Soundbite review: Yes, I recommend it. Check out Flame Over on Steam!
Flame over describes itself as a "firefight rogue-like game." It isn't really, and it isn't a dungeon crawler either - not precisely. What it is is a DAMN fine bit of fun, and amazingly addictive for how simple the basic premise is. I bought this one on a lark, I paid I believe 12 Euro and instantly regretted it. However, after a trip to the forums and a kind person who explained to me stuff THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE TUTORIAL, I realised how clever the game actually is. In fact, let me tell you about it:
You are Blaze Carruthers, firefighting hero and a man with one might moustache. A fire has broken out at Infernal Industries because God felt ironic that day. Because the City of London has one solitary firefight, it is up to YOU to put out the fire, save everybody and be the hero your moustache predestined you to be. You're tasked with making your way through 16 floors of the building which get larger as you go up, in defiance of how buildings actually work. Each floor is semi-randomly generated and requires you to put out all the fires before you can proceed. Succeed or die, you make progress either way. But don't run out of time!
That's about all there is to it. Flame Over is a PS Vita port to Steam, so you can't expect that much complexity. For what it's worth, the port works just fine.
Graphics and Design:
Flame Over is a 3D top-down "hose-em-up" which employs a very cartoony, stylised art style. Every character is a chibi with a small body and a big head, the environments are bright and colourful with oversized and rounded environment props. The game's not a graphical powerhouse, let's get that out of the way. It can probably run on a potato and it looks the part. However, the cartoony aesthetic does a great job of masking the low-resolution textures and blocky models, plus the all-things-considered very good fire effects - it IS a firefighting game - make it a decent looker overall.
Special mention has to go to the game's music, and not always in a good way. The game's 16 floors are split into 4 groups of 4. Every group has a single constant music loop which never, ever ends and restarts at the beginning of the next floor. The music is pretty good, to be honest - catchy, funky and kind of cool at times. But it's VERY repetitive. I had dreams about that music... It also starts VERY LOUD! I'd suggest cutting the music volume by half at least as soon as you start, as you can't access the options menu from in-game.
Long story short, the game looks pretty good and the music is good but will drill its way into your skull.
Story and Characters:
There's not much of either, really. The game's story - really, its excuse to put you in a burning building - is literally what I put in the introduction - you're a firefighter, a building is on fire, go put it out and don't die. The end.
There ARE a few distinct characters, however. Once again, there's Blaze Corruthers, chibi firefighting hero and "you." There's also Miss Ion, a lady with a horrible pun for a name. She shows up every other floor to give you busywork missions (Get it? Miss-Ion? Mission? Shoot me now...) in return for two minutes on the clock and an "upgrade token" that I'll talk about in gameplay. I don't know if it's always the same person or the building is just full of women with the same name. Finally, there's the Grim Reaper. If you run out of a time, death itself will show up and chase you, killing you with a touch, ala Bubble Bobble. And, uh... That's about it, really.
Gameplay and Systems:
Basically, Flame Over is a twin stick shooter, for those who've run into those. You control your character with the keyboard and aim his "guns" with the mouse. There are no enemies in the game, so instead Blaze is expected to "shoot" at fires. He's equipped with two primary weapons - a water hose and a fire extinguisher. The hose fires a long, narrow cone to extinguish fires and wet the ground, while the extinguisher fires what looks like dry powder in a short, wide cone, but does not make anything wet. Your basic gameplay, then, is learning to combine the extinguisher and the hose to both put out fires and prevent then from spreading back across areas you've extinguished. It's tricker than I'm making it out to be, especially considering all the other dangers you're facing.
Fire in Flame Over is a sinister thing. Practically everything can catch fire, including the floor. Every few seconds, one item that's on fire will shoot some variety of fireball towards Blaze. These fireballs WILL set terrain on fire if it's not wet, and this can happen frighteningly quickly. These fireballs can also kill people in one hit if you're not careful. Blaze can stop these fireballs with both his hose and extinguisher, but it takes pretty quick reflexes to do so. Worse, there are "electical fires" indicated by black smoke coming out of electrical appliances. Those can't be put out with water AT ALL and need to be extinguished with the extinguisher. That, or turning out the power to the floor will do it.
Around the building, Blaze will meet a few important "things." The most important are people. They're trapped in rooms and must be escorted out. Watch out, because they CAN die, and pretty easily. Miss Ion is a version of this, but she can't be moved until her mission is accomplished. Any person saved by bringing him to the exit gives you 60 seconds on the clock. There are also cats to save - because firement are renowned for rescuing cats - which give you extra health when rescued. That's one of the very few ways to heal. I mentioned the power breaker box - that's also important as it removes all electrical fires (but not the lights). Finally, there's a vendor... Yes - a shopkeeper selling you items amid a burning building. I don't even, but he's there and he's VERY useful.
If you run out of time and the Reaper kills you, you lose ALL the progress you made on that particular run, both money and upgrade tokens. Supposedly you can find your ghost, but I never did. Whether you win or fail any other way (read: burn to death), you'll receive the money and upgrade tokens to earned in the run - money's earned from fighting fires. You can use this to apply permanent upgrades to Blaze, such as more resistance to fire, faster water refilling and so on. These make a MAJOR difference, so don't let the Reaper get you. Hop into a fire and commit suicide if you need to - anything to keep your loot. Your next run will be worth it.
Basically, that's about it - extinguish fires, save people, accomplish missions and try to not burn to death or run out of time. It's a simple but pretty fun game nevertheless.
Honestly? I'd say get Flame Over. It's fun, it's clever, it's pretty damn tough and well worth the 12 Euro (or your regional equivalent) that it costs. I've paid more for worse games. It might seem frustrating at first, or impossibly difficult. You'll definitely have trouble saving people and earning time, but stick with it and the game will reward you.
If you're looking for a unique experience, Flame Over is for you. Firefighting is so very rarely the subject of a game, even if this one is only superficially about it. If you're looking for a challenging but mostly fair experience, Flame over is definitely for you. The game WILL kick your ass the first few times, but you can tame it. I did, and I've only been playing it for a couple of days. Finally, if you're looking for value for your money, then 12 Euro is not a lot for this much replay value. Randomly generated maps (the same types of rooms, vastly different layout) and the different distribution of fire, people and mission items make every run unique. There's a lot of fun to be had with the content on hand.
However, if you're looking for a "serious" game, this isn't it. The game isn't particularly grindy - you can max out the progression system in one or two good runs. I did on literally my first day playing it after one runs to floor 9 of 16. The meat is in the gameplay, not the progression. Don't expect a game which takes itself seriously, either - the game's jokey and irreverent, despite the subject matter of people burning to death in a fire. You have holy water which heals people as you spray them and you heal by rescuing cats, for Pete's sake! Finally, give this one a miss if you're not into "difficult" games. Flame Over isn't a punishing game, granted - it's one of the easier "difficult" games out there - but it's still pretty unforgiving of mistakes.
I still say buy it and give it a try. It's not expensive, and it's pretty good.