It seems that this generation saw the rising popularity of difficult, procedurally generated survival action games, but it makes sense when you think about it. There's something immensely satisfying about overcoming impossible odds by the skin of your teeth, and the procedural generation allows for nearly limitless replayability as each attempt at survival will be just as difficult as the last. These games don't require mastery of individual levels or obstacles, so much as they do mastery of concepts and mechanics. The Flame in the Flood is yet another entry in this crowded genre, so the question is: how does it stack up? Based on our experiences, it does accurately manage to capture the essence of man vs. nature, and we can't wait to see its full release later this year.
The premise is simple: guide Scout and her dog Aesop as far as you can down a long and winding river, making stops as needed to gather supplies, make shelter, hunt, etc. Scout's hunger, sleep, thirst, and temperature must all be managed in real time, and in typical survival fashion, it never feels like you have enough. Moreover, the game world is as wonderfully unforgiving as you'd expect. You may be rummaging through your pack trying to craft a new item, and get poisoned by a stealthy snake, or you may run out of food and watch helplessly as Scout slowly dies of starvation. It's brutal, and death sends you back to the beginning, but it doesn't feel discouraging in doing so.
The atmosphere is suitably lonely; you'll pick your way through ruined villages and desolated campsites all over, reminding you of the world that once was prior to the catastrophe. Procedural generation helps keep you engaged as well, offering up a brand new experience each time and making simple discoveries genuinely exciting. The river is also a nice touch; it ties the broader game world together, while also providing a sense of movement and progress. Each time you return to the raft, your odds have improved however insignificantly, as you slowly accrue a larger stockpile of tools and items to help you out.
The Flame in the Flood is brutal, and death sends you back to the beginning, but it doesn't feel discouraging in doing so
Perhaps the most compelling part of all this is how it demands that you make dozens of important decisions on the fly, all of which will ultimately decide how far Scout makes it down river. Do you stay at this current island and sleep at the campsite, or move further along in hopes of finding better shelter before nightfall? Should you try to fight that wild boar, or should you cut your losses and get back on the boat? Every second is spent weighing chances and deciding what the best course of action is, as Scout's various health levels won't wait for you to make up your mind.
All in all, we really liked what we saw with The Flame in the Flood. Though there really isn't anything that particularly sets it apart from its peers – other than the river, of course – it nonetheless provides an engaging, continually dynamic environment that requires you to constantly concoct new tactics. For those of you that enjoyed Don't Starve, this is right up your alley, and while it seems to largely be a straight port of the PC beta which began in 2015, it'll make for a fine addition to the PS4 library.
Will you be joining The Flame in the Flood down by the riverside? Lay down your thoughts in the comments section below.