The sun is just about to go down, but I’ve not yet finished scouting the area. There could be valuable supplies around, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to leave without them. Uh-oh, now it’s raining, and darkness is starting to set in. I consider hightailing it before the wolves come out, but too late, they find me, and as luck would have it, I’m fresh out of arrows. Not that it matters really. It’s not like I’d have the time to sit and aim at each of the three beasts as they circle around me in the first place.
I make a quick decision, and scramble toward the pier. I wave my staff at the trio as I go. That’ll only provide a brief respite, but it’ll give me exactly what I need right now – a small opening to slip through. I see it appear, and I run like I’ve never run before. My energy is low, yet there, just ahead of me sits my escape. As I’m about to get to it, a wolf leaps and finds its mark. I grit my teeth through the pain of the slash, drag my legs the last few metres, hop onto my raft, and push off in an instant.
I’m safe, for now at least. I may have survived being dinner, but now I have this wound to deal with. If I don’t sort it out, it’ll fester, and I’ll probably die. Problem is, I don’t have a sewing kit, or bandages for that matter. Those very supplies that I need to sort out this problem could be exactly what I left in that area behind in my hasty escape.
This in a nutshell, is how The Flame in the Flood plays out. It’s a tough, roguelike survival title, where exploring for supplies is necessary, but where the slightest misstep or miscalculation can result in death.
You play as a girl called Scout, who at the start of the game, is found sitting next to a roaring fire. She looks haggard and beaten, like she’s been to hell and back. She’s still alive though, and it’s your job to lead her to safety – if such a thing even exists in this wild, abandoned world.
You’re not alone thankfully. Help comes in the form of companion called Aesop. He finds Scout one day, and gives her a red backpack to store all her stuff in. He barks joyfully, and his wagging tail promises some sort of hope. The pair team up, and set off on the adventure of a lifetime.
Adventure is certainly what the duo find. Don’t be fooled by the crisp, beautiful visuals and fitting folk soundtrack of The Flame in the Flood though. It looks and sounds pretty, yes, but I assure you, that all exists just to mislead you. It’s one bastard of a game in the difficulty department, and it’ll chew you up and spit you right out, over and over again as you try to carefully manage Scout’s hunter, thirst, temperature, and fatigue levels. Oh, that and all the other natural dangers out there…
Starting out is a bit daunting. Scout has nothing more than the most basic of supplies; a few saplings, some cattail, a jar, a water filter, and some flint. These will get her by for a short time, but she definitely needs to find other resources if she’s to craft better gear to survive.
In order to find these extra supplies, Scout has to board a raft, navigate down a treacherous river, and stop along the way to scavenge whatever she can. This is what makes The Flame in the Flood a roguelike game. The river is randomly generated, as are the various docks along the way. Deciding where exactly to stop can be the difference between life and death.
And believe me, you’ll have to make many difficult decisions along the way. You’ll often need to choose between one dock or another. That, or you’ll get caught in the pull of a particularly strong downstream, and miss docking anywhere at all.
You may find yourself having to choose between a dock that leads to a drug store, or one that leads to a hardware store. One could contain valuable supplies such as penicillin or bandages to ensure medical injuries stay at bay. The other could have a workbench for making better gear, along with other bits and bobs, such as wood or nuts & bolts – both of which are needed to upgrade the raft and make other important items.
Sometimes, regardless of where you dock, you may not find what you’re looking for at all, and not see it for a very long time. On one run for example, I had a pretty great all round inventory, but I just couldn’t find any saplings and cattail. These two are the most basic of supplies, and are used to build some of the most important starting gear. That run ended rather miserably, because I just couldn’t build the simple stuff.
It all seemed a bit unfair, but as Scout grew on her journey, so did I. Each time I stepped into the game, I figured out new tricks, new ways to deal with danger, and new ways to make do with and without certain supplies. The are limitations for sure, but it I did find it fascinating how there are multiple ways to deal with different situations.
Remember my wolf scenario above? That happened on one of my earlier runs, and looking back now, there were a variety of ways I could’ve dealt with that situation. Now knowing that night time almost guarantees a presence of wolves, I could’ve set up some spike traps in advance to deal with the furry buggers. I could’ve also built a fire to keep them at bay while I shot off some arrows.
Or, I could’ve crafted a torch, which would’ve allowed me to run and check those last few potential supply spots without fear of getting mauled to death. Hell, I could’ve caught a rabbit alive and let it loose at that time too. That would keep the wolves’ attention off me, at least long enough to escape to my raft.
As challenging as it is, there does come a point toward the end of The Flame in the Flood when the difficulty tapers off somewhat. Don’t get me wrong, a misstep could still result in an unhealthy death, but it seemed very unlikely once I had a bag full of most of the necessary supplies.
Near the conclusion, I became inundated with resources. Instead of docking at each port, hoping for some valuable item, I only climbed off to explore just for the sake of doing it. Did I really need more penicillin? More hide? More water jars? Not really.
Areas soon start to all look the same too. Building locations and such are random, but the tile set and the like all start to look just a little too familiar, which unfortunately, waters down the overall experience after a few hours.
That being said, there is undoubtedly a lot of joy to be found in The Flame in the Flood, particularly by those who enjoy a good survival game. The main campaign took me around 4 to 5 hours to finish (around 36 days in-game time). After that I dived into the endless mode – where the river literally never stops.
Despite having done and seen lots in the main campaign, I’m sure there is still lots to be found in this mode. I don’t think I’ve met every character, and I’ve yet to kill that one mysterious wolf that kept stalking me across several areas…
Last Updated: February 24, 2016