Flame Over
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Running around as a firefighter extinguishing flames and rescuing civilians is a lot more fun than it sounds and Flame Over packs quite a challenge to boot. It is definitely a little frustrating at times, but the randomized levels and addictive gameplay will keep you coming back for more after every rage quit. The game made the transition from PS Vita to PC very well and comes highly recommended.

Gameplay: Fun, sometimes frustrating, very challenging and definitely addictive.

Graphics: Four different environments and some very nice fire effects.

Sound: Very catchy and fits the theme of the game perfectly

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Flame Over

Developer: Laughing Jackal LTD | Publisher: Ghostlight LTD | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Indie / Action | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

Continuing to play a game long after reviewing it is usually a sign that it is very good. However, with Flame Over I struggled to stop playing the game long enough simply to write the review! I can’t think of any better indication of how downright addictive this title from Laughing Jackal is. The setup is very simple, you are a firefighter and it is your job to extinguish fires that are rapidly spreading through four different environments. However, time is of the essence and in addition to dousing the flames your firefighter must also rescue whatever hapless citizens he can find trapped in the blaze.

Flame Over was originally a PS Vita title, but thankfully made the leap over to PC. As Blaze Carruthers, a brave firefighter with a big yellow helmet and even bigger mustache, you must tackle the inferno awaiting you. Only sixteen floors stand between you and victory, but as each one is randomized every time you play, you have your work cut out for you.

Blaze might be a fireman, but that doesn’t make him fireproof, so you have to keep your distance from the flames while dousing them. This is easier said than done though, as you have to contend with fireballs that can shoot out at any time and ignite everything around you. Normal fires can be taken care of using a water hose, but electrical fires remain shouldering, and unless you use an extinguisher will continually reignite making your life miserable. The trick is to quickly find the switch on each level that turns off the electricity, after which you can take care of all the flames using your hose. It’s still not an easy task though as your time limit is very strict and the only way to extend it is by rescuing the civilians who are trapped inside the rooms.

Once you locate a civilian you can order them to follow you and must then escort them to the exit before they succumb to the flames. Civilians can also be ordered to wait for you, which is vital if you have to clear out any fires standing between you and the exit. I lost count of how many times a fireball hit a trio of civilians in the back just as I was about to leave with them. Even when I tried to stash civilians out of harm’s way, I still lost a few thanks to fireballs flying out of the room and setting everything ablaze in the next one. While you can still complete a level without rescuing any civilians, you miss out on the one minute time bonus that each one bestows, which makes subsequent levels so much harder to complete.

One each floor you’ll also find a hapless cat and escorting it to the exit will grant you an extra life. A handy meter is shown onscreen quickly filling up when you are too close to a fire and if you don’t get out of harm’s way in time Blaze loses a life. Forgetting to keep track of this meter is all too easy when you are focused on rushing into burning rooms and rescuing trapped civilians, but monitoring it is essential to survival. Should the timer that is constantly ticking down ever reach zero the grim reaper will make an appearance and relentlessly chase you down until you are caught, complete the level, or manage to rescue a civilian and extend the time again. Getting caught results in an instant game over, no matter how many lives you have left, and to add insult to injury all your cash is taken as well. If you want your money back, earned from dousing flames or searching hidden spots, you’ll have to replay the game and find your ghost again.

Flame Over is set in four zones; office, executive, labs and factory, each with four randomized floors. Initially only the office zone is available, but completing the fourth floor of each zone unlocks the next. In subsequent games you can start playing from whichever zone you have already unlocked, but items bought from the shopkeepers don’t carry over. Some of them are very handy, such as defibrillators for resuscitating downed civilians, better hoses to improve your firefighting abilities and faster boos for getting around much quicker, so losing these sucks. A special NPC you encounter during levels, Miss Ion, provides you with simple missions, such as finding her bag, retrieving valuables from a safe or even disposing of alien bodies! In return you are rewarded with tokens with which to unlock persistent upgrades, such as enhanced fire protection or cheaper shop prices. While not as powerful as the items sold in the shops, the upgrades still come in useful.

Visually, the game is bright, cartoonish and surprisingly detailed considering its PS Vita roots. The jump to a bigger screen definitely didn’t diminish its charm and the flames still look pretty impressive. The way that the fire spreads is also very realistic, but don’t expect to see any type of damage or destruction to the environment. Dousing the flames simply reveals the pristine scenery underneath again. The camera can be rotated freely, but walls do not become transparent when you are behind them, which makes things a bit more challenging. Since most games in this genre features either fantasy or futuristic environments, it is refreshing to see a more contemporary setting for a change.

The different types of environments come with different challenges, so while initially you only have to deal with flames later levels involve chemical spills, bombs and gas leaks that have to be overcome as well. As you run around you can check your mini-map to find your way and a handy green glow on the edge of the screen is very useful for making your way back to exit. It is a trip that you’ll have to make a lot, not only to deliver your rescued civilians for the time bonusses, but also to refill your water and foam tanks. Thankfully, there are also other spots, such as taps or water coolers from which you can replenish your water in a pinch. A handy gauge also indicates how close you are getting to the nearest fire, which is useful for locating rooms you might have overlooked in your rush.

I initially played Flame Over using the traditional mouse and keyboard setup, but soon switched over to a controller. The game plays just like a twin stick shooter and using a controller is a lot more comfortable, especially when it comes to rotating the view while moving. While spraying water or foam your character strafes, which makes it easy to direct the stream and continue moving. Civilians (and cats) can be ordered to follow you with the tap of a button, while holding down the same button will order them to wait. Flame Over also fares well in the audio department, with a very catchy soundtrack that will stick with you. The music speeds up as your timer runs out giving the game an even more frantic feel.

Sixteen levels might not sound like much, but it will take many, many attempts in order to beat this game. Even if you do manage to conquer it, the randomized levels provide enough reason to go back for more. Overall, I had an absolute blast playing Flame Over and despite the challenge never got tired of retrying. The game will definitely test your patience at times, like most roguelikes do, but stick with it and you will have a lot of fun.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: 2 GHZ Dual Core
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1GB 3D graphics card
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 1200 MB available space
  • Sound Card: On board
  • OS: Windows XP
  • Processor: 2 GHZ Dual Core
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1GB 3D graphics card
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 1200 MB available space
  • Sound Card: On board

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