Fire: review

  • Format: PC (version reviewed), Mac
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Developer: EuroVideo Medien
  • Players: 1
  • Site: www.daedalic.de/en/game/FIRE

Game code provided by the publisher

EuroVideo Medien’s Fire is a point and click adventure game that, on the surface, seems to have it all. Cavemen dally about with aliens, travel to the primordial ages and back again, shape-shift into animals, and even take a trip to the moon. The problem is that none of it means anything.

In Daedalic Entertainment’s latest published game, narrative takes a backseat. The game opens as the game’s protagonist, a caveman idiotic even by their standards, gets kicked out of his village after leaving a fire burning all night. A short apple-induced psychedelic trip later, the apple tree’s spirits become trapped and scattered throughout the world. Naturally, the caveman must find them.

That’s all there is to the story, setting up a thin veneer of context for the ensuing puzzles that unfortunately suffer for the lack of compelling rationale. Adventure games have come a long way since being little more than a series of convoluted puzzles for the sake of it, but Fire seems to be stuck as far back as its protagonist.

If this is intentional, it was a job well done. Despite the framework of a basic point and click adventure, a lot of the puzzles are very creative and well executed. An early puzzle features three cavemen who must be manipulated through the music created by a group of furry, beatboxing animals who happen to love strawberries. There are also a handful of puzzles that take the player’s interactions with the game into account rather than the character’s, such as moving a platform at the behest of hovering the cursor over it, chipping away at a rock by swiping the cursor back and forth, or navigating a maze to the next screen.

Prehistoric bees couldn’t fly up, apparently.

The puzzles aren’t all great, however, as a few of them are either overly simple, frustratingly convoluted, or require enormous leaps of logic. One puzzle that exemplifies this is the shape-shifting one which features the caveman turning into a selection of animals. At one point you have to put a rock on a pedestal to ensure the mouse form can get across a rollercoaster-like contraption. The rock is only necessary, however, because the mouse insists on stopping in mid-air instead of simply allowing his momentum to carry him forward to his next target, which he has ample room to reach. The purpose of all this is to reach the tree spirit that lingers up in the air, despite the fact that the caveman was in the form of a bee only moments ago. He’s not the smartest of neanderthals, but why he didn’t just fly up and pop the bubble trapping the spirit is more of a head-scratcher than any of Fire’s puzzles.

This puzzle was also bugged. In order to shape-shift, the caveman is supposed to place three stones on three panels. However, simply going to the screen to the left will trigger the leftmost panel indefinitely, removing the need for the third stone altogether and allowing players to skip over a chunk of the puzzle. Admittedly this is the only bug we came across, however.

The game’s method of communicating to the player is also something of a mixed bag, adding to these problems. Sometimes Fire does a wonderful job of nudging you in the right direction such as having the caveman dance when he inches closer to a solution. Other times, the game really suffers from a lack of dialogue since animations just don’t do enough for players to intuit the correct direction.

There is one thing Fire gets unerringly right: Art. The game features a vivid and colourful art style that borrows heavily from some of the great cartoons of our childhoods. Character design in particular is fantastic: a cat with an 8 ball for a stomach hangs out beside a dinosaur with a curtain covering his brain, which somehow worked its way into his stomach. Everything is presented in a very distinct manner, so players won’t have to worry about any nasty pixel hunts.

The soundtrack is largely forgettable, though never nauseating either. The music evokes a very prehistoric feel with its simplistic drum beats and maintains an upbeat feel throughout that perfectly meshes with the art, so while you won’t be humming any of the songs or searching out the soundtrack, it certainly sets the right mood.

The poor shaman never thought to look up before beginning his dance.

Fire relies on its joke a lot, and they’re a tad too hit and miss. While accidentally blowing up a shaman to gain his rainstick or turning cavemen into slabs of meat via the power of music tickled our funny bones, a giant mobile phone popping up in prehistoric times and forcing you through rote minigames that make stale jokes about microtransactions, porn pop-ups, and tindr’s existence before turning into a spaceship are clear attempts at randomness that fell a bit flat with us. Humour is perhaps the most subjective thing on the face of the planet though, so judge those examples for yourselves, readers.

Fire highlights the genre’s greatest strength and driving force by omission: Story. As unique and challenging as the game’s puzzles are, a lack of compelling narrative to weave them all together creates the sense of working through exercises in a text book, albeit a very pretty and creative one.

critical score 5

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Written by Adam S

Hailing from Parts Unknown, Adam grew up with a passion for three things: Videogames, anime, and writing. Unfortunately his attempts to combine the three have yet to form Captain Planet, but they have produced some good byproducts.

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