Fire on PC
The point and click adventure genre is about as old as mouse-input computers. Something about exploring a world, such as the prehistoric landscape of Daedalic Entertainment’s Fire, by simply clicking and seeing what happens has been a mainstay of the video game industry for as long as I can remember. While sometimes it’s a cheap, gimmicky style that ends up reducing otherwise inventive games to hours-long, trial-and-error sessions, games that get this genre right make the style one that’s not likely to die off anytime soon. While more mechanically complex genres keep most gamers entertained, these simple adventures can be a great gateway or relaxing diversion, provided they’re well-made enough to keep players interested. So, where does Fire fall in this spectrum?
Fire follows the adventures of a simple-minded caveman named Ungh. After his inattentive mistakes leave the village fire a smoking pit of uselessness, Ungh finds himself thrown out to the wilds in search of more of this mystical power that is central to the tribe’s survival. Players will explore a wide variety of colorfully-animated areas, solving complicated puzzles, and finding ways past dangerous creatures and devious traps as they lead Ungh on his journey. Not the brightest of specimens, even for his pre-human ancestry, Ungh has a pretty tough time, and players will likely find themselves straining to put together each piece of the puzzles laid out by each of the game’s many levels. The goal in each level is to find, and free, a magical firefly that opens a portal into the next area.
The early levels of Fire do a good job of setting up the story, such as it is. While the game doesn’t feature dialogue of any sort, the characters are vividly expressive and the animation is pretty smooth. The art style is consistent across the ten regions of Ungh’s stone-age world, and an ambient soundtrack lends itself well to the tempo of the game. The early going isn’t too rough, and the game helps players along as they learn the ropes of guiding our hapless hero through the wilderness. While there are occasional moments of frustration when a puzzle’s solution isn’t evident, I didn’t encounter too many instances where progress seemed outright impossible while I searched for new angles from which to approach the problem. This balance is one of the most important parts of the point and click adventure game, so having Daedalic seem to fit right into the sweet spot of not-too-tough, not-too-easy is a real treat for fans of the genre.
Another problem that can plague the point and click genre is monotony. Fire mostly avoids this, keeping each new area full of fresh puzzles, many linked across the several screens that comprise each area. While early levels essentially reward finding a few interactions to move forward, Fire steps up the challenge with a wide variety of puzzle types and solutions, including a musical matching game, complex multi-stage structures, and even a maze that, while not blocking Ungh, forces players to carefully guide their cursor through or have it destroyed and returned to the starting position. The mix of unique and creative problem-solving that the game puts together overall makes winning feel rewarding, and keeps the content fresh. If players are struggling, the middle mouse button or space bar can be used to highlight all “interactive” points on the screen.
I suppose the best way to wrap up Fire is to say that it’s a good, well-made point and click adventure. While this genre isn’t what everyone is looking for in their games, fans of the style definitely have reason to keep an eye on it. A sleek art style and smooth, vibrant animations come together with solid, approachable gameplay that presents a reasonable challenge. Daedalic is asking for $9.99 for the game on Steam, which is likely a fair price for the content, design quality, and variety of puzzles. While some of the early levels get a bit repetitive, it’s largely to get players accustomed to the game’s world and rules before building into more difficult territory. If you’re on the fence about it, I’d recommend waiting for the inevitable sale, but don’t pass it up if you’ve been looking for a new, creative adventure game.