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Sidescrolling Stealth Sim: Wildfire

Furtive firestarter

I saw a couple of animated gifs from an early build of Wildfire a few weeks ago, and found them far more exciting than any big budget super-trailer. From the mind of Daniel Hindes, creator of the stealth game collective Sneaky Bastards, the game blends Far Cry 2's fire propagation system, Thief's approach to stealth and AI, and the philosophy of immersive sims. It's a game about outwitting AI and manipulating the environment, mostly through the use of fire and water. Now on Kickstarter, aiming for A$10,000, Wildfire looks like everything I hoped it might be when I first saw those tiny gifs.

Watch on YouTube

Wildfire is the Thief to Broforce's Duke Nukem 3D.

I've been a fan of Sneaky Bastards since reading a series of articles on Thief II: The Metal Age (only four of a proposed fifteen have been published to date), and I'm pleased to see Hindes and chums moving into development and design. Wildfire, as should be expected given the influences, appears to be built around a group of dynamic systems that bleed into one another while responding to the player's actions.

The key ingredients are fire and things that react to fire. The latter group includes terrain, objects, people and animals.

Flames in Wildfire will spread across the environment. Objects caught in the blaze will catch on fire, melt, or detonate, which can create opportunities for you to exploit. But you can also lose control of the situation, and have to improvise a new way forward. Though fire can frighten enemies, it can also burn away the grass you otherwise hide in, or reveal you with its glow in darker environments.

As fires rage, enemies might make use of the light, flushing you from the shadows. Or they may panic and flee.

Enemies in Wildfire aren't throwaway obstacles; they will intelligently work together to hunt you down. Guards respond to sound disturbances by investigating areas and will talk to each other, calling nearby comrades to their aid if they catch sight of you. Though you may be outnumbered, you have superior information: you can see further than the guards, as well as how far every sound will travel, allowing you to plan ahead and play with intent. Along with your superior movement abilities, such as sliding and climbing, getting past guards requires smarts, not strength.

There's a playable alpha build available right now, but future versions will only be available to $20+ tier backers.

If you fancy digging deeper into Hindes' thoughts on stealth mechanics (and more), you might want to take a look at the 100 page Sneaky Bastards magazine devoted to Dishonored.

Now, go to the Greenlight page and look at all the lovely animated scenes.

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