I was able to try out a new game today called Blue Flame, and before I get into the review, I just want to say that this game is in beta and was created by a solo developer, so I am really not trying to rip into it too hard. Blue Flame is a top-down Souls-like game, so it is intended to be difficult, and in a certain fashion it was. I will tackle the different elements of this game, and I will allow you all to make your own judgments of the game.
First of all, the graphics/art-style are lower resolution, but that is not inherently a bad thing. The characters and enemies are mostly polygons, which can add an element of nostalgia, as it is reminiscent of early Playstation style graphics. I do not have much to add in terms of the music when it comes to ambience, because other than in certain boss fights, there really was not music playing most of the time, which honestly added a level of monotony to the humdrum of the game’s progression.
The mechanics were very straightforward, which in a game like this is a blessing for sure. WASD is your typical cardinal movements, and you can use spacebar for the dash mechanic, which is always how top-down games like this should operate in my opinion. Q and E switch between your two spells, and you aim with your mouse, while using left and right click to control your attack and magic shield, respectively.
One of the issues I had with the game is the lack of a map. I have been told that Souls-like games are not meant to have maps, but when the layout is top-down and not entirely unique, it is really hard to tell where you are at most times.
When looking at the combat mechanics, they are not bad, as you have a regular spell attack, as well as a shield that last for about 10 seconds and can block one incoming attack. However, it quickly devolved into consistently rolling backwards to avoid an attack and firing off a series of magic attacks. It is pretty straightforward, but there were a few enemies that proved to be annoying to fight against, namely hounds and archers. The hounds moved much faster than the player character, so it seemed the best maneuver was to roll directly through them before attacking, and the struggle with the archers was that the character cannot move and attack at the same time, so you either have to put up the shield consistently, or tank some free hits, which I do not like.
The boss fights did not seem like they would have been really hard, but the true challenge came from the fact that whenever you would use a bonfire to heal and save, you lost a chunk of your maximum mana. This was not a very forgiving mechanic, as attacking and defending both required mana, and there is no way to do anything without it. Reducing maximum mana in a game where mana is the source of all mechanics is a bit harsh.
I would say that the biggest issue I ran into when it came to Blue Flame was the lack of progression. Through two levels of bosses, I never ran into new armors, new spells, experience points or currency. The only thing that monsters can drop are health potions, which while nice, is not quite incentive enough to fight through the droves of enemies that are constantly attacking. Even the boss did not drop a single thing, and as someone who loves progression in a game, I was disappointed.
I know it seems like I am ripping into this game quite a bit, but at this point, the game is just not at all ready to be sold. Without music, a progression system, unique mechanics, or the ability to gain new spells, I am just not sure what the game has to offer in terms of a worthwhile experience. As I stated above, the game is in beta, so it has a lot of room to grow, and I am excited to see what could potentially be in store, but at this point, I cannot honestly recommend it to anyone until it is further developed. Feel free to try the game out for yourself and let me know where you agree or disagree with my opinions!