A new title joins the PlayStation Vita market, and it goes by the name of Flame Over. Created by the developer Laughing Jackal, the game is a top-down, rogue-like "shooter" that will also be arriving on the PlayStation 4 at a later date. Will this game rise up to the success of the developer's previous games OMG HD Zombies! and Hungry Giraffe, or will it flame out of existence?
The player plays as a simple but determined fireman by the name of Blaze Carruthers, douser of flames and saviour of people and cats, alike. You venture through four different locations as you battle raging fires by utilizing your extinguisher and water hose, assigned to the L and R buttons, respectively. At first, Flame Over presents a straight-forward introduction to the gameplay -- moving in any direction with the left stick and using the right stick to reposition the camera angle -- but moves on to present so many different factors that make this game not only difficult, but intricate in its rouge-like design.
The gameplay is simplistic and yet the different scenarios in which the player finds themself are quite difficult; the levels you enter are Office, Executive, Labs, and Factory. This set-up is really well done, as each consecutive level is more difficult than the last and presents a new challenge to face. For example, in Labs there are chemicals that produce a green fire that is more difficult to put out than regular fire. The strategy to this is to usually douse the flame with extinguisher, then wash away the chemical with the hose. It makes the game fun and challenging, having to think before you move ahead as each door that you encounter doesn't reveal what's behind it.
Flame Over presents the player with a plethora of activities to do throughout each floor. These activities range from shutting off the electricity panel, effectively avoiding more electrical fires, to escorting people and cats to exits for time and life, respectively. You can attempt to do all of these things at once but it eats up time going back and forth, not to mention that you have to refill your canisters with extinguisher and water. Once the timer runs out, however, Death (and I do mean the literal Reaper) will start chasing you down. You can potentially complete a level with 00:00 time but, as the time is carried over to the next floor in single-run, you'll have to find someone to rescue in order to add a minute before Death grabs you. Also, if not enough people are rescued then Satan will come after you as well, proving that you're a horrible person for not saving a life. A map is handy so that the player can plan their root ahead of time, but then again not everything is visible from the get-go. There are power-ups for this.
Each floor is randomly generated and, because of this, one of the minor faults comes in the placement of Miss Ion -- a character that won't move until her missions are complete -- when she is placed in the middle of a chemical fire. Whilst trying to frantically douse the flames, she will instead die in your arms and leave you angry at the randomly placed inferno that caused this. Otherwise, the fact that each level is a different experience is quite refreshing; patterns to the random layout of rooms will start to emerge, but otherwise players will have tons of replay value in this game.
Many power-ups are purchasable on certain floors in a shop that you can find. You earn coins while dousing fire and use these towards purchasing usable items or upgrades. The upgrades include the defibrillator, holy water, a larger water tank, and more. They are usable only through a single playthrough, but are very useful as they create an easier experience for the player. There are also permanent upgrades as well, such as speeding up the time it takes to refill your water tank from taps or toilets. They are unlockable with special tokens obtained from completing Miss Ion missions, and then purchasing the next level in each with money. This creates incentive to complete Miss Ion's missions as to make your next playthrough easier. The combination of these permanent and temporary power-ups creates replay value and makes you want to constantly try again in order to get those tougher Trophies in the game.
The Trophies for Flame Over are very intense and extremely challenging. An example of the toughness is to complete the game while collecting every person, cat, and completing every activity from Miss Ion. They are extremely tough and not for players with weak fingers. To complete this game, a player will really need to learn the finer strategies to tackling each level.
To sum up Flame Over, it's a difficult game. It can be challenging, and quite frustrating, as there is a hill to climb in learning ways to tackle a certain situation or avoid Death, but a player will eventually teach themselves the more complicated strategies to the game. The upgrades, power-ups, and randomized levels are fantastic for replay value and the game just makes you feel awesome as you douse the flames with your hose and/or extinguisher.
The reviewer spent 6 hours frustratingly fighting through the fire and flames in Flame Over and gained 14 out of the 36 trophies. The reviewer needs to tighten his firefighting belt and go save some more kittens. A PlayStation Vita copy of the game was provided courtesy of the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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