+Battery consumption is minimal while playing in handheld mode on the Switch
+Transitions well as a console/handheld hybrid title
+One of the most enjoyable games thanks to its artistic direction
+Resources are scarce, forcing players to understand survival
-Menu’s can be hard to navigate
-Extremely unforgiving for new players
-Could have used a simpler crafting and menu navigation system
It’s been an interesting couple of months with The Flame in the Flood. On the surface, it’s a game that presents players with a beautifully crafted world, one that uses stylized art and charming audio for fans to enjoy. What isn’t apparent to those paying extreme attention to detail is something a bit more detailed: The Flame in the Flood by Molasses Flood’s debut title is not near as charming. It’s the harsh reality of what it’s like to survive.
Over the course of Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to sit down, grab the switch, and take a whirl at this magnificent title I’ve been watching Dustin play. Instead of letting him review it, I’ve decided to take my own little adventure, one where I had to survive through many of the games core elements. Ones such as hunger, thirst, sleep, broken bones, attacks by wild animals, and even an intense need for the small comforts in a flood ravaged world.
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My experience was anything but dull. It was harsh and unforgiving within this title, one that seeks to draw players in by immersing them, and giving them whatever they need in order to fight for their life. It’s a game that offers a sense of realism through its attention to detail and the way it has players utilize their findings in unforeseen ways. What serves as one of the games greatest strengths also turns into one of the games ultimate weaknesses after more than 20 hours of gameplay.
My story isn’t going to be experienced in the same ways as others. For me, my adventure started off with Scout, her dog Daisy, and their reluctance to leave their almost flooded island. In order to survive, players find that Scout and her companion need to leave the island, and find a way to survive the progressing storm. But that also means that resources are scarce, that Scout and her dog Daisy will have to salvage what they can from once non-flooded areas.
On these interesting little island-like locales, I often found myself having to hunt down supplies, often crafting what I could right there and then, only to place some of them in Daisy’s pack, and once more making my way through these various locations. some of them even including upgrades for Scout and Daisy’s raft. But this wasn’t my end-game goal. My final goal would be to reach a local radio tower and signal for help by enhancing its radio transmission strength.
During my journey, I often found myself stopping across many of the games procedurally generated areas, areas that came with minimal to life threatening dangers. One encounter had me stand off against a stranded bear, one that wasn’t going to back down, and sent me fighting for my own survival. During my encounter with the bear, I found my leg break, my character getting beaten down, and forced to craft some gear to set the broken bone, and help send Scout back on her way.
Some of my encounters were less threatening, leading me to set out traps using random materials I found, a few berries, and luring rabbits into it. That way I could grab resources I need such as meat and various crafting materials to help survive. Sometimes I even found small items hidden in brush piles, abandoned houses, and once-occupied wood piles. In them I would find various things such as string, twine, hooks, cloth, and even fluids to drink.
I even encountered a few random survivors like myself, one in particular standing out among the rest: the Gravedigger. Unfortunately, he’s one of the few I did encounter during my stent as a survivor, an adventure that came to an end due to my struggle to find food int he games later portions of the story. Admirably, I fell in love with this game, and came to actually appreciate it for its artistic value.
But what’s less admirable is the constraints I found myself constantly battling, which were both interesting, as well as difficult: a limited backpack supply for both Scout and Daisy, but also having to dock at one or two islands in a cluster of many. At first, I did find myself frustrated early on. I was commonly giving up small materials I needed in order to craft my items needed to gather food, repair my raft, or even heal Scout back to full health.
Secondly, I would sometimes find myself having to skimp out on islands that I’d been ready for, ones that I’d patiently waited to get my hands on, but was only forced down stream to see. This one, is the most frustrating one out of the bunch, one that caused me to almost impulsively dart towards them in order to try and obtain their valuable resources. Sadly, the harshest lesson here is the best: survival won’t always give you what you need. Instead it’s about taking what you have and making the most out of it. If you can embrace this idea, you may actually get ahead sooner than later, and even enjoy “going with the flow”, as they say.
This makes short-term prioritization the most important within your want to impulsively make decisions. To put it briefly, The Flame in the Flood is all about planning, prioritization, and keeping track of your own inventory. But don’t think it’s something you’ll get the hang of immediately. This game is one that wants you to learn from a number of failures,struggles, and an inability to quickly learn what ever item within the game does.
For example, you may want to find keeping uncommon fire-starting materials in order to keep warm, dry, and able to build a safe place to sleep. This is more vital than hoarding food. After all, food does expire, and comes in quite a few forms for you to survive off of. In turn, you will find yourself struggling to find sources for your fire, and camping needs. Once you get your priorities worked out, you’ll be just fine while making your way through some of the games later stages,
Working out any priorities you have, will be key, and designating what resources you will want to keep in stock are just as important for later on. The hardest part of this game isn’t just about surviving. It’s about learning when you need to let go of some of the games more valuable resources. That – that is what makes this game feel like a true survival story despite its interesting art style.
Unfortunately, while the game is enjoyable, there are a few minor nuisances this game comes to the forefront with. One is the essential task of navigating the games user interface via the menus. While sorting through your inventory, you may get a bit flustered due to the clunky approach it has. Unlike games such as Minecraft, Terraria, or Conan Exiles, this isn’t nearly as easy. The crafting options are just as taxing as well. The three titles mentioned before weren’t. They were simple, easy to navigate, and quite forgiving when it came to navigating those games’ multiple categories of items to be crafted.
While all information you need to know is there, The Flame in the Flood gets frustrating since it has all the categories of items to be crafted on a singular page. This single page shows off its multiple subcategories, which as stated, are accessed through a single play. Sadly, inventory management, and crafting are two distinctly different pages. This forces players to jump pages when seeing what components they are missing and what they may have in stock. This needlessly difficult task is something that shouldn’t exist and shouldn’t force players to need a pen, paper, and keen memory of what items dropped from what location.
The Flame in the Flood – Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Developer: The Molasses Flood
Publisher: The Molasses Flood
Release Date: Available Now
Even with the hours I’ve put into the game, I still found myself struggling with the games menu system, which I can only assume would have been easier had I been playing on PC, but instead I sit here discussing the Nintendo Switch version of the game. But don’t let this fool you, even with the Switch version being the games “Definitive Edition”, let me make this clear, the game is still hard to navigate, but it’s fun, it’s beautiful, and it’s experience I’d never experienced before.
But if you’re a fan for navigating a flood, dodging rocks, debris, and staying work while trying to survive, then you may enjoy this game as I had. You may enjoy the idea of traveling to procedurally generated islands, fighting off the wild life that hunt you, and even taking in the sight of what was once some of humanities greatest achievements in this games world. You may even find some pleasure in darting side to side in order to navigate the games violent rapids, finding that small upgrade you need for your raft as you munch in the last few bites of campfire cooked squirrel.
After all – You are The Flame in the Flood.
Our review is based upon a retail version provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.