Title: The Flame in the Flood
Platform: Steam, Windows, OS X, Xbox One
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Roguelite, Survival
Players: Single player
Written by Dragoon 12th March 2016
The Flame in the Flood by The Molasses Flood is a roguelite survival game that has you playing as a young woman known only as Scout. Along with your loyal hound Aesop you brave the meandering river after a catastrophic flood in search of safety and protection. With nothing but a rickety old raft to carry you along you must gather supplies and equipment to help you survive the harsh and dangerous environment. Does The Flame in the Flood do enough to set it apart from the literal flood of games like it or does it just end up being washed away?
The first thing that hits you when you start up The Flame in the Flood is its atmosphere, everything from the interesting art style to the twangy folk music soundtrack helps to whisk you away to this beautiful but dangerous world. The river itself is the real soul of the game, it feels like it’s alive and the feeling of powerlessness you get while being thrown around by its forceful currents and wild bends really helps to amplify this feeling. As you go down the river you have the opportunity to dock onto various little islands and bits of wilderness to forage for supplies and repair your craft. You have to make a split second decision on where to go as there’s no way of knowing if your stop will be fruitful due to the procedurally generated areas and you have a limited amount of stamina to influence the direction the river will carry you in.
The Flame in the Flood offers two game modes, the first is a story mode. In this mode the layout of the game is preset and there are various checkpoints that let you keep your progress if you die. The story is interesting but a little generic and it’s a little easier than the other mode on offer. This mode is the survival mode and the one most players will want to come back to. This mode is the true rogue-
This procedural generation is also the game's biggest weakness because your run can be over before it’s even started. A survival game where your success is based purely on random chance just seems unfair and can lead to an early death by no fault of your own, some will relish in this but I mostly found it annoying. You need to manage your four status meters which represent your temperature, hunger, thirst and fatigue. Letting any of these meters drop can lead to your untimely death and each can be topped up by doing certain actions or using various items you can scavenge and craft throughout your journey. I found crafting to be a little unintuitive due to the poor interface and this also affects how you use your items, going into your inventory does not pause game which means if you need to quickly use something you’ll be in trouble since you have to wrestle with the menus to get what you need. While there is a quick use menu it’s clunky and makes it hard to access what you need quickly which is an issue when you are killed more by the interface than anything else.
Your backpack only has a limited amount of space but items can be stored on your raft or with your dog Aesop. Items that are with Aesop are carried over between playthroughs which means your next run will usually start off better than your previous one. A big issue with the inventory is that it’s too small for the amount of items you’ll need to pick up and there is no way of telling what you will need in the future. While it’s nice to have variety it’s very hard to plan ahead with the amount of items available so it becomes difficult to prioritise what should be kept with you and what should be left on the raft.
The art style as mentioned earlier is fairly unique, it has a strange cel-
Altogether The Flame in the Flood is a fantastic looking game with a great atmosphere that’s let down by a poor interface and clunky controls. The artists did a great job of making the river the star of show with some great animations and general feel. The environments are a good mix of beauty and danger and this also applies to the enemies. Unfortunately when it comes to the gameplay it often feels like you’re fighting against the poorly designed menus more than the enemies and it’s too easy to be beat by the random generation. It’s a game that’s definitely worth a look for survival fans but don’t go in thinking it’ll be smooth sailing, sometimes it’s like paddling upstream without the paddle.
Fantastic visuals and animations,
Clunky controls and interface,
Poor random elements.
It may not be perfect but The Flame in the Flood sails its way to a 7/10