No we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it.
Yeah! A Billy Joel reference right off the bat, which now means that song is stuck in my head and is also likely stuck in your head too. Sorry about that!
When I first heard of Flameover my thoughts were immediately turned to a game I remember enjoying plenty on the Playstation… Rosco McQueen. It was a flawed game, but the idea of fighting fires in a videogame is one I’d like to see explored further, because as yet I can’t think of many games that have handled it well.
Flameover has been cleverly described as a Pyroguelike which is frankly brilliant. This is a Roguelike in every sense of the word, but one that tries to fool you with the intro and all the marketing beforehand.
It has cutesy graphics for a start, which wouldn’t look out of place as a casual game on a mobile device, so that adds a sense of believing this to be casual. It is a twin-stick shooter too, which whilst not all being easy, are very simple to understand and play and the first few moments are tame, slow and relatively easy.
Then you enter a door into a new area and all hell breaks loose, you are running out of water, fires you have put out are reigniting, there are people and cats to save, they are now dead, you are being burned alive yourself and you are now dead! DEAD!
What in the blue hell just happened there? Was that a tutorial? What was I meant to do? Was I meant to be that bad? That’s not cute, I just watched a cat and a person die in a terrible inferno…that’s…that’s not right.
On the surface Flameover is a simple game with a nice casual feel, but boy is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing, because it reveals itself to be one of the most brutal roguelikes I have ever played. It is right up there with the liked of Binding of Isaac, Spelunky and Rogue Legacy.
But at the same time it is different, in those games you go into the randomly generated levels without knowing what you will face, here the enemy is clear, fire and time.
You have to not only put out all the fires in each level you play, but you need to rescue people and animals, manage your water levels and keep an eye on the clock as it ticks down. You also lack some freedom, as you can’t just burst into a room and spray, because the heat will kill you, meaning you need to consider your approach to each new area. The problem is, the time keeps ticking down.
If the timer reaches zero, it isn’t game over as such, but you will be haunted by Death and if he catches up and touches you…well then you have failed and you’ll need to restart.
What Flameover has though is a permanent upgrade mechanic, which means you earn money as you fight fires, which you can then use to upgrade various elements and make the next run easier. You must though spend the money you earned in a previous run, as that will not carry over. Similar to how it works in Rogue Legacy.
So here is the thing with Flameover. It doesn’t do too much to set itself apart from the crowd, apart from trying to deceive you before you get into it. But then it doesn’t need to, it plays to its strengths and plays to them well. It has easily become a game that goes on my regular rotation on the Vita, one I will try to spend a small amount of time with each day, or at least every couple of days. It can sit proudly with some of the best Roguelike games on the Vita.