Despite not being a fan of Metroidvania style games the basic plot for Dark Flame was enough to make me at least interested in seeing exactly how the game played out. Thankfully, they provided a demo so that those like me who are on the fence about backing the Kickstarter can get a feel for what to expect once the game releases. Before I go any further I will say one thing. I really suck at playing action platformers these days.
So, the demo for Dark Flame covers none of the plot points. Which is fine as the story had already grabbed my attention. It drops you in the middle of the action and honestly I had no clue how to steer my little crusader dude around and how to attack with him. I will also admit that I had no clue that everything was keyboard only. Once I got the hang of the controls, though, it was a somewhat enjoyable experience. For a game in a genre that I haven’t played in two decades, at least.
Okay, so being as rusty as I am with this type of game I couldn’t get very far. Maybe a half dozen screens or so before I finally gave up. I died so many times they could have buried me in my own cemetery, but being the trooper that I am I trudged on to try to get as full of an experience as I could. Thankfully, when you die you don’t lose everything that you’ve gained thus far. Except for maybe your dignity. You do keep all the experience and weapons that you’ve accumulated, so it’s not quite as unforgiving as I had feared.
You do, however, always respawn at the very beginning of the level when you perish. At least in the demo. I have no clue how it will play out in the final game but it would be nice to see checkpoints where you don’t have to wade through the same groups of enemies every time. At least you don’t have to take down each and every boss every time as even just getting killed by them you’ll clear that room. You do, however, have to go hack-and-slash your way through each set of minions every time. At least they give you points towards leveling up each time.
Dark Flame is most certainly an unforgiving game, particularly if you’re as bad at Metroidvanias as I am. Even after leveling up my skills to halfway decent levels I still kept getting sent back to the beginning more often than I’d care to admit. That said, though, with some improvements to the play mechanics even I’d be able to find something beyond the plot to enjoy.
As it is currently right now I’ll have to pass on backing the campaign. It’s far from horrible, and I did end up playing the demo for about an hour. Because I just had to see what was beyond the next screen. And to see if I could make it past the gauntlet. It just wasn’t enough to keep my interest in the long run, though. Your mileage may vary.