Being a science fiction fan and a bit of a nerd in general, I often imagined what I would do if the world as we knew it were to end. How would I survive if the dead took over or maybe even robots? I thought my plans were pretty solid, but I had never thought what I would do if the world was to flood. This is probably in part to me living in Ohio and I’m fairly certain we have more of a chance of zombies being a problem than flooding than someone say on the East Coast. Anyway, when I was given the Flame in the Flood I started to realize I was woefully unprepared. It’s an entertaining game that is a lot more challenging than it initially appears.
Unlike a lot of games that are currently out, the Flame in the Flood puts you directly into the game with only a very brief intro video.There is no backstory to the end of the world and no seeing the main character, Scout, in her life before the apocalyptic flood. My first time playing through the game I really had no strategy and went around collecting everything that I could pick-up. This soon presented a problem because only 10 of each item can be carried and the amount of items that can be carried is limited between Scout and her dog. Unfortunately, this meant having to break away from my “over packing just in case” mentality and having to eat what I could and discard the rest. It is also good to note that rummaging through the backpack doesn’t pause the game so it’s very much safety first when looking through your loot. Even with eating everything, including earthworms, that I could find that wasn’t labeled poisonous, I still managed to die by starvation.
Each subsequent time I played the game I feel like I improved my survival strategy. I tried to focus more on food and water than supplies that I didn’t really need as badly, such as alcohol that can only be used for certain types of ailments. The Flame in the Flood is very crafting based so I tried to plan ahead for what I would need and try to find dual purposes for items such as killing a rabbit provides food and an upgrade for clothing. I survived longer each time, so I must have been doing something right in maintaining the balance of hunger, thirst, temperature, and rest, although I also succumbed to sepsis a few times and hypothermia.
Death is pretty final in the Flame in the Flood. There is no magic potion that can be used nor can the dog bring any supplies to help revive you. There are checkpoints along the way that can be used if you die, yet the few times I did use a checkpoint I felt like I was too deep in a terrible playing strategy to really recover. There is also no save option which is one of the things that irritated me about the game.Taking a break meant leaving the game running and also not being able to use other applications on the PlayStation. It also meant not playing on my lunch break, which was rather disappointing because I really enjoyed playing it, but had to opt for a different game during the limited time I had to play.
Surviving after the flood is a lonely existence sans the company of Aesop the dog. Along the way I met a small collection of characters including a couple of feral children. Now, I had recently watched The Girl with All the Gifts so I was partly afraid these kids would start to attack and I would die of sepsis again or maybe turn into a zombie. Thankfully, after some strange conversation, let me pass with no issue. Interaction with others doesn’t contribute much in the way of game-play. There’s some brief conversation, but that’s about it.
Sailing down the river on a homemade raft is one of the more challenging aspects of the game. The river is a mix of calm flat water and rushing rapids all interspersed with floating, rusted out cars, small islands that can be looted as you sail on by, and decrepit houses on the brink of collapse. If you happen to crash into anything, it’s nothing that a quick stop at a marina can’t fix as long as you have the supplies. Trying to navigate the river during my second play-through was a lot easier and I was a lot more successful in looting small islands while on the raft. Raft movement can be controlled to a point with the square button in conjunction with the joystick, but it can only be used four times in a row before having to take a brief rest. Sometimes the current can still not be overridden and in the end the current dictates where you end up.
The island appearances can be somewhat repetitive. There is always a dock and a brief path to said dock. Normally, there is at least a small puddle or pond to collect water along with some basic such as dandelions or cattails as well as a few rusted out boxes that can be searched through. There are also tasks that can be found throughout the game and can be found in abandoned post office boxes. Even though tasks are assigned, I didn’t really get the feeling that tasks were a central part of the game and checking them off seemed to be more of an accident of happenstance than something I put effort into completing.
While this can make the game tedious, it also leads to unexpected surprises as you are expecting it to be “just another campsite” or “just another abandoned town”. Nearly back to back I managed to become soaked to the bone, got stung by ants while trying to collect supplies, and broke my leg when I was attacked by a wild boar. Not that it should be a surprise at this point, but I ended up dying shortly after that; however, I think it was probably for the best. There was also one time after I had been playing the game for awhile that I found a medical island. I mistakenly thought this might be my chance to stock up on supplies but exploring the island left me worse off than I started when I got there and ended up dying yet again.
The Flame in the flood is an exciting, yet unforgiving game. It provides a consistent challenge and kept we wanting to keep coming back to play more. While there is a slight repetitiveness it took very little away from the game-play overall. It is something I can see myself coming back to quite often and my family quite enjoyed playing as well.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.