Flame Keeper by Kautki Cave
Shadow monsters have invaded a peaceful land, stealing the Eternal Flame from the fox-like animals who protect it and causing sadness and strife across the land. Without hesitation, our protagonist – the titular Flame Keeper – shows up to defend the land and put a stop to the shadow monsters.
Fuel for the Fire
Flame Keeper plays much like your standard, small-level-based Rogue-like. The goal of each area is to charge a bonfire to teleport to the next area. It sounds easy but requires exploration and plenty of combat. Charging the bonfire requires collecting lamps and returning them to the bonfire. It also requires using flame energy collected from defeated enemies.
Flame energy is an essential resource in this game. Not only is it used to unlock lamps and chests, but it also is used as health. Essentially the game becomes kind of a resource management game in a small way.
On top of managing this resource, there’s a lot of combat to attend to. Each area has many enemies that need to be dispatched. Thankfully, the game features snappy and responsive combat. There is a dodge as well as abilities and buffs to make things interesting. It is satisfying to defeat enemies, even if it’s not perfect and combat does start to feel repetitive.
The hub area of the game features stations where the player can acquire combat abilities, buy upgrades, and use acorns to upgrade the stations within the hub area itself. Since this version of Flame Keeper is only a preview, many of the combat upgrades are locked, so I was unable to try them out, but from what I could tell, the upgrades could potentially make the combat feel more fun.
Combat also feels repetitive because each area has respawning enemies. This is a double-edged sword. Without respawning enemies, they wouldn’t drop flame orbs, which refill flame energy, which would make it a finite resource, making the game way more difficult. Thankfully, the game has plenty of enemies, making the game feel less frustrating – I always felt like I had plenty of flame orbs to complete each area – but the downside is that since it’s so combat-heavy, its lack of variety makes for some bland moments.
The plentiful flame orbs still don’t necessarily make the game easy. I still had many close calls thanks to enemies that would explode upon death and situations where many enemies surrounded me. I felt like it was challenging enough without being as unforgiving as some other Rogue-likes.
A nice variety of enemies also keeps things interesting: an enemy worm that stalks from underground only to burst out of the ground to attack, enemies that throw mortar-style projectiles, and giant tick creatures that hang from trees that can poison and slow your movement. There is just enough here to make combat feel like a little more than just thoughtlessly pressing the attack button. Dodging, jumping, and utilizing skills are imperative for success.
Is This Burning an Eternal Flame?
The game is fairly linear, but levels are randomly generated each time, so not everything is in the same place. I will say that as far as level design, there isn’t a whole lot to discover. Each level in its biome has the same feel to it. Each has a chest containing valuable upgrade materials. Other than that, there isn’t much to seek out, leaving levels with a familiar vibe throughout, albeit with some minor alterations.
There are some boss fights as well as simple tower defense levels, which are welcome additions to keep things interesting.
The game has a nice 3D polygon look. Its art style and character design remind me of a Rayman game viewed through Tim Burton goggles. A muted color palette gives Flame Keeper such a Halloween game vibe! The villages are full of charming little fox-looking creatures. The protagonist has disembodied hands and feet to compliment its stubby frame. I really like the way the game looks overall. It gives off a children’s book aesthetic which I enjoy.
Ultimately, Flame Keeper will feel very familiar to fans of the genre. As someone who plays these games only once in a while, I did enjoy my time with this game. Even though it felt repetitive, the gameplay loop was enjoyable enough to keep me engaged. All of its other elements are executed well and on par with similar games in its genre. Check Flame Keeper out if you’re itching for a new action Rogue-like. I know I’ll be curious to see how the full game turns out.
Flame Keeper will be available via the Nintendo Game Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, and Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Flame Keeper below: