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Ex-BioShock Folks' Flame In The Flood In Early Access

A few months ago I published up my impressions of an early build of The Flame in the Flood [official site], a sort of roguelike/white water rafting mash-up set in the backwaters of a drowned but contemporary America, and made by ex-Irrational, Harmonix, and Bungie devs. Which was jolly stupid of me, given the only other people who could play it at that point where those who’d backed its Kickstarter. Fortunately, it’s now on Steam Early Access, which means you can buy it, which means I positively demand that you read my earlier article on it first.

Back with me? OK, I have more to say. In fact it’s updated a few times since the last time I played it, and pretty much overwhelmingly that in good ways. My essential feeling about it before was that it had a lovely aesthetic but the surviving and crafting side of things was frustratingly hamstrung by arbitrary restrictions. Maybe I wasn’t alone in thinking that.

That siliness with not being able to collect water from a world 90% made of water has been resolved, so now you can fill up jars from the river at any point, but you’ll need to have constructed a filter in order to make it drinkable.

The rafting seems to have slowed down a little too, so it’s less of a nightmarish Dragon’s Layer reflex challenge, and the range of buildable items has expanded and becomes more accessible more quickly. You can also sleep at any fire – if there are no threats around – rather than have to scour the drowned landscape for buildings.

So the devs are clearly receptive to changing things up if people aren’t having a good time. I know drifting from one’s original design because the players wish it so can be a miserable business – and that would seem to by why the Darkest Dungeon guys are resisting it despite concerns – but I rather think The Flame In The Flood is trying to be Experience rather than Gruelling Micro-Management.

Excellent, as far as I’m concerned: this is a pretty, sad, characterful place I want to spend time in, and fewer frustrations and repetitions will help with that enormously. It’s still very early days, of course, but one to watch, I think.

The Flame in the Flood is £14.99 on Steam Early Access. The full launch is expected in six months.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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