Review: The Flame in the Flood
The good thing I believe with the indie scene is that, from time to time, and like a young child opening a gift wrap, you come across a little nugget, a game that came almost out of the blue and gives you a unique gaming experience. This is the case today with The Flame in the Flood, the launch title of indie based studio: The Molasses Flood. Formed by veterans of Irrational, Harmonix, and Bungie, (Scott Sinclair, Damian Isla, Forrest Dowling, Bryn Bennett, Gwen Frey, and Chad LaClair) The Molasses Flood managed to fund the game via a largely successful Kickstarter that was concluded on Nov. 6 with $251,647 raised. So what’s that game all about?
If you liked Klei Entertainment’s Don’t Starve, but are looking for a gripping adventure that will inspire emotions,The Flame in the Flood would be a good pick. You play as “Scout” a young girl with her faithful companion “Aesop” in a post-apocalyptic America that is undergoing major floods, which will subject our little heroine to delicate situations.
Visually clean, powered by Unreal Engine 4 and highly influenced by the palette of these ex-Bioshock Infinite developers, The Flame in the Flood features a nice gameplay mechanic and structure. Although there’s no presentation of how America became this flooded country now, your main goal is to move a along a river which, incidentally, is randomly generated by the engine to find a place to lay low and survive. The action takes place in two phases: the first being the main map of the game, a vast river, on which you will navigate and survive the currents. Time is of vital importance to your journey because, indeed, the river can quickly turn into torrents, difficult to control your raft in, after heavy rain which also have negative influence on your character.
Other than controlling this raft of death, you’ll find key land locations for Scout to land on, and explore. An abandoned camp, a fisherman’s hut, a forest, these places will be marked on your map and you will have to get there in order to recover various resources necessary for your survival. And that’s where the similarities with Klei’s game come in, but also new mechanics. Your character has four main survival bars to watch for: Food / Thirst / Temperature / Fatigue. You must therefore satisfy all of these elements to survive, and you can rely on your faithful companion that will help you barking on the resources you have forgotten.
Like Don’t starve, resources are harvested directly by walking over them on the map and will stack up in your backpack. Twigs to make fire, fruits to snack, phial of water that you will need to purify with a fire (at the risk of catching diseases), and within minutes your inventory will be filled quickly, and you will have to make sensible choices, because you can not take everything with you. And considering Scout and Aesop are constantly under pressure by rain, hunger, lack of sleep, illness, and creatures that will eat you, you will spend your entire time into crisis-management mode and each decision will be crucial for your survival.
Currently my record is about 2 hours of surviving in one game
Currently my record is about 1-2 hours of surviving in one game, but I’m sure that a seasoned Rust or Don’t Starve player, you can go on for much more. Over time, more areas emerge with different biomes, and of course with the river being randomly generated, you’ll end up finding a new way to get to a safe spot every time.
To give you an example, I started the adventure with some items from the previous game, which I had the good sense to store in the backpack of my faithful canine companion. I had indeed thought of purifying water that I picked up in my flask, I had some food reserves to take for a few days, my health was good, and didn’t seem like it was going to rain.
Unfortunately in The Flame in the Flood, you learn quickly that comfort is a very ephemeral luxury, and that the slightest error always triggers the worst consequences. As I hit down on the river to venture for a new safe spot, my raft hit a rock in the middle of the rapids, and I fell into the water. Luckily I managed to get back on board and avoid drowning, but the damage was already done. I was wet, and had to find a shelter quickly to dry myself and avoid catching cold, which would inevitably weaken me for the rest of my trip. But since it was night, the wolves were waiting to devour me by the river banks, forcing me to continue my descent, and take more risks.
Back on the land after a risky decision to try my luck before getting hypothermia, I made my way to find a shelter, soaking wet. While hunger and thirst began to rise the urgency to find a dry place, I ended up forgetting that the water collected upstream few islands ago, had not been purified and I swallowed a good mouthful to quench my thirst. Dysentery wasn’t quick to hit me, but it weakened me quite radically. And so with my amazing luck, there was no plants on my way to craft the needed drug, and shortly after, Scout died on her way to the raft after losing consciousness. Hey, but in the end, I managed to hold three days this one time, which is better than I ever did. It’s a ruthless world that therefore requires attention at all times in order not to lose its life. But you know what ? It was a great experience and I’m ready to attempt the adventure once more.
The soundtrack is also a great synergy with the theme and vibes of the game. Performed and written by folk/Americana artist Chuck Ragan, you can tell the Texan musician was deeply in tune with the inspiration of the developers, being a fight for survival, crafting and a setting that looks like the Mississippi and Bayou wilderness.
The Flame in the Flood was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by The Molasses Flood. The game is also available on PC via digital release. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• An endearing graphical style
• This amazing sensation discovery
• Difficulty more manageable than Don't Starve
• Filled with secrets, items, creatures
• A different adventure every time
• Soundtrack works perfectly with the theme
• Can quickly become daunting
• Sometimes very unfair