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Blue Fire

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Graffiti Games
Developer: Robi Studios
Release Date: Feb. 4, 2021

About Lauren "Feffy" Hall

I am a freelance writer based in Canada, where it's too cold to go outside; therefore, we play a lot of video games. I'm an expert zombie slayer (the virtual kind), amateur archer (for actual zombie slaying and general apocalypse purposes - it could happen), and a work-in-progress wife and mother (IRL). My claim to fame: I completed the original MYST without looking up cheats. It took several years. What other accomplishments does one need in life?


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PC Review - 'Blue Fire'

by Lauren "Feffy" Hall on April 2, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Experience a mysterious, beautiful forgotten kingdom while you slash and platform your way through enemies in this 3D action adventure.

Buy Blue Fire

Give me Dark Souls, but make it cute! Blue Fire, the 3D platformer by ROBI, is a delight to the senses with its colorful worlds, dreamy music, and adorable warrior-ninja-guy who flits and flutters from platform to platform like a cute little butterfly. That's about the only way your warrior resembles a butterfly, though, as he leaps over great heights and dashes along walls and over obstacles with confidence and agility, while he mercilessly slices bad guys with his dual swords.

While Blue Fire can easily get its hooks into you and dare you to play for hours on end despite falling down the same pit 78,649 times in a row, all of the repetitive backtracking can get tiresome. If precise movement and careful control are something you excel at, Blue Fire might be the game for you.

Blue Fire, which seems to pull inspiration from Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda, is a beautiful and extremely frustrating 3D platformer. It's beautiful in that the Zen-like artwork, adorable characters and animations, and instrumental soundtrack all come together to create a serene world that is yours to explore. The incredible amount of backtracking may be frustrating if you're not a seasoned 3D platformer gamer.

My first thought when I moved my little ninja for the first time and swiveled my camera smoothly around the room was that this was going to be a very fun game to play. The character movement is not only well executed, but it's also positively delightful as you move around effortlessly, zooming around with your swords that are no match for most of the enemies you encounter. You feel light as a feather; you feel powerful and agile. You feel as though this game will be a breeze.

It is not — for an inexperienced platformer like me.

The goal of the game is relatively simple and open-ended; like many adventure games, there are locked doors, and you need to find keys to open them. Finding these keys involves finding and opening chests; opening them is easy but finding them and reaching them is considerably tougher.

First and foremost, Blue Fire is a 3D platformer, so the main elements of play involve an awful lot of hopping gracefully from platform to platform. This can make you feel like a pro one minute and a total loser the next. I spent several hours platforming like an expert, when suddenly, I hit a literal and metaphorical wall, where all I had to do was climb a ladder and hop across to a platform on the other side, and I couldn't get it done. This seemed so easy, but I struggled to stay on the ladder for several attempts, my jittery fingers tapping the wrong keys at the worst times.

This is common for seasoned platform players, and it's a good indication that you need to give your brain and fingers a break. One of the issues with platform games is the careful, calculated jumping that is often necessary to clear a zone because after a while, your brain and your fingers don't cooperate anymore. Frustration sets in, and even ladders become a challenge.

This brings me to my main issue with Blue Fire: the incessant backtracking when you hit that wall. In the voids, which are essentially mini platforming dungeons where you are rewarded after successfully hopping from the beginning to the end of the platform chain, when you fail — and you will fail — you are returned to the very beginning of the void. In platformers, this isn't uncommon, but it's very disheartening to repeat the same content over and over again.

While this is an extremely frustrating and repetitive setback, it's also entirely the player's fault because the platforming elements are very well done in Blue Fire. They are challenging but doable. If you can't progress, it's probably a matter of not trying hard enough or not perfecting your skill in a particular move or jump. The game offers multiple opportunities to improve, experiment, and learn. When you succeed and reach the end of the void, you will feel like a platforming genius.

When you're not in the voids and you're traveling between dungeons and boss fights, there are fire shrines that you can activate with the currency collected by smashing boxes, barrels, and enemies. These shrines are extremely welcome save points, but they also allow you to rest to restores life and mana. At these shrines, you can also change your spirits menu, which is basically a talent tree that affects your gameplay. The more spirits you have, the more movement boosts and abilities you have and the easier the game will become.

There are also vendors that offer a variety of items for different types of currency, including vendors peppered through the vast biome that upgrade your emotes. Emotes seem frivolous at first, but using the correct emote on the appropriate indicator can unlock hidden chests, so don't discount them as pointless!

While the dungeons and voids are the bread and butter of the game, there's something to be said for the Prince of Persia-style platforming and obstacles, like buzzsaws, moving platforms over pools of death, and deadly spikes. As you learn more special moves, like wall-running and double-jumps, the obstacles become less obtrusive, but they're worth mentioning because they affect the decisions you make as you play.

Admittedly, combat is a tad clumsy. In theory, you can dash to your opponent, but sometimes you're not close enough, so you dash awkwardly to a few feet in front of them, which can be off-putting. There's also a very real risk of falling to your death to avoid hits or being unceremoniously knocked off ledges as you battle enemies. You can also die quickly, since your little ninja is relatively squishy.

When you die, you lose your currency, and much like other games, such as Dark Souls, you have an opportunity to return to the spot you died to retrieve the loot — but this is often harder than it seems. It's unfortunate that if you can't retrieve your orbs after you died, you likely won't have enough to activate your next fire shrine, which can lead to yet more backtracking and, unfortunately, grinding for currency by smashing things.

This is less fun than it sounds.

There is also even more backtracking as you learn new moves, such as wall-running or double-jumps, which allow you to return to previous areas and hop to a platform that you were not able to reach earlier. This takes an awful lot of running back and forth, and that travel time is pretty boring because the only thing that occupies you is respawns and smashing more objects for currency. There is no map, either, so it's difficult to remember the location of everything in a large, confusing world. You'll still do it, though, as either your curiosity will get the best of you or you will hit a wall in terms of content, forcing you to return to areas that you couldn't reach before.

As you continue to progress, the tough areas that previously required a series of calculated jumps will become trivial; you are practically a superhero toward the end of the game. That's one of the best things about Blue Fire: It's highly addicting to fly around and rebound off walls and obstacles.

The dungeons in Blue Fire would please any Zelda fan, as would the voids for devoted platformers. The boss fights are tough, and it's entertaining to navigate the world as you stop to think about how to get from platform A to platform B. The backtracking and repeated content is soul-crushing, though, and it made me want to stop playing multiple times during my playthrough. Even a seasoned platformer would have to go back several times, as some areas are impossible to reach until you unlock skills later in the game, so no one is immune to this downside of Blue Fire.

Blue Fire is a fun and surprisingly engaging game, and fans of the 3D platforming genre will enjoy the challenges it provides. Adventure and open-world exploration fans, on the other hand, might not find the repetition that endearing. If all you want is to hop and dash around, smash objects, and swing your ridiculously oversized swords, Blue Fire is worth a try.

Score: 6.9/10

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