By Richard Jewell
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released February 24th, 2016 on Xbox One and Steam
Developer: The Molasses Flood Publisher: The Molasses Flood
The player takes on the role of a young girl named Scout, who with her only companion, a dog named Aesop, braves a dangerous journey down a procedurally generated river with one simple goal of survival. However, survival does not come easy. When journeying downriver, players take control of Scout’s makeshift raft and must navigate it through dangerous waters. There are plenty of obstacles to deal with, such as rocks, submerged houses, and other floating debris. The raft has an HP bar, and once it reaches zero, kersplash! Game over. Luckily you can find materials to make repairs and upgrades, but you need to be docked at a marina to do so. Some of the handier upgrades include a rudder so your raft can make much faster turns, a water purifier so you always have the option to make safe drinkable water without needing any special items, and even a gas-powered motor! Scout does not have enough supplies to make it all the way downriver, though. Eventually, you will have to make landfall and start scavenging.
But don’t count on Scout going down too easily because she’s got a few tricks up her sleeve. She’s very crafty (I know, bad pun). Scout has access to over 50 different recipes that can help her stay alive. You can create yourself some traps to hunt wildlife for meat and animal hides used in creating warmer clothing. You can make a bow and some arrows to help defend yourself from hungry predators or you can forage around for plants needed to make useful healing teas, which are good for curing certain illnesses. It’s up to you to make smart use of your limited resources. Scout’s little doggy companion Aesop comes in handy when hunting for supplies. He alerts you to collectible items by barking at them, and he has a backpack in which you can store extra items.
The Flame in the Flood offers two different game modes. The first is Campaign Mode. Campaign mode offers players a finite, story driven experience. It also comes with a choice of difficulties. Traveler is the setting recommended for new players. There are checkpoints and a normal amount of supplies to be scavenged from the world. Survivalist is the setting for people who want a real challenge. It features permadeath (no retries!), fewer supplies, and Scout’s stats diminish at an increased rate. The second game mode is the aptly titled Endless Mode. As the name implies, you embark on an endless journey down the river to see how long you can survive before succumbing to Mother Nature.
I’d be quite remiss if I did not mention the fantastic music that can be heard in this game. The soundtrack was composed by American singer and songwriter Chuck Ragan. Made up of a mix of vocal and instrumental tracks, it’s a perfect example of how a great soundtrack can really improve the entire experience. I doubt I’ll ever forget the first time I jumped onto Scout’s makeshift raft. As I cast off from the safety of the shore, unsure about what to expect as I started the long journey downriver, the game’s titular theme began to play. First, an acoustic guitar strums to life. A couple of notes later, Chuck’s voice kicks in and he croons, “In the backwaters beyond fables and years, is freedom in moving on”. All I could say was man, what an appropriate song! The music helps to give this game much more of an adventure feeling.
So to sum it all up, The Flame in the Flood is definitely worth a look, especially if you are a fan of the survival genre. The beautiful art direction and music really help elevate this game above the competition. I had a pretty good experience with it that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Final Score: 8/10
+Amazing soundtrack +Great value for the price
+Endless Mode offers great replay value
-Some minor glitches
-Campaign mode doesn’t offer much narrative
See y’all online.