The Flame in the Flood Complete Edition Review

the flame in the flood complete edition review

Game: The Flame in the Flood Complete Edition
Developer: The Molasses Flood
Publisher: The Molasses Flood
Console: PS4 (Reviewed on PS4 Pro), Xbox On, PC
Release Date: January 17, 2017

I somehow missed The Flame in the Flood when it first debuted on Steam in February of last year. It just flew under my radar, so I’m really glad that its PlayStation 4 release this month caught my attention. Survival games aren’t necessarily my cup of tea, but I was strangely drawn to this one for the uniquely gorgeous art style (it wouldn’t be the first time I was attracted to a game for aesthetic reasons).

 The Flame in the Flood is a rogue-lite river journey down a post-societal, procedurally generated Mississippi River, created by veterans of the BioshockHaloGuitar Hero, and Rockband series.

The beautiful graphics courtesy of the Bioshock Art Director and Chuck Ragan’s fantastic alt-Americana soundtrack combine to make the game wonderfully atmospheric. It’s definitely one of the best video game soundtracks in recent memory. The deceptively relaxed banjo-heavy music is perfect for cruising down the river in a homemade raft, and can almost make you forget about the dark post-apocalyptic nature of the game for a moment. It fits perfectly with the deep South setting and gives the impression that you’re just floating along on a joyride instead of fighting for survival on the ruins of Earth.

The deceptively relaxed banjo-heavy music is perfect for cruising down the river in a homemade raft, and can almost make you forget about the dark post-apocalyptic nature of the game for a moment. It fits perfectly with the deep South setting and gives the impression that you’re just floating along on a joyride instead of fighting for survival on the ruins of Earth.

You wake up on an island called Camp Pinewood beside a lit fire with your dog companion (you can choose between two, Aesop and Daisy). The starting island contains a few bare necessities and signs that explain the very basics to you. You then hop on a raft and travel down the river, and from that point forward, the game does not hold your hand at all. It’s definitely not one of the more difficult survival games out there, but there’s a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning as you work out how to defeat various enemies, cure various ailments, and how to use each resource most efficiently. Much of the fun lies in this experimentation, often through trial-and-error (and death). As a result, each accomplishment in the game feels highly satisfying.

You then hop on a raft and travel down the river, and from that point forward, the game does not hold your hand at all. It’s definitely not one of the more difficult survival games out there, but there’s a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning as you work out how to defeat various enemies, cure various ailments, and how to use each resource most efficiently. Much of the fun lies in this experimentation, often through trial-and-error (and death). As a result, each accomplishment in the game feels highly satisfying.

Much of the fun lies in this experimentation, often through trial-and-error (and death). As a result, each accomplishment in the game feels highly satisfying.

From there on, the islands are all procedurally generated, so it’s a total crapshoot whether you’ll actually get what you need; I suppose it’s somewhat true-to-life in that way. The difficulty level affects how many resources spawn, but there’s no guarantee what type they will be; therefore, you might get an overabundance of, say, cattails, but you can’t find saplings anywhere. Both are essential to crafting the things you need to survive, so resource and inventory management are important components of the gameplay.

Both are essential to crafting the things you need to survive, so resource and inventory management are important components of the gameplay.

The focus, however, is entirely on the gameplay and overall aesthetic; The Flame in the Flood is extremely light on story. I didn’t find myself missing it too much, but you have to be okay with the fact that you never really find out what happened to the world or where Scout came from. Scout, in fact, is pretty nondescript. There is an overarching mission that pushes you toward the end of the river, but it’s pretty thin. The focus here is definitely on the gameplay, which is highly enjoyable but does become somewhat monotonous by about the seventh region. Once you’ve built up a decent stockpile of food and resources and gotten all the raft upgrades, survival becomes incredibly easy and there’s no real reason to stop at any of the islands. There is little variation in the environment so it’s unlikely you’ll see something that you haven’t before. You may come across caches that offer you a quest and allow you to collect rewards from previously completed quests, but again, if you’re already well-stocked these rewards are superfluous. The quests are usually fairly simple, often requiring you to stop at a particular type of island or kill a certain enemy, so they are not terribly interesting in and of themselves.

Once you’ve built up a decent stockpile of food and resources and gotten all the raft upgrades, survival becomes incredibly easy and there’s no real reason to stop at any of the islands. There is little variation in the environment so it’s unlikely you’ll see something that you haven’t before. You may come across caches that offer you a quest and allow you to collect rewards from previously completed quests, but again, if you’re already well-stocked these rewards are superfluous. The quests are usually fairly simple, often requiring you to stop at a particular type of island or kill a certain enemy, so they are not terribly interesting in and of themselves.

The crafting system is not hugely extensive, but it’s reasonably in-depth considering the length and scope of the game. You can make clothing of varying quality from different types of animal hides, cook several types of food, and create multiple tools to aid in your survival such as traps and water filters. You can even use materials you find along the way to repair and build upgrades for your raft. The raft itself offers another gratifying gameplay element, as steering it down the river is somewhat of a challenge, just as one would expect controlling a homemade raft through river rapids would be; you have to carefully steer to avoid debris, and you move with the current so there’s no stopping. Before you get certain raft upgrades, you often have to strategically choose between different types of islands to stop at, as you will come across multiple types at once and once you go past, there’s no turning back.

You can even use materials you find along the way to repair and build upgrades for your raft. The raft itself offers another gratifying gameplay element, as steering it down the river is somewhat of a challenge, just as one would expect controlling a homemade raft through river rapids would be; you have to carefully steer to avoid debris, and you move with the current so there’s no stopping. Before you get certain raft upgrades, you often have to strategically choose between different types of islands to stop at, as you will come across multiple types at once and once you go past, there’s no turning back.

Before you get certain raft upgrades, you often have to strategically choose between different types of islands to stop at, as you will come across multiple types at once and once you go past, there’s no turning back.

The Flame in the Flood complete edition review ps4

There are two different modes: campaign, in which there is an overarching mission and the river is divided into ten regions, or endless. Entering a new region triggers a checkpoint, which you will be able to load at in the event of your death if you play on “Traveler”, the easier game mode. In that mode, your dog will hold onto its inventory when you die as well. It is a rogue-lite, so if you play on “Survivalist”, death is permanent. Endless is just what it sounds like; there’s no story, you just have to survive as long as you can. There are a number of ways to die; trust me, I’m pretty sure I found them all. Caution is a must, as one misfortune can set you back considerably, and if you run headlong onto an island you may come across a boar quite suddenly and end up with some fractured bones.

There are a number of ways to die; trust me, I’m pretty sure I found them all. Caution is a must, as one misfortune can set you back considerably, and if you run headlong onto an island you may come across a boar quite suddenly and end up with some fractured bones.

The procedural generation means that no two playthroughs will ever be exactly the same, lending the game some replayability value. It’s definitely a game I can see myself picking up here and there in the future when the mood strikes me. Considering I spent about 15 hours on it the first time around (including the several times I started over completely), that makes it well worth the price of $14.99.

Simply put, The Flame in the Flood is a stunning river journey with highly satisfying survival elements that casual fans of the genre will undoubtedly enjoy. Hardcore fans might find it a little on the easy side, but it’s an enjoyable experience nonetheless, with rewarding game mechanics that almost negate the lack of story and monotony of the environment. It’s the kind of game that sucks you in immediately and is completely addictive for a short while but then grows old fairly quickly. However, it’s also the type of game you’ll probably get the urge to pick up from time to time to see if you can surpass your previous survival record, so that alone makes it worthwhile.

However, it’s also the type of game you’ll probably get the urge to pick up from time to time to see if you can surpass your previous survival record, so that alone makes it worthwhile.

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