[PlayStation 4] Blue Fire Review
Blue Fire from Graffiti Games and Robi Studios is a challenging 3D action platformer on PS4. Check our Blue Fire review!
Imagine, if you will, that you are seven years of age, and after being a fan of The Legend of Zelda games for a while, you want to cut your teeth playing those Dark Souls games you’ve heard so much about. So what do you do? Well, you could jump straight in and regret your life choices, or you can try to ease yourself in gently. If you plan to do the latter, do not try to do it with Robi Studios and Graffiti Games’ Blue Fire, because while from the outset, Blue Fire feels like a mash-up of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Dark Souls, delving further underneath leads you to find a platformer not afraid to mix things up a bit.
The game’s beginning is similar to many others. You play as an unknown hero trapped in a glass case in the middle of a castle. Your main goal is to escape and to figure out the mysteries behind it all. Story-wise, the game will not win any awards, but as far as gameplay and implementation of ideas, there is a lot to sit down and take stock of. The first thing you do is attacking your surroundings with the Square button. You are taught all you need to know about the combat, from locking onto enemies, switching between enemies, and using your abilities to combat multiple enemies.
With such a combat-heavy tutorial and the understanding that upon dying, you deposit your collected currency at your location of death and must collect it again before your next death, or it is gone for good. You would be forgiven for thinking that everything here is setting you up for a combat-heavy game. Heck, the game even tries to get you to buy Dark Souls-style character emotes, selling you on the idea that they serve a bigger purpose than they really do. Instead, what you should be focusing on are the platforming trials scattered during the early stages of the game as they truly show you what Blue Flame is really all about.
Navigating the maps feel like trying to solve a platforming puzzle and the enemies you face are just there to distract from the constant platforming. You have a number of abilities to help you to move around, with the best one being the dash. Whilst it is advertised as a combat ability, it is more useful when attempting to negate fall damage. Other abilities include a wall run and a wall hop, the latter not really getting an explanation of how or when to use it.
With that said, some aspects of the game feel underdeveloped. As previously mentioned, combat is not the main focus of the game. This is more telling when you realize the first few bosses you meet in the game are just regular enemies but multiplied. The game would have felt a little more interesting if a little more thought and attention had gone into the boss fights, especially when using Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda as your inspiration for combat. The previously mentioned Breath of the Wild-esque trials you come across during your playthrough reward you with a new heart container upon completion. Should you lose a lot of those hearts due to combat or environmental pitfalls, you are able to use a potion that can fully heal you, but they do come in limited quantities. Whilst this is not the most egregious part, it does feel rather trying when the game deems it necessary to give you potions in abundance whenever you are at your capacity, but the moment you actually need them to drop, you can never see them for love nor money. Another complaint with regards to the combat is that your character’s hitbox seems to be a little larger than expected.
Your character is a cute little mask-wearing dual-wielding chibified little munchkin that barely gets off the ground but is capable of jumping a respectable distance. A few times, I attempted to jump over the heads of sword-wielding enemies as they made a horizontal slash, only for them to still register a hit when I was at the apex of my jump. Whilst this problem is not the biggest problem in the world, it does make for some unnecessary moments of frustration. Thankfully, these hitbox issues seem to be very few and far between. It is clear that combat is not the main focus of this game, and platforming is. So what does it do in that front?
Well, the level design is great for the most part. The locations you visit are varied and keep with the general theme of the game. Whilst each zone has its own aesthetics, you soon appreciate that each zone fits together well, thanks in great part to the attempt at building a cohesive atmosphere and a living – if sparse – world.
There are characters you meet who just seem to be there to break from the continuous platforming and combat of the game but don’t really do much to add a different dynamic or perspective to the game.
Throughout the game, you come across chests that offer you a variety of gems, but they all seem to offer no real purpose other than to look great in your collection. The same can be said for the spirits that grant you passive abilities when equipped. Whilst they are helpful, like the ability that adds additional poison damage to your attacks or the one that negates fall damage, nothing here feels overly polished or thought out. For example, I mentioned earlier that upon dying in combat, you are taken back to the statue you last saved at and have to collect your currency before it’s gone for good. But weirdly, the same doesn’t happen should you fall during platforming or die due to the environment. If you are reset, you are taken back to the beginning of the platforming section instead of the last patch of solid ground you were on, leading to some instances of frustration. When the platforming clicks and you understand what it is you are doing, then everything is fine. But when it doesn’t, the game just feels disjointed and uninspired.
There is a great game here, albeit not fully realized. If Blue Fire had leaned harder on its inspiration from The Legend of Zelda series and the Dark Souls franchise, this would be an instant recommendation without a shadow of a doubt. Blue Fire is a good game once you sift through the missteps. The trials are genuinely interesting and give you a challenge. The world design is worthy of a tour, and the sound design is certainly not offensive to the ears. Blue Fire is out on PlayStation 4 with a $19.99 price.
This Blue Fire review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Graffiti Games.