It's a rogue-lite survival wilderness out there! (review-lite/play through breakdown)

The Flame in the Flood
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:

    1. 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.
    1. procedurally generated environment - at the moment you wipe & restart the map resets & you need to stumble around in the dark again.
    1. 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.

Playthrough 1:

  1. Managed to make it to 3 locales before getting gored to death by a Boar… body showed signs of multiple broken bones & lacerations…
  2. This Scout visited 2 locations before chancing upon another campsite with a Boar present. Learnt the hard way that, unlike Ravens, Boars are not dissuaded by waving your staff at them. Escaped with a broken bone and lacerations. The SCout was prepared with a Splint & mended the broken leg quickly. The Lacerations however were left exposed as no bandages or sewing kit were yet in the inventory. The journey continued down the river. Two more locations visited with little to show for scavenging. Supplies began to run low, but water was plentiful. on leaving the 2nd site the lacerations finally closed, but looks to have contracted a nasty Staph Infection. Will monitor, but with no Penicillin available to treat outlook is bleak. Next campsite provided bandages… that’s just typical, no food left, hunger is setting in. Back on the river and the Staph Infection turns to Sepsis. The condition of the Scout worsens exponentially as starvation sets in at the same time… in the end it is Famine rather than Plague that collects the Scout.
  3. All progresses well with the Scout through multiple landings until a moment’s inattention on the river sends the raft crashing multiple times into objects in the rapids. The Raft is severely damaged and as a repair Marina sails by down a different fork the Scout’s Raft disintegrates as it slams into a semi-submerged car. As water fills the Scout’s lungs, he realises it now 1am & really he should be in bed.

Playthrough 2:

  1. Scout gets a good run of scavenged parts and is able to craft his first set of snares, as well as insulating his thin jacket and boots. Catches a few rabbits, skins them and cooks the meat. A Bait Shop a few stops down the river provides the necessary components to make a few Sewing Kits. The 3 rabbit pelts soon become a hat, gloves, and a pouch to increase holding size. With the ability to build a campfire on demand and a 2nd empty jar the Scout has it all in the bag. Pity he didn’t scavenge any rating skill as the Raft bounces around the river like a pinball. But he manages to get to the next region and trip the checkpoint in the middle of a thunderstorm while navigating rapids. Unfortunately the raft has only 10% structural integrity left and he learns an important life lesson that filling the empty Jar in the rain, means that you are no longer piloting the raft… a watery end results.
  2. The Scout restarts at the checkpoint in the same tempest. He tries to navigate his way down the rapids to a safe landing, knowing a single collision will be his last… he tries, in vain.
  3. Same as 2.
  4. Same as 2.
  5. Same as 2.
  6. The scout swings his deteriorating floating vessel around the final submerged car wreck & manages to just make to the wilderness landing. During scavenging he is suddenly ambushed by his first Wolf. His carcass was last seen being dragged into the forest by the mangy cur.
  7. Same as 2.
  8. Some epic piloting results in a perfect run down the river and as luck would have it the first available stop is a Marina where the raft is repaired from 10% back up to 70% integrity. So far no ability to upgrade the raft in any manner has been crafted. Progress through the region is good with one area providing enough Saplings and Cattails to build 2x Spear Traps, a Box Trap and Snares. Using the Snares results in more Rabbits, which provides pelts for a further pouch upgrade and some fine Rabbit fur Pants. The raw meat is salted to produce Jerky & a final piece of Raw Meat is treated with Devils Trumpet to make Tainted Meat. Another empty jar filled up at a pump allows the brewing of a fine Dandelion Tea. At the next location the Box Trap is set up amongst a crowed rabbit area. The Scout heads back to the Raft to sort out his inventory before exploring the area further. For some inexplicable reason he refloats his raft & heads down the river, leaving his Box Trap uncollected & the area unsearched… decisions like this can be costly and he knows he can ill afford to screw up like that again. The next curve in the river is the start of another region and another checkpoint. Wonders upon wonders the Scout survives the entire region with nothing more exciting than a single Wolf encounter, dispatched with the Tainted Meat, providing more raw meat and his first Wolf Pelt. In the next region the Scout’s decision to brew Dandelion Tea earlier pays off as an almost fatal Snake Bite is treated with ease. So too is a Boar dispatched using the Spear Trap. But unfortunately the lack of ability navigating the river is yet again the Scout’s downfall as his Raft collides into a bank and the Scout is washed away.

I got murdered when I played this game…


teh_g said in It's a rogue-lite survival wilderness out there! (review-lite/play through breakdown):

I got murdered when I played this game…

It would make a pleasant change from drowning all the time :confused:

Further Deaths of note:

Dead due to Snake Bite after blundering about in the dark & getting bitten 4 times with only 3 doses of medicinal tea & no ability to make a fire to brew more!

Gored to Death by the Boar King… Started a fight I couldn’t finish with a single spear trap. The mass of shattered limbs, indicate that a futile attempt to flee from the gigantic beast was a less than heroic end to the Scout.