Blue Fire Review
Platforming defined much of our childhood gaming experiences. Whether you had an NES growing up or an N64, it’s sad they don’t get as much love as they used to, outside the odd Super Mario game. Between games like A Hat in Time and Yooka-Laylee, Indie developers have done much to keep the genre alive, bringing us a mini-revival in the last few years. Now we’ve got Blue Fire from Argentinian developers ROBI Studios, a significantly tougher experience that aims to challenge us via precision platforming.
Playing as “The Warrior of Light and Shadow”, we find ourselves waking up in the Abandoned Keep, having slumbered for an unknown amount of time. Within this ravaged world called Penumbra lies a corruption called Shadows, one that destroyed Kings and Gods alike. Holding a balance of dark and light within them, it isn’t long before The Warrior gets approached by Nuos, God of Knowledge, asking you to free his resting place from the shadows. From that point on, our real journey begins, seeking to free the five Gods who once ruled this land.
The Warrior holds a basic moveset, starting with jumping and dash before gradually unlocking new skills like wall running. Plenty of enemies will try stopping him and combat-wise, you can slice your way through with a blade or launch fire blasts with a mana meter, locking onto specific enemies as you do. For defensive manoeuvres, dash offers a quick dodge, and you’ve also got a magical barrier. Everything works effectively and should you start running low on health; players can also hold two Flame Essences in your inventory, which act as quick health restoration.
Once you’ve gotten through Blue Fire’s initial area and come to grips with these controls, you’ll soon discover gameplay is split into two segments. Before meeting Nuos, The Warrior is approached by Von, last of the Fire Guards. Advising us to seek out gateways called Void Entrances, these contain the “Secret Power of the Guards” and 16 of them will pop up across your travels. Offering platforming only challenges, you won’t face any enemies within but be prepared. They leave little room for error.
It sure is pretty
Voids are designed to test you, advising how difficult they’ll be on a 1/5-star scale beforehand, and each holds 30 collectable void souls’ players can craft into spirit slots, which we’ll come back to. Between endless pits, spiked floors, small platforms that break apart, tight corners and more, be prepared for a tough ride. The Warrior gains an extra heart of health upon completion, but some trials feel a little too precise, leaving no room for error. If you fail, there aren’t any checkpoints, meaning you have to restart and that gets frustrating fast.
The Warrior will travel across this plagued but visually stunning land
Outside of these, The Warrior will travel across this plagued but visually stunning land, going beyond the Abandoned Keep to wider settlements like Stone Heart City. There’s freedom to explore, and though Blue Fire retains a linear story, you can revisit previous areas at will. Exploration is widely advised as this land is filled with collectables, making it quite rewarding. Some come as a set, letting you trade with NPCs for special items. Others are hidden within treasure chests, usually offering stronger weapons or rare gems. That’s not forgetting all the breakable crates/barrels/pots either, which contain Flame Essences and Ore, Blue Fire’s in-game currency.
Many areas also feature Flame Spirit Shrines, which cost Ore to activate, but upon doing so, will restore your health. You can also improve your mana meter here by trading black shadow fragments, which most enemies will drop. Shrines are also the only place Spirits can be equipped, which can offer significant perks during gameplay, such as health restoration when defeating enemies or doubling your collected Ore. They can be found on your journey or bought from NPCs, initially allowing two at once and add a lot of depth, letting you change spirits as necessary to suit your requirements.
Have some respect
Each major area also contains a Temple or Shrine, where their respective gods once resided, and they work like dungeons, proving quite reminiscent of older Legend of Zelda entries. Filled with platforming challenges to overcome, an element of puzzle-solving and collectables, they always end with a boss fight. Carefully balancing combat with that precision platforming, these proved rather satisfying to complete, never dragging on and though they weren’t easy, they didn’t feel quite as punishing as Voids.
If you’re seeking a more challenge experience, Blue Fire is worth a look, but it is a game which will test your patience. It’s only truly let down by the Void trials, and while there’s nothing wrong with a tougher experience, they stop being fun after just missing that platform for a fifth time in a row. Those willing to put that aside will find a game with plenty of depth, offering a solid visual presentation, enjoyable dungeons, and intriguing story which comes recommended.