Published on November 6th, 2017 | by Chris Ramirez, Editor
The Flame in the Flood Nintendo Switch Review
Editor’s note: A code was provided for the purpose of this review
Nintendo Switch has recently been the new console of choice to play indies. I number of indie developers have already publicly stated that there game’s sales on the Nintendo Switch have surpassed all of the sales of the other consoles combined.
The Flame in the Flood was initially released back in early 2016 and has become a critical darling. The critical praise during the initial release put the game on my radar, but I never had the chance to go back to play the game. Recently The Flame in the Flood has released on the Nintendo Switch to try to reach a larger audience the game deserves.
The Flame in the Flood is a whimsical and brutal survival simulation. As I stated before, The Flame in the Flood was on my radar but I knew very little about the game other than critics love it. I was surprised when starting the game that you are simply “dropped” in the woods. You need to figure out what you need to collect, craft, and maintain in order to survive. You are partnered with a dog who is there to help you identify some helpful items you may need. There are a couple of readable signs that will help you to try to figure things out. For example, early in the game you will be introduced to campfires in which a brief explanation I given that campfires are can be used to sleep or cook. The more you die in the Flame of the Flood, the more you learn for you next run.
Deaths can come from anywhere. You have essential health information on your HUD. Sleeping, having a shelter, finding food and clean water, and maintaining your health play a critical room in surviving. The effects of one bad decision can dramatically change the course of your health. During one of my playthroughs, to avoid dehydration I drank some unfiltered pond water. As a result, I got ill in which slowed my progress to run away from an attacking boar. I eventually died due to the combination of my injuries and illness.
The Flame in the Flood has two modes; Campaign and Endless modes. Both modes follow a simple narrative of Scott and her dog journeying through a post flood disaster America trying to find the source of a mysterious radio signal. Campaign mode enables check points and offers better resources. On the other hand, Endless mode disables checkpoints and limits the amount of valuable resources making the game even more challenging. No matter what mode you decide to play, The Flame in the Flood is difficult.
The difficulty of gameplay and art style are perfect compliments to the narrative. The game masterfully conveys the tone of loneliness, despair, and intensity similar found in movies such as Gravity or The Road. Each death is a learning opportunity. A huge mechanic that is essential for survival is maintaining inventory and understanding crafting. When you first start, you literally have nothing. You find a jar for water relatively quick and a bunch of crafting material. In one run through I found a filter for the water I collect, but died due to injuries. Other runs I would have med kits available but did not get the water filter and eventually died due to dehydration and or sickness from drinking dirty water. There are realistic consequences to the decisions that you make.
The presentation of the game is a wonderful work of art on its own. The art of the game is somber and bleak. The art style reminds me Jeff Granito’s or Shag’s art work where they use harsh lines, defined shapes, and play with color to highlight the subject. With the earth tone color palate, The Flame in the Flood is a moving painting. Coupled with the great American Folk music and the journey focused narrative, The Flame in the Flood reminds me of a classic American story.
I am not an avid player of survival simulation games and have no comparison. Despite its difficulty, I am fully engaged with The Flame in the Flood. I love the idea of Endless mode of going as far as I can before I die. Each playthrough, I tend to learn something new to help me survive a bit longer. The Endless mode brings an added “realistic” element, for the lack of terms, to the game that better engulfed me into the game. I spent a number of hours in the Endless mode over the Campaign.
The Flame in the Flood on the Nintendo Switch would be the preferred platform to play on. The game is an amazing experience in both long stretches of time and in short burst. I often used the little free time I have a work to quickly explore a new environment, craft needed supplies or food, or get some sleep. Once you get a handle on the mechanics and inventory system, you can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.
There is a small learning curve on navigating through the inventory system. The inventory system is a bit clunky. I would suggest to take the time to go through the inventory menu system yourself to get more familiar with it. This includes getting used to the quick menu system. You start with twelve workable slots, six back up slots on your dog companion, and twelve additional slots on the raft. If you are not careful, you can fill up your inventory very fast. I found myself in the inventory menu a lot juggling items in between the different storages based on my location. Going through the inventory system brought a nostalgic feeling of going through the Resident Evil and Resident Evil 5 inventory system. I cannot pin point why however.
The Final Truth:
The Flame in the Flood found a nice home on the Nintendo Switch. Having the ability to play on the television or take on the go is perfect. The Flame in the Flood’s art style, soundtrack, and journey remind me of a great American folk tale. I preferred to play the Endless mode over the Campaign because the lack of checkpoints allows me to take my time on how I need to utilize resources, where and when to sleep, and being careful about the decisions I would make. Endless mode adds to the narrative and I enjoy seeing the results of my journey when I died. In release window where nothing but bigger AAA are being released, you should not sleep on The Flame in the Flood.