Blue Fire (Switch) Review
I always enjoy checking out a good platformer, even better if they offer various ways to jump, wall run and air dash my way around the world. Blue Fire has arrived, and it turns out it does precisely this. Not only is it a platformer, but it has a bit of hack and slash too. While we wait for Silksong, there is room for another challenging platformer. Can Blue Fire light up our world?
Waking up in Penumbra, a castle covered in deadly corruption, it’s up to you to save the world. Many dangers await you, but should you fail, don’t worry! You’ll rise again to fight another day. Blue Fire is a 3D platformer with a heap of combat too. The main focus is on traversal, helping you get around Penumbra and taking on challenge areas called Voids. Completing these Void challenges is vital for extending your amount of hearts.
You’ll also find Zelda-like dungeons where you can Z-target some enemies and hack and slash away. You’ll find items that upgrade your abilities and help you to travel through the world.
From the beginning, you’re given a dash move; combine it with the jump button you’ll be dashing across many pits and deadly liquids…and water. As you progress, you’ll get a double jump and wall-running, amongst others. Initially, the world is cumbersome to move around in while you’re stuck with a leap and a dash, but the game opens up so much more the easier you can get around Penumbra.
Earlier in the game, while your powers are limited and there are many locked off areas along your path, it’s a more challenging experience. Combat begins as less desirable given how vulnerable you are, with not much to fight back with. It doesn’t too take long before you’re picking up a shield bubble and finding more powerful blades to make fights shorter. Though even as I got stronger, I still preferred the platforming over the combat. Fighting anywhere other than in a plain boring old room includes lots of unnecessary falls.
You also find Spirits to equip and enhance your abilities even further and a cast of characters you can interact with for purchasing upgrades and abilities. Prepare to need a lot of ore for buying upgrades and items; it’s also the stuff you also need to unlock shrines for creating save points. I wouldn’t have had an issue with this if it wasn’t for the fact sometimes, when you’re killed, you can’t recover that big stash of ore you’d been saving up. You’re meant to have a spirit appear where you died that you can restore your lost ore, but the spirit doesn’t always appear. I’ve lost some eye-watering amounts of ore this way, genuinely setting me back at least an hour.
While Blue Fire is its own game, it’s hard not to think of Hollow Knight 3D with a dash of Zelda and Dark Souls. The Hollow Knight influence is where the platforming shines. The more you unlock and can move around, the better it gets. The Zelda-like dungeons and Z-targeting also adds to the game. The Dark Souls elements creep through in its more punishing moments – the game not always communicating clearly if you need an ability to progress, or that shrines and healing items in place of bonfires and Estus flasks. I enjoyed Blue Fire most when it was just letting me jump and dash around some challenging obstacles, exploring the world and finally finding a place to save in new areas.
If you die, you get sent back to the last checkpoint you unlocked, and you have to get back to your spirit/ghost left where you died to recover your cash. You’ll be wanting it back because new shrines/checkpoints cost cash to activate, or maybe you’d like to buy some emotes…for some reason. The paid checkpointing is a pain because if you can’t afford it you’ll be sent even further back to the checkpoint before that.
On the Switch, I found that the frame rate could drop at some pretty unhelpful times. Some unhelpful camera angles especially hampered earlier platforming. The Void challenges already don’t communicate if you have the necessary ability to get through. Without checkpoints within these areas, it makes trying to work out if you can make a jump difficult – if it’s a bad angle or if you can’t make it yet all the more tedious. It’s not helped by the inconsistent ledge grabbing, letting you fall to your death more often than not. For all the platforming demands Blue Fire asks of you, it isn’t the best when it asks for pinpoint precision jumping and landing from you on some of the smallest ledges around.
The biggest issue I came across was the game crashing on me. It wasn’t until I was a few hours in that I wound up losing chunks of time. Given how far you have to travel when you’re initially finding your way around the world and needing to unlock shrine/save points, it can be demoralising. If it wasn’t for the sake of review, I probably would have walked away from the game for a while after some of the crashes I encountered.
Blue Fire is a real mixed bag. For all of the enjoyable platforming, there is the annoying combat. For all of the exploration, as you dash and jump around Penumbra, you can easily lose a chunk of time through game crashes. Despite all of the issues that frustrated me, I still really enjoyed the game when it would let me. If you’re willing to risk the game crashing now and then, Blue Fire happens to be quite the platformer.
Update: The game’s developers say there is a patch coming this week for the game, which should resolve some of the hard crashes.
+ A challenging platformer
+ Void challenges
- Game crashes a little too much
- Combat isn’t as enjoyable as the platforming