you can upgrade your raft with more storage or durability, and the bait shop, where you can obtain fish hooks and line.
The crafting is very straightforward and schematics are unlocked by obtaining the required materials. My advice, cattails, grab them when you can because braided coils are used in everything. While most items require just materials to make, many require tools which can also be made within the crafting menu. These are used to craft traps and weaponry you can use against the wildlife for self-preservation. Early in the game a wolf can be pretty scary, but armed with a bow you have a better chance of walking away alive.
Meat is an essential item, Crafting traps is the best way to catch rabbits, boars, or even wolves which provide raw meat. Raw meat can be used to make bait, tainted bait, or food for your player character. Pelts (which also come from dead animals) can be made into clothing to better prepare you for the cold nights.
During your exploration you will come across boars, snakes, wolves, and bears. Each of these enemies will be hostile. Wolves will follow after you and attempt to slash or bite you. Failing to scare them off, find shelter, or flee will result in injuries. Boars will follow you and charge at you. Being hit by a boar will result in a broken bone injuries. Over time these injuries will heal, but there is a chance that another more severe injury will take its place. These can be healed by crafting medical supplies, or teas that correlate to the specific injury. How to solve all of these ailments can be found in the games crafting recipes.
Whether you are playing with a controller or keyboard & mouse the game controls with ease and the button layout is mapable. Using the camera to scout ahead or even give a glimpse of areas you haven’t walked can save you from anything that might jump out and bite. The rafting system is something I enjoyed, even if the controls are a bit stiff. Until you upgrade the maneuverability at a marina the raft handles as if you had one too many and can’t stay upright.
The music is beautifully composed and extremely fitting to the location the game takes place. The soundtrack was composed and performed by american songwriter and guitarist Chuck Ragan. The music flows seamlessly with the fast paced rapids and the slower more cathartic experience of gathering supplies.
Overall, this is probably one of the best and hardest survivals games I have had the pleasure of playing. With a randomly generated voyages, roguelike elements, an ample crafting system, and great music this is one game I would recommend everyone pick up.