Rogue Type games…What to say about them, I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love them, but I hate the difficulty, but I continue to play them as they do bring hours of entertainment to my portable gaming sessions. Laughing Jackal brings to the PlayStation Vita, a Pryoguelike blend of Twin Stick Shooter and roguelike elements in Flame Over. Flame Over has that quick pick-up-and-play element that is so desired in a portable system. You play as Blaze Carruthers in a fight against the clock to save the humans, cats, complete missions and you only have 5 minutes to do it. Flame Over offers 4 game zones: Office, Executive, Laboratory, and Factory made from over 1300 hand-built rooms, with 16 randomly generated levels per game session, oh, don’t forget – PERMADEATH. If you are able to complete missions for various characters during your session you are rewarded with tokens that you can then use to purchase upgrades between game sessions, these remain persistent just like they are in Rogue Legacy. If you manage to put out all the fires before time runs out you advance to the next level.
Fighting fire may sound like an easy job, but, here, fire will flame at you [see what I did there?] For starters, there isn’t a tutorial section, you watch a quick intro sequence, then are thrown straight into the action, during load screens there are tips that show up giving you ideas as to how to extend your playtime. You do get hints along the way, you will see the R button for using your hose and L button for using the fire extinguisher to put out electrical fires. You start out in the “lobby” area, also located here is where you can fill your fire-hose up if needed. Fire extinguishers are located throughout the floor, so once your extinguisher is empty, picking up a new one will replenish this gauge. As you go through the door to the building, fire is everywhere. As you fight fire in one part of the room and then progress to put out the fire in another section, it IS possible for the fire to spread to where you’ve already doused it out. This can seem frustrating at times, but with skill and using your specials you can overcome the fire in time.
Randomly located throughout the building are Humans and Cats. Walking up to the Humans and/or Cats and pressing the Cross button has them following you around and back to the beginning area. Now this almost sounds counterintuitive as you want to put out the fire in the building, but wait, rescuing Humans adds 1 minute to the timer and rescuing Cats gives you one more heart for a health. Meanwhile, as you are trying to battle fires, there is a damage meter around your character that fills as a damage meter, if this meter fills completely, you lose a heart, lose ALL your hearts and it’s Fl(g)ame Over. Your health does regenerate over time, so if you find yourself in dire straights, leave the room and let yourself heal up, this is usually a good time to take those that are following you back to the starting area. As I stated earlier you can earn upgrade tokens by completing missions, these missions are given to you by Miss Ion [get it? MissIon? Mission? Meh, never mind]. You complete her missions by retaining whatever items/things she requests and you get an upgrade token, spend these to get upgrades before your next “session”. Using the left and right D-Pad buttons you can cycle through your special weapons.
You’ll also come across random supply points; water coolers give you 1 full auto-fill of your hose, whereas resupplying at a water line, you are tasked with holding the Cross Button until it is full and picking up fire extinguishers replenishes your fire extinguisher, naturally. Using the Select Button brings up the map of the floor and here you can locate the power room, shutting off power here kills ALL electrical fires on the floor. My only complaint is the lack of touch screen controls. You control the camera with the right stick when you are shooting water or using the fire extinguisher, but as soon as you let go of the button the camera pans wildly about. This is probably a difficult thing, but personally, as I’m fighting fires, I would like to be able to rotate the camera without having to release a button, so, rear touch pad camera controls would be a nice addition.
This was created using Unity and the graphics on the Vita are outstanding. They have that fresh claymation feel that Vikings Vs. Humans had. Very Campy, Very Colorful and Very Fun. The fire effects look really good on the system and the objects around are highly detailed. You can tell a lot of care was put into everything, including keys on the computer keyboards, even the monitors have images on them, the care and detail that went into this “little” pyrogue game shows. This level of detail does get overlooked on a lot of smaller system games, but not here, here you have bright colors, nice bright and flowing fire effects, and even the soundtrack keeps the groove going, begging you to try just one more time. As you are able to complete the Zones, each new zone contains all the previous dangers plus some added dangers, for example, the Office Zone contains Walls of Fire, Backdrafts, Triple Fireballs, Splash-damage fireballs, but completing this level, the next zone, Executive, features the previous plus carpet fires and hose blocking pillars. So the difficulty ramps up as you progress.
This game is punishingly fun. Replayability is there, just as much as either Rogue legacy or The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. This game has made it into my daily routine of playtime, I MUST PLAY at least once a day, or I do not feel like I’ve tried to accomplish a difficult task. Again, I’m still having difficulty with the game, but it’s not meant to be easy, just as Dark Souls was not meant to be easy either. One of these days I will complete a mission, to be honest though, I’ve spent about 10 hours invested in it and still have a considerable time finishing a floor, there’s so much to look at, keep track of, and watch out for that this is what a roguelike experience should be. This is not your mother’s roguelike game, this is Flame Over – or for me, more like Game Over, continuously, over and over. and over again. I keep coming back though, I learn more from each run, just as I did in Isaac, so it is possible that I may get there. I leave you with this one little tidbit of advice:
Avoid Grim Reaper once time runs out. If he touches you, YOU DIE!!
Developer: Laughing Jackal
Publisher: SCEA and SCEE
Platforms: PlayStation Vita
Price: $9.99 (US) £7.99 / €9.99 (SCEE)
Rating: ESRB – E : PEGI – 7
Release Date: NA – March 10, 2015; EU – March 11, 2015
PS4 and Steam versions to come Q2 2015
*Review copy provided by Laughing Jackal