Blue Fire

Game review by
Angelica Guarino, Common Sense Media
Blue Fire Game Poster Image
Patience is a virtue in this 3D action platformer.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

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

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.

Sex
Language

In rare instances, the word "hell" appears in dialogue.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

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What's it about?

The opening scene of BLUE FIRE starts off with a hero waking from a long sleep, without any understanding of who or where they are. The world of Penumbra is revealed through tiny installments of information, discovered mostly through short conversations with the world's inhabitants. Over time, players learn that the tragedy of Penumbra began long ago, when one of the six gods who ruled the land decided to turn their back on the others, wishing to hoard power for themself. A large war ensued, leaving Penumbra's castle to serve as a fortress for the few remaining creatures who survived. There's an intentional bare-bones approach to the storytelling, which permits players to interpret story clues in their own way.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about accessibility in gaming. Why do some games take pride in being extremely difficult, and why do some players support that? Is it important to offer tutorials, instructions, and adjustable difficulty levels in games? Why or why not?

  • Are the skills of focus and precision naturally present in a player, or are they learned? Can these skills offer any benefits in other aspects of life, or are they contained to this specific activity? How? 

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

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