Review: Flame Over (PS4)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Flame Over
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.1 GB)
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Laughing Jackal Ltd.
Developer: Laughing Jackal Ltd.
Original MSRP: $11.99 (US), €11.99 (EU), £8.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 7
Flame Over is also available on PlayStation Vita and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s Note:
Portions of this review also appear in our PlayStation Vita coverage of Flame Over.

Flame Over is a roguelike with a procedural level generation system that has you battling fires and saving people, and maybe a few cats. I reviewed the PS Vita version a while back and absolutely loved it, so much so that it achieved the highest accolade of 10/10. I suit-up and battle the inferno to see if the PS4 version can retain the top score.

Gameplay:
Flame Over pits your firefighter character, the ironically named Blaze, against the deadly all-consuming fire and a five-minute countdown that doesn’t end the game but instead unleashes Death to chase your poor little hero around. A single touch at this point will end your game.

Putting out fire gives your hero money that you can use in the in-game shop to buy upgrades that only last until you die. Alternatively you can spend any money you’ve earned from the last game on permanent upgrades before starting a new adventure. If you don’t then it’ll be lost forever as Blaze kindly donates it to charity.

Flame Over_20150911191357 Flame Over_20150911191610

The permanent upgrades allow Blaze to withstand fire for a longer duration, increase the speed the water supply refills, or be able to carry more water bombs, among other things. If you are lucky enough to have the Caretaker’s in-game shop appear in the level you’re playing then you can acquire some very useful but sadly per-game items, like a gas mask or defibrillator.

The difficulty comes with knowing when to spend your money. Do you spend a little bit of money and turn the tide of a single game or save it till the end and spend some more to try to unlock some upgrades that will make all the following games that little bit easier.

Fighting against the redox reactions of an exothermic chemical process of combustion, or fire as most people call it, isn’t often seen in games or films for that matter. Making fire believable in a game is a tough task to achieve, especially if it’s the only enemy and such a prominent part of the experience.

Flame Over delivers in making your hero’s nemesis a deadly primal beast that consumes everything in its path without mercy or thought but also manages to keep it fun, lighthearted, and entertaining at the same time.

Flame Over_20150911191840 Flame Over_20150911191844

Whilst you’re running around the randomly generated level you’ll have to keep a close eye on your Danger Meter, Thermometer, and the very important water and foam levels. If you let those tanks run dry it’s either a mad dash back to the start of the level to refill or find another water source for a top-up.

Let me tell you, it’s a horrible feeling when both tanks are empty and you’re stuck in the corner of a room with the fire creeping ever closer. Planning your route and making sure you have a good supply before breaking down the fire door becomes second nature, as does finding the Fuseboard to cut off the electricity supply thus avoiding the problematic electrical fires that need to be smothered in foam so they don’t reignite.

… everyone is still in danger …
You’ll also soon realize that soaking the area around the fire lowers the chance of it spreading. After many attempts I began to clear rooms a lot faster and saved more people in the process. I quickly learnt that the water spray can reach much further than the foam extinguisher and began to strafe and arc my attacks on the raging inferno.

I mentioned earlier about the permanent upgrades – these can be obtained by using tokens that you collect during the game by undertaking missions from Miss Ion, a stubborn lady that will only follow you to the exit once you have completed her bizarre request.

Most of the requests have you searching for a particular item hidden in the level. If you’re lucky this can be collected even before you’ve met the crazy lady which means you only have to collect your reward and lead her to safety.

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Other hapless individuals only have to be told to follow and they’ll accept, but everyone is still in danger and can lag behind so you’ll still have to keep an eye on them.

Your reward for leading each person to the exit is an extra minute added to the dreaded countdown, so if you plan everything correctly and the randomly generated level layout is favorable, you could put out the fire and leave with more time than you started with.

… better and faster aiming …
The rare occurrence of being briefly snagged on some scenery or accidentally turning the camera instead of using the extinguisher are the only problems I encountered with this game. The latter being my fault as I would often panic when the flames begin to surround and engulf the poor little firefighter.

After a few hours with the game it became but a distant memory. Controlling Blaze becomes second nature and the early levels will feel like child’s play. The DualShock 4 makes movement very smooth and quick, allowing for better and faster aiming which helps when playing the later levels.

The more you play this game the better at it you’ll become. Once you’ve saved enough to unlock most of the upgrades you’ll be averaging twenty minutes a game instead of two. It’s almost as if the upgrades distract you from how badly you play during the early hours and focus you on small easier goals without even trying for a perfect run to the end.

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The randomly generated levels increase the replayability of this already brilliant game. Even after I’ve played it for hours upon hours it still has me hooked. It isn’t just the levels that are randomly generated, the locations of the people who need rescuing and the fire itself is different every time.

On rare occasions you might even find a room that’s been spared the inferno’s wrath, but be careful as I assumed one particular room to be clear until the very last second when I noticed a smoldering computer in the corner. It seemed like that very moment the fire and myself both noticed each other’s existence.

A massive fireball erupted from the computer sending a wall of fire thundering toward the terrified hero. I sent the poor guy running backward into the hall, all the while spraying as much water as he could at the conflagration.

If there had been an animation for it I’m sure the firefighter would have collapsed onto his backside in relief and exhaustion as the fire struggled to take hold on the drenched carpet and died down inches away leaving only the furniture ablaze.

For the crazy few that didn’t buy the PS Vita version you can use Remote Play to experience it on the smaller screen but sadly the controls don’t work as well due to the lack of L2 and R2 triggers, so the rear touch pad is used instead. The game doesn’t share its trophies and it has that all important Platinum, which is going to be a tough one to obtain.

… more intense and powerful …
Visuals:
Flame Over is a very detailed and colorful game, built using a smooth and fluid game engine that looked great on the PS Vita and is now even better on the PS4. Water and foam persistently coat the charred remains of the lovingly detailed furniture, plants, toilet stalls, and any other thing you could think of.

You can spin the level around quickly and easily to focus on the dangers and the framerate never drops. A nice feature is the green glow at the edge of the play area, similar to that of a Fire Exit sign that always guides you to the exit of each level. It becomes an almost unconscious beacon that never steers you wrong and never gets in the way.

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I was very happy to see that the combustibles do not have an on-fire animation but instead the fire acts separately and so looks more natural than most other games and their feeble attempts. It spreads and propagates like you would expect and the only thing missing from the realism is a thick deadly smoke that would make the game almost unplayable and ruin this great experience.

The PlayStation 4 version runs at 1080p and 60FPS which helps to make the fire look more intense and powerful this time round. Opening the door to a massive blaze is an awesome eyeball melting sight and I can almost feel the heat radiating from the inferno. The main menu looks a bit cleaner and coins look shiny as if straight from the Mint.

Audio:
Flame Over includes an exciting and fun soundtrack that gives it a charming personality all its own. The nice thing is that it changes depending on the level you’re on. A catchy and upbeat jazz tune plays during the game with a blend of office sounds thrown into the mix which makes it feel fun and in keeping with the level design.

… eye-blisteringly fantastic …
Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only but does feature leaderboards to view how you rate compared with friends and the rest of the players worldwide. Part of me hoped this version might feature a two player split-screen mode or a weekly challenge of some sort but that’s just the greedy gamer in me wanting more of a great thing.

Conclusion:
Flame Over breathes life into a very unique genre that forces you to accept death as another gameplay mechanic. Battling a deadly fire and rescuing its potential victims is strangely addictive.

With death always minutes or even seconds away it’s always a frantic and tense experience that has me playing until my DualShock 4 battery drains. Flame Over is just as good as it was on the PS Vita and looks eye-blisteringly fantastic on the big screen.

Score:
10

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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  • mickeyGfunk

    may check this out thanks to your review

    • ChazzH69

      Let us know what you think of it. 🙂

      • mickeyGfunk

        it’s not bad! reminds me of ignition factor on the super famicon like 20 years ago. remember that!?

        • ChazzH69

          Yes, I remember. Good game.