Blue Fire isn’t doing anything new, and that’s OK.
During my 25 hours with the debut title from Robi Studios, I thought, “Hey, this is a lot like The Wind Waker,” and, “Hey, this is a lot like Dark Souls,” and, “Hey, this is a lot like Super Mario Sunshine,” and I was correct each time. Derivativeness notwithstanding, Blue Fire is one more data point in a welcome recent trend: a full-fledged, big, 3D platformer from an indie studio that also manages to feel great to play.
Its interconnected world, Penumbra, is terrific to explore. I loved using my double jump, dash, and wall-run to navigate its ominous spaces. All of your adventures happen within a castle floating in the sky, and while most of this self-contained world is delightfully dark, the spots of colour – like the verdant Stoneheart City and the lava lakes of Firefall River – keep it visually interesting. Each new area is an exciting discovery.
Combat isn’t super-deep, and mostly requires locking on to your enemies and wailing on them with the same attack until they die. You also have a ranged energy shot, but many bosses are immune, so you won’t want to rely on it when things get tough. Despite the limitations of combat options, your character’s jump-focused moveset makes fights energetic and acrobatic. Boss encounters can occasionally be a pain point, but are mostly good fun.
Blue Fire has a strange structure, though, that hurts its momentum somewhat in the later game. The early hours pack in plenty of exploration and a few Zelda-style dungeons, which I loved solving. But the later game mostly finds you searching through areas you’ve already visited in search of critical path boss battles. Exploration is still rewarding, though, with side content hidden away throughout Penumbra that makes backtracking worthwhile.
Though I’ve rolled credits, Blue Fire’s world still has plenty of secrets to find. It may not be doing anything new, but it offers a world that’s well worth exploring as well as, like the name implies, one that’s comfortingly warm.
Blue Fire has some fantastically tough platforming challenges that make full use of the game’s expansive moveset. These ‘Void Challenges’ are optional, so you can walk away from any that give you too much trouble. They grant health upgrades, though, so you’re rewarded for mastering the platforming.
Blue Fire isn’t the least bit original, but – occasionally annoying reliance on backtracking, aside – it is a terrific pastiche of other, more groundbreaking games.
Genre: 3D action-platformer Format: PC (tested) / Switch | Developer: Robi Studios | Publisher: Graffiti Games | Price: £15.49 | Release: Out now