Flaming onto the big screen
As soon as I was told I would be reviewing Laughing Jackal’s Flame Over on the PS4 I fired up the PS Vita version so I could reacquaint myself with the game and its mechanics whilst waiting for the PS4 version to download.
For those of you that may have missed Flame Over the first time round let me bring you up to speed. You assume the role of Blaze Carruthers, one of the City of London’s finest firefighters in this firefighting action roguelike game, or in the words of Laughing Jackal “Pyroguelike”.
Flame Over is top-down, twin-stick ‘squirt-em-up’ that is made up of sixteen randomly generated levels set across four different zones – Office, Executive, Laboratory and Factory. Each zone increases the temperature by adding new elements such as carpet fires, gas leaks and bouncing fireballs.
When You Play With Fire You Will Get Burnt
Gamers found the PS Vita version difficult as it treated you like a veteran firefighter. Thankfully this time round Flame Over has a tutorial where you can hone your firefighting technique to try and find the correct balance of extinguisher and hose usage. It also allows you to try out some of the gadgets and power-ups that are in the game.
So you’ve conquered the tutorial now onto the main game. You start with five minutes on the clock and have to put out all the fires before the timer reaches zero. Factor into this people to rescue, cats to save and missions to complete and you’ll quickly realise time is of the essence. It’s always a race against the clock. You need to be fast as that five minutes has to last you through all four of the randomly generated levels in the zone. You can acquire more time by rescuing people – an extra minute for each person to be exact. Even so you will probably struggle, as I did, during your first hour of play as you get to grips with the gameplay. Then it clicked. I stopped dashing into rooms blind, I started examining doors for signs of fire and began soaking the floors to prevent fires from spreading. I used the map to locate the fuse box which cuts the power and prevents electrical fires from reigniting and I started completing Miss Ion’s missions. It became a more compelling game as I’d started to unlock continuous upgrades. These upgrades never dampen the difficult totally but allow you to make it further and further into the game. There’s a great sense of achievement when you make it to the next new zone. Then you encounter new elements and the difficulty hits you in the face like a backdraft once again. Make no mistake though, Flame Over is addictive. You will fail more times than you will complete the game but you won’t mind. You’ll want to play it again and again, each time trying to get to the next zone, even if that means starting from the beginning in order to earn enough coins to increase your upgrades to get a little further into your next run.
As with any twin stick shooter you use the dual sticks to control movement and the camera. The trigger buttons are for the fire extinguisher and hose. R1 throws a water bomb if you have any at your disposal and the map is displayed by pressing L1. If I’m been honest I did find myself bringing up the map a few times when I was meaning to use the fire extinguisher. There are onscreen prompts for the other buttons.
What you will notice straightaway if you’ve played the PS Vita version is the improved graphics this time around – they are amazing! Sometimes when you play a PS4/Vita game on PS4 is doesn’t look quite as polished as the Vita version, but Laughing Jackal have made sure that Flame Over really excels on the big screen. Everything has been reworked for the PS4. The game runs at 1080p 60fps and you can see the difference. It is also worth noting that the loading times have gone.
The trophy list is identical to the PS Vita list with trophies for completing certain missions, rescuing people and cats, There are a few hard trophies in the list to make you work for your platinum such as Fast Worker (completing the game in under an hour) and Fireproof (complete the game, saving all people without any of them being downed by fire).
Punk reviewed the PS Vita version and said in his conclusion that Flame Over “is a tough but hugely rewarding experience that amounts to one of the best Vita releases around.” and guess what? By ramping up the visuals and extinguishing the loading times, Laughing Jackal have only gone and done it again – Flame Over is a tough but hugely rewarding experience that amounts to one of the best PS4 releases around.
NelMaNo Rating – 9/10