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.


  1. Freud says:

    Aren’t there a lot of games made by ex-Irrational people these days? A bit like games made by ex-Looking Glass people fifteen years ago.

    • spartanboy56 says:

      There sure are. Off the top of my head I’m pretty sure some ex-irrational devs are working on the horror game perception

  2. bit.bat says:

    Whoa, that’s a great video.

  3. Wisq says:

    Interesting how much this feels like Supergiant Games, even if it’s not. The bright, paint-like colours; the strong, evocative musical score; the sense of hope in a world gone horribly wrong. Is this its own genre now?

  4. brucethemoose says:

    Great music, and I dig the whole apocalyptic American frontier thing too.

    To save ya’ll from some Googling, song in the trailer is literally “Flame in the Flood”:

    • suibhne says:

      It’s part of the game’s OST. One of the (achieved) Stretch Goals for the KS campaign was a full Chuck Ragan soundtrack, but he created this title track for the original KS pitch.

      • suibhne says:

        Actually, I guess Ragan was always doing the soundtrack – my recollection was simply wrong. Either way, I love the title track and look forward to the rest of the OST.

        • Shiloh says:

          [Am]In the backwaters be[F]yond fables and years
          Is [C]freedom in [E]moving on
          [Am]There’s a silence that may [F]be heard loud and clear
          In the [C]simple, wild, and [E]natural cadence
          [F]Keep my eyes opened
          [C]Keep my ears sharpened
          [E]There’s nothing to fear
          [Am]But fear itself in
          [F]Oh desperation, [C]chasing horiz[E]ons
          In the flame and the [Am]flood

    • MultiVaC says:

      Anyone know if the buyers of the game will also get a copy of the soundtrack at the time of release (or before)? Chuck Ragan’s music is probably the most exciting part of the project for me. I think they mentioned it would be available on iTunes and stuff, but even though I’ve sworn off buying anything with the words “early access” and “survival” for a while the game does look promising. If it also includes the OST whenever it’s ready I figure I’d just go for it and get check out the game now.

      • suibhne says:

        It certainly won’t be included with the retail purchase at first, given that it’s bundled with higher KS backer tiers. I assume they’ll bundle it for a higher price, and you’ll no doubt get a screaming deal on that bundle in a far future Steam sale.

      • derbefrier says:

        Yeah the game looks cool but I want that soundtrack

  5. freedomispopular says:

    Knowing when to stick to your vision and knowing when to modify your vision based on player feedback has got to be one of the biggest challenges for a lot of EA devs.

  6. 2lab says:

    Could we get a hint as to how the game is to play, what kind of game is it and how do we control it. I now know a fair bit bout the crafting system but..is it arpg style, fps, twin stick, point and click or whatever. Just a hint would be nice.

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      It’s a visual novel controlled via your mind. It’s also an MMO, not unlike The Matrix (the movie, not the game). If you die in the game you die for real.

      • 2lab says:

        Cool, If we win win do we fix all of the problems in the world?

    • KevinLew says:

      It’s like an ARPG with the movement, but it’s definitely a survival game with hunger/thirst/fatigue meters. In addition, you have to be able to navigate the river without crashing into anything, which is harder than you expect. Enemies in the game can’t even be attacked until you progress into the middle of the crafting tech tree–otherwise you have no choice but to run.

      One more thing. In the game, if you get a negative effect on your character, then this results in a condition that MUST be fixed within a certain time limit. If you do not, then 90% of the time, the condition is replaced with an increasingly worse condition until you die.

  7. qrter says:

    The whole going-down-a-river-and-dodging-things mechanic is still a big turn-off for me, even if they have slowed it down.

    Everything else looks lovely, though.

  8. MadMinstrel says:

    I was going to buy this thing for a minute there, based purely on this article. I played the video, just in case. And then I saw her face. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO HER FACE?!!!?!