May 25, 2024
Flame Keeper is a dynamic rogue-lite that asks you to must sacrifice your life to restore the Eternal Flame. The Finger Guns review:

Flame Keeper is an action rogue-lite where burning out is entirely possible. The world of Orbis has been overrun by forces of darkness that have taken the light from the Eternal flame. You assume the role of Ignis, a special piece of burning coal. Ignis’s mission is to restore the Eternal flame. The consequence however, is his own life in return. Let’s get into it. 

We are introduced to Ignis in Vulpis Village, a location full of resources, community and upgrades that are available once resources are gathered from lands the protagonist needs to triumph in. Vulpis Village is your main hub from which Ignis can become better skilled and tactical around his adventure to relight the Eternal flame. 

With any rogue-lite it is important to know the mechanics of the game and Flame Keeper eases you into a small tutorial showing the basic attacks and aim of each level. Ignis’s main aim is to find lamps that he can re-attach to the campfire which will allow him to relight them. Ignis must transfer energy into the campfire on the land. This energy is taken from his own health bar, so players must be tactical about how they choose to transfer this energy. Energy is gained by collecting flames from the environment or defeating enemies. 

Fired Up!

There are two playable biomes right now, as well as one that wasn’t available on the Switch and one displays the message ‘working in progress’. It’s difficult to be able to completely rate or review a game that isn’t full in its entirety, but important to note that it looks like new biomes may be added periodically for those that enjoy Flame Keeper. 

For now, the focus is on the two biomes. There’s one that represents more of a forest landscape, and the other more of a dessert. Each biome has three main levels, and each level has 3 lands. Except for the last level of each biome which is made up of four lands inclusive of a boss level.  

Interestingly, this won’t be filled with three or four lots of land to just dungeon crash through like your typical rogue-lite. The first two lands of each level will be the former, the third a tower defence. Instead of relighting the campfire, players must learn to defend it instead by absorbing their energy into smaller campfires dotted into three main roads that lead to portals. Each portal acts as an entry way for a tirade of enemies desperate to move towards the campfire and attack it. Each smaller campfire that is dotted along the track will generate some sort of defence that slows enemies down and damages them. Ranging from a helping hand on a balcony with ranged attacks, acid goop on the floor and spikes in the road, each of these defences have their own strengths. 

These levels were simultaneously my favourite to look forward to, but also filled me with anticipation and concern due to the shocking frame rate nearing the end of the level. Players must keep the campfire alight with health by the end of approximately four minutes, in which there is a timer above the campfire allowing you to keep track of how long you have left. 

I don’t think it was a coincidence that only once out of both biomes that I played (so in total 6 tower defence levels) I only completed one at the first attempt. For the rest of them, I died at least once, within the last 5 seconds. The frame rate was so god awful within the last 20 seconds, I might as well have blindfolded myself and button bashed to hope for the best. For most levels this is the last land. What is the point of a rogue-lite, in which you will need to restart from the first land, if it almost feels like absolute luck and chance in praying for a good frame rate. It almost defeats the notion that I’m getting better and stronger at the game as it is really based on luck by then. I will note however, this is the only time that the frame rate did drop – it just did it at a minimum of 9 times, and then however long it took me to crawl my way through it because it is buckling under its own performance, let alone mine. 

For the previous two levels, these work like most rogue-lite dungeon crawlers. You’ll be thrusted upon a randomly generated piece of land and you need to defeat enemies as well as serving the main aim of finding the lamps and draining your health to save the world. 

Burn Baby Burn

Visually the first biome is very akin to being deep in the forest. Barren trees, boxes and crates scattered around, and enemies that scour the land. Ignis can receive health by charging into tree’s in which small flickers of flame drop, destroying the environment or defeating enemies. 

Enemies come in the form of creepy crawlies or poisonous plants. From beetles, to witchettygrubs, spiders, scorpions, tentacles that burst through the ground and hedgehogs that are determined to roll you down. Flame Keepers’ enemies will become stronger and smarter as you work your way through the biome. Some enemies will aimlessly follow you around while others will target your location with poison, and even explode on impact injuring you. Enemies are pretty straight forward to defeat, in part due to the attack system. 

Ignis has a basic attack and a special move which can be found randomly upon defeating an enemy. Special moves can be triggered once every couple of minutes, and range from pushing back enemies, to melting patches of ground to lure enemies in. 

Shrooms will grow in the ground to be able to aid Ignis in some way, although these do also have a random chance of hurting you. The mushrooms can add a temporary boost to stats like movement speed, attack speed, or my personal favourite health regeneration. As Ignis, you always hope you are well prepared if you get health regeneration so you can rush back to the fireplace and put ever replacing health into the fire for the next 30 seconds. If you are really unlucky, you could get a minute of all your controls being inverted and your screen being saturated visually. So eat the shrooms at your own risk. Falling off the land will damage your health but doesn’t mean you start from the beginning. Yes, I stupidly eat shrooms in the middle of a heated battle and got the inverted effect, it happens to us all! 

Don’t Burn Out

Flame Keeper is a dynamic rogue-lite out on Switch and PC now. Ignis must sacrifice his life to restore the Eternal Flame. The Finger Guns review.

One thing I did notice about this rogue-lite is whilst it is punishing in some areas, it is not unforgiving as a whole. Should you lose all your health at any of the 3-4 lands, you will have the choice to go into the town to upgrade or restart the section. However, you can keep all the loot you gathered essentially meaning you can upgrade post death. In some rogue-lites you’ll lose a significant portion or even all of it on death. This does make Flame Keeper really accessible if you have never played a rogue-lite before and don’t want something that is going to kick your ass within 30 seconds and make you lose almost everything every time you die, such as Dead Cells. Even the boss battle almost mimics many other boss battles seen before. These are not high in difficulty and very manageable considering the genre. 

The loot you gather acts as currency back in the town. Seeds are gathered as a standard frequency and are dropped from all enemy types. There will be currency that is specifically needed for higher upgrades that are only available in a particular biome, this looks like little bone pieces, or acorns and can only be gathered if you can be bothered to open totems by bringing a rune to it from the other side of the map. At first there not too far apart, but within the second biome this will take that bit more effort and increase the risk of you dying. 

Upgrades can be for Ignis himself via his skill tree, the defence towers, or attaching runes to Ignis to allow him a higher percentage of different stats outcomes, such as a higher % to dodge. The higher the upgrade, the more currency is needed, adding to the replayability. Ignis’s upgrades can include a slam move, a heavy punch move, being able to dash and damage other enemies and other things. These are probably the most helpful upgrades of the whole game and when dying I felt almost unstoppable the next time I would put into an upgrade and re-enter the biome. 

The art style is incredibly appealing at first, I love the look of characters, the brightness of the visuals of fire, the glows of enemies, the environments. It all looks very cool and slick. I do think between biomes I would have welcomed much more of a change up of enemy style. Instead of beetles there are now scorpions, but the underground grubs remained. If you’re playing something over and over again, you need variety and in the end those bugs just got very boring. Although in the later levels they do mix this up considerably in each biome which is appreciated. It would be nice to see big differences within the next few biomes, whatever the overarching look may be. It’d pay dividends to move away from similar enemies, such as the grubs from the ground. 

When playing a rogue-lite you have to place yourself into a different mindset, in that dying is not always a bad thing. It is a necessity of the play. It’s so teasing, like I said, dying many times within seconds was not fun, but it kept me coming back for more like a dopamine junkie. Although the game is not complete, the two biomes do offer both challenge and replayability. The village of upgrades becomes more built as you succeed through your levels and so it becomes more satisfying to complete the game for more than one reason. 

I had a good time with what I played and I can see myself returning once further content is added. This will keep anyone going for a good few hours if they can’t commit to a 20 plus hour roguelite. It’s also adorable, and full of beautiful colour iridescence . So who doesn’t want that? 

Flame Keeper is a truly accessible rogue-lite for anyone new to the genre, or someone who does not want an unforgiving time. Whilst currently incomplete and with some technical issues, Flame Keeper is fun with visually appealing details and offers an addictive gameplay loop.

Flame Keeper is available now on Nintendo Switch (Review Platform) and PC via Steam

Developer: Kautki Games

Publisher: Untold Tales

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.

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