|Blue Fire Review|
|Available On||PC, Switch|
|Release Date||February 4, 2021|
|Time Spent Playing||20 Hours|
|Game provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review|
Take two parts Zelda, one part Hollow Knight, sprinkle in some parkour 3D puzzle platforming stages and you have yourself a nifty little game called Blue Fire. What Robi Studios was able to do by pulling parts of those games together and putting their own spin on it was something special. Studios can rely so heavily on what they borrow from games that came before them, but Robi Studios was able to blend these styles together so well with Blue Fire. Not overcomplicating things helped create a beautiful playing experience that was only hindered by some frustrating game crashes.
The cut scene on startup does a great job setting the overall mood and tones that will be encountered. Looking from off in the distance at a floating castle-like fortress, we quickly find ourselves in a glass container of water. After a few quick taps, the glass breaks and the adventure begins. With a quick glance in the next room, it’s not hard to notice the eerily familiar-looking bodies piled up, foreshadowing the dangers that will be encountered and the failures of those before us.
The story is pretty simple, the kingdom of Penumbra is in turmoil. It has been taken over by a black, lava-like substance and various enemies. While the beginning of Blue Fire feels like you are trapped in a small castle, it is quickly learned that Penumbra is much more than stone walls and wooden doors. Each new area you uncover has its own unique story to tell by using the environment and various NPCs inhabitant of that specific location. These NPCs offer side quests that can be a nice break from the main mission of finding a dungeon and beating its boss.
Another break from the main story are places called Voids. They take you to puzzle-platforming levels that are rated by a 5-star system. Just hovering next to the statue before entering the void will let you know what star it is. Let me tell you, this is the most fun and the most frustrating part of the game. Completing voids are the only way to increase hearts, so this is a place where Blue Fire pivots from the heart pieces found in Zelda. Early on, the first few voids that are discovered are fairly easy, but they do ramp up quickly. Some will require abilities that are learned along with the quests. Blue Fire doesn’t relay this information thought and I wish they did. They don’t necessarily have to reveal what ability needs to be in my possession, but maybe just give a disclaimer that the void can’t be completed because the missing ability hasn’t been found yet.
Combat is nothing to write home about and that is perfectly fine. Blue Fire keeps it simple with sword attacks and a lock-on system that can be used with a dash move to perform some powerful combos. The duel swords you wield can be upgraded, however, providing more damage and changing cosmetically. Blue Fire does provide some customizing to the playstyle with Spirits, which is very similar to Hollow Knight’s badge system. These spirits can be found in the wild or purchased with orbs through various NPCs. Orbs are Blue Fires currency and can be earned through various side quests, or just go full-on old school Zelda and smash some vases.
One other small thing I really enjoyed about this game were the tunics and character emotes. Now, normally emotes are useless in games except for maybe starting a dance party at the Tower in Destiny. In Blue Fire, emotes are not useless. They actually serve a purpose, but one I won’t spoil and will let you figure out on your own. Tunics add a small but really noticeable way of changing up your character’s style. I was really impressed with how something so simple felt so great.
Unfortunately, this game had quite a few game crashing bugs on steam. Most of the bugs I encountered didn’t have huge impacts. They either crashed the game as I was loading into another area of the map, so I didn’t mind them too much. There were a few instances, however, where it was super frustrating and gut-punching. Upon death, Blue Fire has a soul recovery system very similar to Hollow Knight and Dark Souls. Fight your way back to the place you died, recover the floating soul, and boom, all the orbs you earned are replenished. There were a few instances where I would die and the game would crash immediately. Loading back in, there was no soul to go back to, so the orbs were lost forever. It’s a tough pill to swallow when saving up for an expensive spirit and suddenly the 5000 orbs you worked so hard for are gone. It is clearly something that will need to be fixed soon because it could discourage someone from grinding out those orbs again.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Blue Fire. After raging on some dungeon bosses and raising my blood pressure trying to navigate the way through crazy puzzles and platforming voids, I was able to beat this game right around the 20-hour mark. The game crashing bugs were annoying and will need to be addressed sooner rather than later. With all the Zelda and Hollow Knight influences, it was hard not to love this game. Blue Fire’s skills weren’t hard to learn, but mastering is a whole other topic that involves a ton of patience, a steady hand, a pillow to scream into, and taking a deep breath or two….or three…..or four.