The Flame in the Flood http://store.steampowered.com/app/318600/
Developer: The Molasses Flood
So this little game arrived in the December 2016 Humble Monthly & one night short on things to do (Grim Dawn failing to sync to my previous save) I downloaded this & got to playing.
Now I LOVE rogue-lite/-like games. Mainly for the reason that they prove that happiness is fleeting & the Universe is just waiting around the corner to kick you in the teeth & tell you to do better next time. But just because I LOVE something doesn’t mean I’m any good at them; it all depends on the game, I excelled at the tactical aspect of FTL, but sucked the big fat one with the CastleVania-esque platforming of Rogue Legacy. For me the best part of the R-L genre is that you can pick up the game & play for the sake of enjoyment because you’ve got a 30 minute window or you can sit down & try to make real progress in an extended window of play.
For those that don’t understand what a Rogue-lite game is, a decent R-L breaks down into a couple of neat factors:
- Single Life & Permadeath (though there are some games that skirt around this) so as you play you need to balance your thirst for progress with the understanding that fucking up will wipe your playthrough & send you hurtling back to the beginning.
- procedurally generated environment - at the moment you wipe & restart the map resets & you need to stumble around in the dark again.
- a method of advancement - as you progress you somehow make the next run a little bit easier by skilling up your base character, or building a base, or providing equipment for the next playthrough.
So I was excited to see this little gem sitting there asking to be played & I’m giving it a go. The premise seems to be simple you’re a Scout camper left abandoned (or maybe sole survivor) at the starting campsite in a valley that’s been decimated by a flood. You make your way down the flodded river on a cobbled together raft, stopping at locations of interest to scavenge for supplies as you battle, hunger, thirst, exposure & fatigue. Through out the journey you chance upon deadly beasts & must craft implements to fend off or kill them & so scavenge more raw materials to help you on your journey. A happy little helpful dog (Aesop) is your constant companion & advises you to materials to harvest or potential threats. But a wrong turn can send you spiraling down to an often messy death, at which point Aesop finds himself a new Scout to accompany.
Overall graphically it’s neat - very much in the 90’s animation vein like Psychonauts, so stylised as opposed to realistic, but there’s a level of beauty present with the ever-changing weather & light. Beautiful dawn glow or dusky haze can change to a dismal grey overcast day before a pitch black howling lightning storm sets in. The sound layers itself on top to produce a lovely environment, with birds, wind & wild beasts adding to the atmosphere.
Crafting relies on scavenging raw materials, but there’s very little help as to how to utilise items effectively. But the whole survival aspect is neat and progresses simply. Your main method of dealing with beats is traps/snares or bait. and successfully dispatching a critter nets you furs/hide & the ability to further upgrade your gear.
There are also fellow survivors of the flood present but I’m assuming that, despite my initial favourable conversations with the ones I have met, they tone of future meetings will be less than cordial.
Now on death only the gear that was present on your dog carries over to the new character, making the choice of what is ready to use on your character vs what to leave for your eventual successor a balancing act. Inventory management is an issue until you build more pouches & raft space, so I have ended up having to pick & choose what to carry & what to leave behind. But the game does make it a tiny bit easier for you by splitting the river into regions & entering a new region will set a checkpoint save for your character, so once you’ve progressed a certain distance you are able to restart from that checkpoint vs miles back down the river at the initial camp. But the checkpoint occurs exactly at the start of a new region & on the river… so as I found out a checkpoint starting on the rapids with your severely damaged raft is equal parts exhilarating & frustrating.
I’m enjoying the game, it’s both challenging and simple enough to just sit at home and get dragged into a 3 hour session. As a part of a Monthly Humble Bundle, it added to the worth of that month hugely for me.
I thought I would carry on the post below with a breakdown of the death toll of my run through, but also if you have questions/comments add them below too.