Game: Blue Fire
Genre: Action, Adventure, 3D Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, PS4 and Xbox)
Developer|Publisher: ROBI Studios | Graffiti Games
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: US $19.99 | UK £17.99 | EU €19,99
Release Date: February 4th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Vim Global PR
Dark but Cute
Blue Fire has you play as a little caped fellow with a cracked mask. You explore the world of Penumbra which feels like a dark ruin of a once prosperous land. That’s not to say you won’t encounter your fair share of baddies and NPCs. It’s a vague plot that feels similar in vain to a certain Souls series. If you pay attention to your surroundings and the characters you encounter you will learn a little about the world. But none of this feels essential to enjoy the gameplay.
The art style is quite striking. Blue Fire has a dark but cartoony feel to it. The style feels quite reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker except the art director favoured the colour black over blue. Characters have a dark appearance but also a sort of innocence with their simple eye expressions and unusual noises they make when talking. Everything feels rather dark and ominous which is created by the game’s good use of sound. I felt like I was exploring the ruins of long-gone civilizations. The environments look lived in with foliage growing over castle walls and the gates and traps having a distinct layer of rust over them. I liked how, when you open a door, a gust of cel-shaded dust bursts out. It’s these small pieces of detail that makes this art style feel distinct.
Explore and Dungeon Dive
The gameplay is a mix of platforming and hack and slash action. Controls are responsive and the game plays well in handheld and TV modes. The whole game feels like a mix of exploration and dungeons similar to a 3D Zelda game. When you find a dungeon you go from room to room solving puzzles, defeating enemies and doing the oddly timed platform section. The latter usually involves you hitting a switch and reaching a locked door before the time runs out. I often found these sections a pain, due to the 3D layout of the levels it’s not always clear how to get to the locked door within the time limit.
Within dungeons is a new item that will grant you a new ability, like wall running, which will help you access new areas. There are also big old boss fights – of course. When exploring the game does advise you on your active quest but the path ahead is not always clear, although initially exploration is quite enjoyable. There are secrets to find and NPCs to meet who will give you small mini quests to complete. But I soon hit a wall and just didn’t quite know where to go next. Backtracking to old areas over and over trying to figure out how to progress soon became a bit of a bore.
3D Platforming Woes
Jumping around in the 3D space feels quite enjoyable initially. You often have to hold the jump button down to get higher and make use of an air dash ability. As you explore the area you’ll regularly encounter statues that offer additional trials. Entering these transports you to a mini platforming challenge where you need to collect several orbs as well as find the exit. These trials felt quite frustrating. Often you have to jump and dash at the edge of platforms at just the right point to succeed. You also have to fight with the camera of the game to get the best angle to see where you will land on a platform. If you fall down into the abyss below you have to restart the challenge from the start. These areas are optional but feel necessary to complete as finishing them will net you an extra heart for your health bar. I often dreaded these trials as they just didn’t entertain me. In contrast to increasing your mana all you have to do is trade dark orbs dropped by enemies.
Your weapon of choice is dual swords. You’ll use these to take down a variety of enemies as well as smash plenty of pots to get to the orbs inside. These orbs can be used to buy upgrades with vendors who are dotted about. Combat feels reminiscent of 3D Zelda games. You can lock onto an enemy target then manoeuvre around the enemy looking for the right moment to strike which works pretty well in open environments. Combat is enjoyable and it’s kinda adorable seeing your little character wave around little swords. Sometimes it becomes an issue when you are trying to attack enemies who take up small platforms. There just doesn’t feel like a lot of space to fight in and it’s easy to fall off the edge. It also doesn’t work well when trying to attack flying enemies in mid air when there is a bottomless pit below. You can lock on and dash to the enemies but once defeated I often just fell down unable to dash to another platform. You can also use magic to hit enemies from a distance but this is limited.
Plenty to See
Blue Fire is a decent sized adventure clocking in at over fifteen hours easily. There’s plenty of secrets to discover and places to explore as long as you don’t mind a bit of backtracking. You can unlock new weapons, dress your caped fella up in new outfits and upgrade your abilities at shrines you find dotted around the game which also acts as checkpoints and a save hub. It’s a game I mostly played for a few hours at a time but walked away from when I hit the inevitable wall. I think a younger and more attractive me, with a lot more time to spare would have loved this title. But with a job and other things to keep busy in life the wall hitting became a bit much. It’s a pain because I really like what this game is trying to achieve. I don’t doubt there is an audience that will love this game.
Light my Fire
Blue Fire was a game I really wanted to like more than I did. I loved the art style and the doom and gloomy feel the game was going for, the main character is also instantly likeable. For the most part, I did enjoy the gameplay but the niggles I had with pathfinding and frustrating platformer sections did damper my experience. Though it didn’t fully light my fire I can see this being something special to other gamers.
If you like your 3D adventures this is a game well worth looking into. Just be cautious if you’re not a platforming fan.
Final Verdict: I like it