The Flame in the Flood is a procedurally generated, rogue-like survival game that takes you on a journey down a river in a forgotten, post-societal America. You take on the role of a female protagonist, Scout, who has to fight for survival against the harsh conditions of the flooded wasteland beyond. Your only company is a pet dog, Aesop, who follows your every step, carrying useful items and warning of dangers ahead.
You begin the game with a short tutorial section that will get you acquainted with the simple controls and clever crafting system, and you will then be let loose on a raft downstream with little guidance for the rest of the game. You must navigate your way down the river, avoiding rocks, rapids, and floating debris, and find places to moor your raft while you scavenge for supplies.
The aim is to survive your journey downstream by making sure Scout's food, water, energy, and warmth stats are always at their fullest. Each of these stats slowly decrease as time progresses, and it requires a lot of effort to keep on top of it all; collecting food and water is what will take up the majority of your time in the wilderness. Food can be foraged for in the form of different plants, garlic, corn, and dandelions, but the best food is definitely meat. To acquire meat you must build snares to capture rabbits or spear traps to kill boars or wolves and then use a fire to cook up a filling meal. Water is also a resource that you cannot live without and you require a jar to obtain it. Once you have obtained a jar and collected some water from your nearest source, it requires filtering to ensure Scout doesn't catch any nasty diseases. Filters require several other salvageable items to craft as well, so searching every nook and cranny while exploring is the key to surviving.
However you're not able to hoard all your supplies until you need them as you have a very limited space in your rucksack, meaning you're constantly dipping in and out of your inventory to make vital decisions on the value of one item over the other. We had to make several of these tough decisions on our attempts at survival and often threw away the item that would have saved us the next day. You live and you learn... Or not in this case.
The Flame in the Flood is a permadeath game and so when you die you have to restart from the very beginning. There is a slightly easier mode which includes checkpoints along the river, but they are very well spaced so it still feels very punishing when you die. With every death, though, you'll learn from your previous mistakes and want to push yourself to do better the next time around. You soon learn what materials and items to pick-up on your journey and which ones to leave well alone. Also, to combat the brutality of permadeath there is Aesop's bag; you're able to fill this bag with useful items and when you die it'll be available from the start of your next attempt.
The crafting system has a good sense of depth to it with certain items only unlocking once you have crafted another item; for instance, you cannot craft any clothing until you have made a stitching kit using a fishing hook and line. There is a whole host of items, weapons, clothing, and food to be crafted in a similar manner and you must learn what each item does by trying it out, the good ol' fashioned way.
The game's visuals are beautifully abstract drawings that are filled with dull and faded colours that suit the barren and abandoned environment perfectly. The audio is equally fitting with a very sullen soundtrack that blends with the atmosphere to enhance the dire situation Scout is in.
The Flame in the Flood is a superb rogue-like survival game with a deep crafting system, charmingly beautiful presentation, and challenging gameplay that entices you back time and time again to try and best your previous run. If you're a survival fan and you're in a dry spot for games at the moment, we suggest you jump right into this one. Well, assuming that you can swim of course.