Playing as Blaze Coruthers the game starts with a beautifully rendered animated intro of an emergency call comes in and you jump in your fire engine to extinguish a blazing inferno. The game starts in an office building and you control Blaze with left stick & camera with the right stick allowing the top down view to be rotated. The left shoulder button fires your extinguisher and right shoulder fires your water hose, both are aimed using the right stick thus locking the view, unless you release the buttons. To start off with you discover there’s two types of fire: material and electrical, but later in the game there are chemical fires. This feels really unique as the only enemy in this game is the voratious fire, which has various attacks. Smoking electrical fires can suddenly turn into full on fires, materials can spread. Some fires spit out fireballs igniting other combustibles or hitting Blaze and reducing his health. Whilst we’re talking health, Blaze’s health is effected not only by direct hits from fires but also you have to manage his heat level if it gets to high you’ll lose a life represented by hearts. The aim of Flame Over is to extinguish all the fires in the level by putting them out, rescuing survivors, cats and completing Miss Ion’s objectives before she’ll leave with you.
These objectives (if completed reward you efforts with an upgrade token that can be used to improve Blaze’s ability to along with cash earned during the last game. Sadly once you’ve completed all the missions ans upgraded Blaze to the ultimate Firefighting professional these no point in the Token or the obtrusive screen that pops up every time before a mission, delaying the amount of time it takes to get back into the action.
This is were I found my first problem with Flame Over and that’s the fact there’s a reason firefighters don’t do on the job training. This game would have majorly benefited from a tutorial, teaching you how the weapons work, how they’re best used, the best way to save survivors and the types of fires and hazards such as backdrafts and flash overs. Personally I don’t think the training had to be anything major but would have a gone a long way to making the game easier to get into.
Instead I spent way too much time repeatedly playing the first level over and over, reading all the tips that pop up on loading screens which are helpful but I feel would have been more reinforcing after a tutorial. Levels are timed but extra time can be added to the clock by rescuing survivors, extra lives are given by saving cats, completing Miss Ion’s tasks nets time and an upgrade token. These tokens can be used to open up upgrades at the beginning of your next playthrough by spending cash earned by putting out fires. This is were my second gripe about the game hits, being that once all upgrades are purchased you still have to go to this screen eventhough it no longer serves a purpose other than to inhibit getting back in to the game quickly.
On some levels there are shops that cam be used to purchase extra such as a more powerful hose / extinguisher, waterbombs, maximum health and extra time to name a few.
Flame Over takes a fair bit of time to get used to the randomly generated levels some of which feel damn right unfair as sometimes idiot survivors are stood in the middle of a fire, trying to get to them and press X to get them to follow you to the Emergency Exit regularly results in them getting toasted. The store does occasionally hold a Defibrillator which can be used to revive downed people. The randomness feels like a double edged sword as it’s enjoyable for the fact that each playthrough feels different but developing techniques before getting flambayed. Such as bringing the map in the bottom left corner and planning a route. As well as developing an awareness of locations to refill your hose, fireaxe and extinguisher rather than returning to the levels start. The store is also random and on numerous occasions it’s held the same items I’ve already purchased on a previous level.
The game is tough but kept me going back for more and I’m still trying to gain the Platinum Trophy which is hard as nails as it requires completing all 16 Levels in under an hour. It just feels like certain parts of the game could have been tweaked, not being able to change the view with rear / front touch feels like a real missed opportunity as aiming at fires at the bottom on the screen are usual a bit poor, taking longer than they need to be dampened down.
The game reminds me of The Binding of Isaac Rebirth which I have been obsessed with on PS4 for the last few months, due to it being punishingly hard and a random layout each time. Flame Over looks very nice from the four themed chapters, with their appropriately adorned objects such as office furniture, carpets, watercoolers, sinks, spilt chemical barrels, air vents, fire points, computers etc. Also finding hidden objects such as time and waterbombs encouragee exploration. This is great fit for PSVita but I’ll be happy to replay it on PS4, I just feel it’s so tough at first that it may put many people off.
Review code and Screenshots provided by Developer
Hull based self confessed PlayStation fanboy, never far from his PSvita.
Writer, Developer Liaison and Podcaster for JoypadAndMe.com. Currently trying not to fail his Year Of Shame Challenge.