My Favorite Things of 2016 - Day #7

Today's entry is one of those rare occasions where I like a game in a genre that usually doesn't appeal to me.

The Flame in the Flood is a beautifully crafted rogue-like survival game by Molasses Flood, an indie outfit who describe themselves as 'a company of AAA refugees, with veterans of places like Irrational, Harmonix, and Bungie.'

I have a complicated relationship with rogue-like games. I usually steer clear of them. The constant resetting of progress just doesn't appeal to me. There have been exceptions down the years (FTL for example), and I'm also not a huge fan of the survival genre. This one however managed to be a survival rogue-like that I genuinely loved.

The game finds you taking on the role of a young girl who is fending for herself, alone in some kind of vague post-apocalyptic setting that has a surprising amount of character. It fuses hints of 50s and 60s Americana with a folk inspired soundtrack and some charming visuals. 

The game-play though is what really hooked me. The games hook is that a lot of the action takes place on a river. The girl has a raft that she uses to travel in search of the source of a radio signal downriver. The river introduces a vital element to the design that is often lacking in other survival games. It introduces a pace to game-play often missing from the genre that forces you to make tough choices. The procedurally generated locations all sit along the banks of the river, and you often can't make it to them all, as river currents drive forward motion. 

Each location must be scavenged for parts and supplies, and you salvage and craft your way along the river until you either starve, drown, die, or get eaten. The game manages to infuse even small discoveries with a sense of huge relief. It's amazing when the discovery of something as simple as a jar (to collect water or gas with) suddenly means the difference between life and death! There is a wonderful tension that is derived from the forward momentum the game keeps thrusting upon you. 

A lack of good pacing is something the survival genre has often suffered from for me. This one tackles that head on, and very successfully by using the river to always drive that progress. No sheltering in one spot here, you'll only survive by pushing onward, downstream.

It's a little gem of a game. Definitely recommended.