The Flame in the Flood

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
The Flame in the Flood Game Poster Image
Difficult survival adventure has steep learning curve.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

About survival amid harshest conditions. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

You're encouraged to leave as little a carbon footprint as possible, preserve ecosystem, not harm animals. 

Ease of Play

Very steep learning curve, heavy focus on strategy, making deliberate moves to survive as long as possible.

Violence

You can poison animals, but there's no gore, minor amounts of blood, aggressive behavior on behalf of animals.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Flame in the Flood is a downloadable rogue-like game, self-styled as a "roguelite." That means this game is heavy on strategy, hinging on careful planning and deliberate moves, and is also impossible to win. The point of games like these is to survive as long as you possibly can and try to keep beating your own records. As such, don't be fooled by the "lite"; this game is challenging and has a steep learning curve. Players do have the option to poison some animals, although no gore and very little blood is shown; this contrasts with the game's positive ecological message.

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What's it about?

In THE FLAME IN THE FLOOD, the story is fairly simple: You forage, craft supplies, and fend off predators as you try to survive on the backwaters of a devastated world. You appear to be the only person still alive, and it seems all humans have vanished a long time ago. Why they've disappeared is a total mystery. You play as Scout, a female survivor of these flooded lands, with her companion dog Aesop, and attempt to salvage whatever you can find on your lashed-together raft consisting of random parts of flotsam. The PS4 version comes with a director's commentary, avatars, a background theme for the system, and other adjustments in what's called the Complete Edition.

Is it any good?

This adventure game with randomly generated gameplay elements is hard -- very hard. Part of that is due to the genre, and part of that is due to the fact that it doesn't have lengthy tutorials or excessive hand-holding. You understand your general aim is to survive, but how to do that and last for more than a few days will, even for experienced players, prove very challenging. The basic flow of the game is: You start on foot, wander around an island, and see what supplies you can use and what shelter you might be able to take. You also attempt to avoid any predators who might be lurking until you learn how to get supplies for setting traps or generally defending yourself. You also have many health bars that must be managed and observed at all times (hunger, body temperature, thirst, sleep), so being on the go all the time may not be the best course of action. For example, if it rains, you might be better off staying on foot to fill your jars with drinkable water. But by doing this, you'll probably get cold, and, given the wet environment, it's much harder to build a fire. So if the immediate island you're on doesn't provide much in the way of shelter, you can get on your raft and try to rough it to the next outpost to try your luck there. On and on.

It's a cycle that, as indicated, is rough but makes sense given the subject matter. As such, the upshots will be apparent for people with a propensity and appetite for a challenge. The game shines when you learn you're a better survivor than you thought you were or when you flat-out get lucky, finding the parts necessary for a water filter when you were on the verge of dehydrating or finding a safe place when being hunted by predators. It's those successions of tensions and releases that make sticking with the challenge of The Flame in the Flood worthwhile.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about disasters. What would you do if you were marooned in the woods and all you had was a raft and not enough supplies to get you through a few days? How would you survive?

  • Beyond survival, what would you do to feel like a human being -- that is, to laugh and still be able to find indulgences to enjoy? 

Game details

Themes & Topics

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