The River Wild.
Survival games seem to be the new hot thing. Well, they’re not particularly new anymore, but I haven’t really explored them much in the past few years they came into the limelight. Aside from a few rounds of Don’t Starve and a weekend stint with Minecraft, I had never touched these kinds of scavenge/crafting games. Now that I have braved the river of The Flame in the Flood, I can most certainly see the appeal of these survival games, even if they can be brutally difficult.
Players take on the role of Scout, a young woman who has survived a cataclysmic flood that has wiped out most of humanity. She has held up enough so far, but now needs to move on to find shelter, food, and drinkable water. This is all kick-started by a friendly dog showing up to come to her aid. She then jumps on a raft and rides the rushing river in hopes that at the end of it, there will be salvation.
Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC
Price I’d pay: $14.99
Players must maintain Scout’s hunger, thirst, temperature, and sleep meters. This is mainly done through finding materials and crafting things through the menu. Find some plants that are good for eating after cooked? Make a fire by finding some lumber. Getting cold? Craft a trap and try to capture a rabbit for their fur to make clothing. Of course, just scavenging can yield some decent rewards as well, but that requires exploration and in The Flame in the Flood, exploration can be very deadly.
Running into wild animals like wolves and boars can mean death to Scout if she is not well equipped, even when she is, it’s not a guarantee. Sometimes players have to understand when to fight and when to run. Each area is a place Scout can dock her raft and search, rest, and craft, while the “overworld” is the river itself. While going down the river looking for new areas to dock, players must navigate the treacherous waters in hopes of not wrecking Scout’s raft. Last thing anyone wants to do is shipwreck. Oh, and don’t forget about disease. I randomly got bit by a bunch of ants. I needed to treat the bites but had nothing to do it with so I continued on. That eventually became an infection, when then turned into sepsis. I was on the verge of death until I finally found a refuge where I was able to scavenge some Penicillin. That was a crazy run.
The main meta mechanic here is when Scout dies (and she will) she has to start over from the beginning. Now, there are checkpoints that can be found if players make it farther down river, but if the player were to turn off their system, those checkpoints will be lost so the whole “one more turn” mentality really keeps this game going. Don’t think all is lost. If players do die, their friendly dog will keep the inventory players gave him and when starting a new run, he will still have that stuff on him. It’s a nice way to transfer some later game stuff while making death not so devastating.
There are a few hiccups here and there as far as quality of life things go. Inventory management can be cumbersome when transferring things from Scout to the dog and back to Scout since things won’t transfer when one is full. So I end up dropping things on the ground only to pick them right back up after making my transfer. The other issue is the steering of the raft. It took me a good three runs to finally wrap my head around the controls of the raft, and even then it can be rather wonky at times. Granted, some of the better controls are hidden behind upgrades for the raft (yet another crafting need.)
The presentation is what sets this game apart for me. The look and feel of the overall game along with the stellar soundtrack really nails the desolate, yet calm end of the world. I highly enjoyed it. While the game can be complex at times, it really felt like a beginner’s guide to survival games. One thing I didn’t actually like about Don’t Starve was how the game just dropped players into the world and had them just go. This one at least eases players into its world and ramps up after that.
I had a really fun time with The Flame in the Flood. It was a difficult experience but one that felt rewarding at the same time. It is easy to get into for newer players, and a decent starting point for survival games if one hasn’t played them before. All for a decent $15 price tag. Even with its issues here and there, I highly suggest giving this one a shot.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.