Publisher: Graffiti Games
Developer: ROBI Studios
Release: February 4th, 2021
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
If you took Celeste, mixed in some 3D Zelda, and added a dash of Dark Souls, the concoction would be one of the most difficult 3D puzzle games I’ve played in a long time. That creation is Blue Fire, a new IP from Graffiti Games. It’s a beautiful creation and an ode to challenging platformers, but it’s not without its blemishes.
The game begins with Umbra, the protagonist, awaking in the Fire Keep. After a few tutorials on how to move around, you go out and explore. Graphically speaking, the game is really beautiful, it reminds me a lot of Zelda. It has a bit of a cartoon style to it, but yet grounded as not to give it too much of a goofy look. As you go about exploring, the first thing you’ll notice is a lack of a map, which is probably one of the most glaring omissions in the game, as it really needs a map. There are so many different paths that you can take and the hallways look a lot alike. You’ll find yourself turned around a lot. A mini map in the top corner of the screen would help a lot.
The game’s strength is its platforming. The action flows really well and as you continue through the levels. You learn new skills to help you through some of the game’s challenging levels: double jumping, dashing, and running on walls all feel really good. And they better, because the platforming in this game is really challenging. Besides the main quest, with its own challenging platforms and puzzle levels, you also have the ability to enter Voids, side quest platform levels that will reward you with an extra heart container. While you can skip these Voids, you’ll soon realize that you need those extra hearts.
The game incorporates a currency system in the form of ore. Ore is used to access checkpoints and to buy emotes from statues you find throughout the game (emotes are used to unlock different chests you find). This brings me to my second complaint with the game – the lack of checkpoints. Checkpoints are so few and far between and you need ore to unlock the checkpoints. Luckily, there is plenty of ore to be found in the game, hidden in barrels throughout each level. But if you are as unlucky as I am, and die before you reach the checkpoint, you have to start all over from the previous checkpoint. You’ll quickly realize how frustrating a lack of a map can be.
My third and final criticism is with the combat. The game does really well with the platforming and the jumping and dashing, but the combat takes away from the experience. You’ll find yourself button mashing and when you get hit (you will get hit) the bounce back mechanic thwarts your enjoyment of getting past a challenging platforming section. It’ll end up knocking you back either into a pile of lava (which hurts) or kicking you completely off the edge altogether. And if you didn’t get to a checkpoint...well you know what happens.
Final Grade: B
Understanding how difficult the game is, Graffiti Games created their own downloadable official strategy guide, which can be found on their website. While the strategy guide helps (and it’s beautifully created to boot) Blue Fire is one of the most difficult games I’ve played in a very long time. Thank goodness the movement actions (dash, double jump, wall run) you learn throughout the game are well done, because this is a platformer first and a combat game second. If you are looking for something that is punishingly difficult, yet beautifully created, and can forgive a few of it’s blemishes, then this game will certainly be up your alley.
Review code provided by VIM Global