Flame in the Flood is a cell shaded survival game that sees players take on the role of a seemingly lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic setting. Water levels have risen leaving only pockets of dry land in a vast and dangerous new world.
Players take control of a young woman named Scout. A lone survivor in the wilderness trying to get by. Scout is accompanied by a dog names Aesop; apart from providing compansion in this lonely new world, Aesop can also sniff out potential danger, resources and supplies, as well as help carry excess items. The world has been submerged with little land left to walk on, save a few islands. Scout navigates the vast openness using a makeshift raft – her lifeline in a world filled with nothing but death.
Flame in the Flood reminds me of Don’t Starve; minus the horrifying beasts that terrorise the night. As with most survival games, the premises is fairly simple. Players must keep an eye on Scout’s various conditions – thirst, hunger, energy and warmth- keep her alive by foraging for materials, food and shelter. Neglecting any one of these conditions and can, and will, result in certain death for our would-be-wanderer. The tutorial is pretty brief and lasts long enough to tell you the basic mechanics of the game, but other than that, you’re on your own, save the ever-present barks of Aesop as he locates more and more materials for you to gather and store away.
The crafting system works fairly well but I did find it was a little tricky to navigate. Scout’s journal shows a number of items that can be crafted and providing the materials are present they can be made real. From a simple flint to light a campfire to more complex builds to strengthen your raft can be built to help you progress through the watery world. Providing you find the right materials, Scout is also able to craft her own clothing – essential to help keep her warm when it gets colder.
The crafting system overall is okay, but by no means perfect. Navigating the GUI of the menu feels like more of a chore than a tool designed to help. Simple options such as sorting your inventory have a needless number of steps where I feel a couple of button pushes would be more than enough to get the task done. Finding the items needed to complete a craft can also be a source of irritation, moving backwards and forwards through the menus, I found myself writing down more of the key items I needed.
Foraging for items and resources at first is pretty overwhelming. Until you’ve learned what is useful and what is not it’s easy to get swept away in collecting everything going. As stated earlier, the only patches of land left are small islands, each which may contain their own theme of items available to them. Searching through these from top to bottom will not always yield the items needed to craft a certain item. This can be a little tedious, especially if it’s something you need in order to stay alive. As you play through you’ll begin to learn what’s good to keep hold of and when it’s better to use an item straight away.
The art style of The Flame in the Flood is stunning and its accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack that doesn’t intrude on the feeling of being alone. Soft guitar tones play in the background overlayed with the sounds of strong winds and rustling bushes. It genuinely helps pull you into the game and despite playing in the comfort and warmth of my own home, I couldn’t help but shake off a shiver of cold; almost if I had been dragged into this dismal world of wet, wind and cold.
Overall The Flame in the Flood is a beautifully presented game which does what it set out to do: be a survival game. It takes a while to get used to and some of the game mechanics are a little tedious but the main gameplay is good fun once you’ve gotten used to how it wants you to play. If you’re not into survival games then The Flame in the Flood probably won’t suit your personality, but if you like a challenge or you’re a big fan of Don’t Starve, it’s definitely worth a go.