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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
There are no real positive or negative messages to be found in the game. The minimal story is left vague for players to interpret events in their own way, leaving the focus on the platforming gameplay.
Positive Role Models
Many characters are faceless, both figuratively and literally. While some are able to offer small favors and side quests, interactions aren't long or deep enough to carry much influence.
Ease of Play
While certainly a challenge, the difficulty is incrementally raised in stages. This means that with practice and patience, even beginners will be able to give this a try, even if they may struggle with some of the combinations at first.
Violence & Scariness
The main character, Umbra, fights monsters of many kinds with their double swords. Vanquished enemies disappear in a puff of smoke, leaving combat rewards in the form of glowing orbs. There are a few enemies who will briefly bleed when struck, but because these enemies are abstract shadow creatures, combat doesn't feel realistic.
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In rare instances, the word "hell" appears in dialogue.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Blue Fire is a downloadable 3D action platformer game for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows. The setting is Penumbra, a desolate kingdom suffering from an infection of darkness that has destroyed its former prosperity. While there's violence with the character using double blades to eliminate creatures, this title's cute animated art style allows it to appear rather tame. Some shadowy creatures appear to bleed, but it doesn't seem realistic. While totally free of content with a sexual nature or from portraying any drug or alcohol usage, the word "hell" shows up in dialogue, but only for short moments spaced quite far apart. Blue Fire also scales its difficulty in increasingly challenging terrain, while adding combat and puzzles as supporting elements along the way, making it accessible to a range of players.
Is It Any Good?
Though it's designated as a 3D action platformer, this also feels like a puzzle game, as players must traverse stages with steadily increasing difficulty. Though some areas of Blue Fire may feel familiar from section to section, players never feel like they're repeating anything. What's remarkable about this is that practice and patience will make players substantially better over time, which isn't always the case in fast-paced action games that can sometimes outpace the skill level of some players. Here, there's time and space to grow, even including multiple ways to solve some puzzles.
The most impressive highlight of Blue Fire is its ability to walk the line between being satisfyingly challenging but not inaccessible. While you might stumble over a barrier many times before getting it right, every "game over" screen feels like a learning experience rather than a punishment. For beginners and experienced gamers alike, each puzzle is just complicated enough to give players a moderate pause, but also keep them moving. This translates to a feeling of accomplishment when an obstacle is finally overcome, as well as a moment to exhale from the fast pace of the game and refocus for the next hurdle if needed. While a beginner may not fly through the first stages, they also probably won't be stuck on the same level for hours. There are also two difficulty levels, with "newcomer" being available for beginners, and "recommended" reserved for everyone else. While this may seem like a simple addition, this speaks to an effort to be inclusive. Adding to this further is the metroidvania approach to tasks, meaning that once treasure chests and doors are unlocked, they are permanently available, taking some of the pressure off those who may not be able to easily make the long distance between checkpoints. Overall, this title is a fit for anyone with an interest in platformers, not just those with hundreds of hours logged in similar titles.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.