Firefighting is a dangerous job. After all, firefighters go up against one of the most destructive forces on the planet and aim to extinguish it, more often than not in the hope of saving lives and buildings. It’s also had prominence in TV and film from the likes of London’s Burning to Rescue Me, but as the sole focus in a videogame, firefighting isn’t well represented. In steps Laughing Jackal with the studio’s first 3D title, Flame Over, an upcoming PS Vita game about Blaze Carruthers and his mission to stop fire spreading in the headquarters of Infernal Industries.
Flame Over is being described as a roguelike title, which means the levels are procedurally generated so that no two playthroughs will be identical. This means that you’ll have to keep your wits about you while fighting the fires, trying to rescue people and even cats. There’s actually lot of nice colours in the environment, though all of that can quickly be wiped away as the yellow and orange flames spread through the stage.
The game actually manages to play differently to how I’d expected and it was explained to me as I played the demo that there are two types of fires to combat, those that need fighting with water and those that need carbon dioxide, predominantly the fires that have electrical sources. To switch between the two types was as simple as pressing either the left or right shoulder buttons, with one allowing the spray of water while the other carbon dioxide.
Flame Over doesn’t just let you put out a fire and move on though, because electrical fires will spark up and return even after being extinguished. When it comes to these kinds of fire, you have to locate the fuse box on that particular floor of the building and turn it off. You can check your minimap for pointers and plot a course to get to it, all the while finding a way to push past the flames, but this is no easy feat, and I actually found Flame Over to be a bit harder than I initially thought it would be while trying to reach the objectives.
You don’t just have to contend with the flames trying to set you alight, but also the danger of overheating as the flames intensify. There was one point where the fire spread faster than I could put it out, eventually leading to Blaze passing out in the room. You’re given an indicator in the form of a circular meter that fills up the hotter it gets, and if you don’t get out of an area before that fills up then you will die, so in some instances the best thing to do may be to tackle just a section of the flames and then retreat.
As I mentioned, there are people and cats trapped in the buildings too, and you have to rescue them. Once you find someone you have to guide them back to the fire exit, while also making sure they don’t succumb to the raging inferno. It adds an extra layer of challenge, especially given how unpredictable the flames can be, putting the whole group in danger. There’s always the ticking clock to contend with and if the level isn’t done within that limit, then I guess bad things happen to Blaze.
There was one major problem that was highlighted during the playthrough and this was in the tutorial level. I, and I was informed many others too, got confused by where I had to go next after completing a section, though Laughing Jackal have confirmed that the tutorial will be reworked as a consequence. Other than that Flame Over feels like the type of game you could pick and play for short bursts of time, or sink hours into in one go depending on your mood. The demo was fun and there’s an upgrade system that hints there will be bigger things to put out as the game progresses.
It can also be confirmed that Flame Over will be heading to PC and PS4, in addition to Vita.