The third margin of the river.
Years ago, survival games were one of the most popular genres. Although not as common these days, there’s still plenty of room for them in the Switch’s library and The Flame in the Flood comes to fill this gap, and brings with a unique experience, if imperfect.
The introduction to The Flame in the Flood sets a sombre tone. You see a dog take a bag from a dead corpse and it delivers the item to a young lady, named Scout. She finds a working radio within the bag and it becomes her only hope of encountering a safe place, as you learn during your adventure that something very bad happened and you must traverse down the big river that flooded the country. Then, using an improvised raft to go from pier to pier, you scavenge items needed for survival and to help deal with the many things that may cause your demise, from poisonous food to wild wolves.
Scout’s most basic survival concerns come in the form of four different meters: food, water, warmth and sleep. Most of the time you’ll struggle to maintain each of these meters at the higher end, so you must find and stock items within your inventory such as bottles of clean water, and any type of edible nourishment you may find on your way. As you go down the river, you may also see small icons to the different places you may stop at. Some of them will give you a hint about whether you’ll be able to find some shelter to rest, or more specific stuff, such as a marina in which you can upgrade your raft, or an urban territory, with workbenches to help you craft better equipment.
Along with your survival needs, crafting and inventory management also takes a huge importance in The Flame in the Flood. Scout, her dog and the raft have individual inventories, and your crafting menu will only allow you to craft items with what you have in range. Due to that, you must think carefully about what you’ll bring to the land. Workbenches and campfires will allow you to craft and cook different things, but you can’t use on them any items that have been left on the raft. Here lies one of the few problems of The Flame in the Flood: you’ll spend most your time within menus, moving things around.
On the other hand, when you’re walking through the mainland, or going down the river with your raft, you’ll enjoy one of the most unique and impressive art styles on the Switch. The Flame in the Flood has a 3D style that shines with charisma. Scout, her dog and other wild animals have all a cartoonish appearance that resembles something straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Add to that an original soundtrack with many country rock songs, which blends too well with the atmosphere of the countryside.
The Flame in the Flood doesn’t have much when it comes to a proper narrative, as the river and places you stop at are all randomly generated. It adds a rogue-like feel to the game, but, if you die, you can always go back to your last checkpoint. That said, it is still a very brutal survival game. If you’re up to the challenge, then you may be rewarded with a poignant subtle adventure. If you manage to avoid finding the bottom of the river, that is.