Originally released in 2016 on Steam, but also Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the title is getting a new lease of life by landing this month on Nintendo Switch. And according to a confidence released on Twitter by Simon Byron, the director of publication at Curve Digital, sales are good! Here is a video which, although in English, will give you a good idea of what to expect.
There are two possible game modes at launch: campaign and endless. The difference is not really obvious, except that the first offers missions in caches, while the second catapults faster in the imperative of survival.
The campaign presents itself in two difficulties: survivalist and traveler.
Given the complexity of the title, I strongly advise you to start with a traveler, even if you are used to survival games. You will be able to better understand the mechanisms and have a chance to see beyond the first zone.
In post-apocalyptic America, I play a little character lost in the middle of nowhere without too much other information. And, to be honest, even after playing a bunch of hours, I still don't have a clear idea of who she is and what happened to the country. Accompanied only by my dog Aesop and a DIY raft, I must survive as long as possible in a dangerous environment.
A tutorial needle me at the start and shows me the important things to know and master. It all starts with the harvest. Do you see that beautiful ear of corn on the left? I hold A and it arrives in my inventory. While collecting everything is important, it's not always possible due to the limited space of my inventory separated into three: staff, dog's backpack, and raft reserve (only usable when I'm at the dock). Note that only the inventory of the dog remains after a death, it is therefore preferable to entrust him with useful and rare objects.
So, what to do with this corn? Nibble it raw? This is indeed a possibility, it will bring me as seen above a nutrition of +2, which is really not much, given that I have 100 nutrition points to fill and that I have some. already lost 10 just by exploring the tiny starting area. And why not turn it into a corn cake which will allow, in addition to benefiting from a better nutritional intake, to have a more sustainable food? The recipes are accessible from the same menu as the inventory, organized by type (food, medicine, clothes, tools, miscellaneous) and are often based on a prerequisite such as fire or a tool (the stone knife being the first).
The game then draws my attention to the importance of quenching my thirst when my character is starting to feel thirsty. This requires collecting water in a jar, which will make it a jar of polluted water, then filtering the water with a filter to make a jar of drinking water. Here and there there are also pumps that directly draw clean water, but these are rare. Drinking polluted water is possible in an emergency, but you need to have medicine on hand to treat yourself.
After looting everything you can in the small starting area, it's time to go on a raft adventure.
Created using debris hanging from a car wreck, this raft is the only way to move from one area to another, a multitude of small islets more or less rich in resources. And it is not at all manageable in the rushing waves of the river!
And that quickly becomes a concern because there are currents, things that float, rocks, just as many things likely to inflict damage on my fragile boat.
In addition to the islands that can be visited, some are just lootable, offering additional and often rare resources. They are identified by a blue halo, requiring you to get close enough to trigger the action, while of course avoiding running aground.
To avoid drowning from a shattered raft, find a marina where machinery is available to repair and improve the boat. It does require a large amount of hard-to-find materials, such as nuts, bolts or beams. Repairing the raft is therefore not an option to rely on, as there is very little chance of finding the right materials in sufficient quantity.
Country music is particularly catchy on this part, very much like the great American rivers!
Survival ... and deaths!
There are very many environments providing randomly generated resources. Each part will be different even if the islands appear to be in fixed locations. An icon identifies the style of the island and a sign gives leads on potential resources once on the dock. On the other hand, it is never possible to know exactly in advance what will be on the ground ... nor the potential threats.
In addition to hunger and thirst, care must be taken that the character's temperature does not drop too much and that he is rested. There are shelters or campfires for that. Of course, sleeping affects thirst and hunger, the linked gauge must be sufficiently filled before sleep. For the cold, the showers are dangerous, we must quickly find shelter to avoid hypothermia ...
Resources are scarce and threats multiple. There are wolves and wild boars who just wait inattention to bite or skewer. Diseases are caught at the slightest misstep, like ants that sting if you step on them, which can end in sepsis. Not to mention the raft which at one point, for lack of repair materials, inexorably ends up in spare parts and splash! To simplify the whole thing, the screen is impacted when the character is sick, it would be too simple otherwise ...
Suddenly, I died, over and over again ... in so many ways!
And the exploration continues
If you are playing in traveler mode, you will have the opportunity to start over at the last checkpoint, which is when you loaded a new zone.
In this case, we must hope that the character is in good health or the save becomes unusable, then forcing to start again from the beginning. In this case, the game starts again from zero, only Aesop's inventory (the dog) is kept. You have to re-explore everything, rediscover all the recipes and hope to have more luck in drawing resources.
The Flame In The Flood is a survival / exploration game with a strong rogue-lite component. You have to love the challenge to enjoy it, expect to try again, again and again, and to die in various and above all violent ways. There is no story and the exploration / craft side is suddenly completely hidden, dedicated to increasing survival a little bit.
But there is also an undeniable addictive side, making you want to try again, just to see if it would be possible to have better items or to try another area by taking another arm of the river. All to lively music and cute graphics adding to the North American vibe.
It's up to you to see if you have the patience and the desire to rub shoulders with this ruthless and colorful world! If the answer is yes to both, you will discover a title that will occupy you many hours to survive! The game is available on Nintendo Switch (€ 14,99) but also PC (Steam at € 14,99), PlayStation 4 (14,99 €) and Xbox One (19,99 €).