Blue Fire (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 07.06.2022

Review for Blue Fire on Nintendo Switch

Originally shown off almost a year ago at a Nintendo Direct in March, Blue Fire certainly caught the eye and left many eager to get their hands on it in the Summer. Alas, like many big releases of 2020, things were delayed. It's funny to look back on this Direct in particular, and notice just how many games announced are still yet to appear. A positive from the delay has been more platforms arriving, with now Xbox One, PS4, and PC all receiving the title, though it still lands first on Switch. The trailer at the Direct showcased a diminutive, masked warrior dashing around the screen like a fury, double-jumping through deadly obstacles, and slashing against towering, shadowy eldritch terrors. With murmurs of Zelda and Souls inspirations, hype was high. Now that it's here, does it deliver on the potential glimpsed, or whether following the long delays, this one drops off the map, forgotten by all those who were originally so excited for it?

Awakening within a ruined, shadowy, citadel, the hero is a chibi, shadowy, dual-wielding, masked, and hooded warrior, who is often referred to as both of Fire and Shadow. These are the two opposing forces in this world of Penumbra. The world now covered in a shadow, following the fall of the great gods of fire that once protected it. The hero sets out across this world, on a quest to grow in power and restore what has been lost.

The story itself is glimpsed only in speaking with the few remaining inhabitants scattered across the world - it's a nice narrative touch, but getting around in this world proves difficult right from the start. The heart of the game is in the 3D platforming, and it's utterly unforgiving. To begin, the character has a jump and a dash. Holding the jump button longer provides a higher jump, holding the dash button longer providing a further dash. Knowing precisely when to release those buttons to cut short and land just where needed is essential.

Screenshot for Blue Fire on Nintendo Switch

There are plenty of platformers out there that offer up quick deaths for the smallest misstep, but there's a fine line between challenging and cheap. Blue Fire tries to double-jump across a gap and land on this line, and skids off the line falling to another game over. It's particularly frustrating. The platforming sequences are often skilfully designed and thought-out, and watching highlights of run-throughs will show a smooth and seamless experience. Sad to say, it doesn't feel that way. The feel of the platforming is just off, the character feeling too weightless, a touch of the analogue sending him careening off the edge. It's especially disappointing seeing the reality of the experience compared to the highlights in trailers.

That in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. Punishing platformers are almost a genre of their own, and there are plenty of masochists out there eager for the punishment - but here, the deaths feel regularly unfair. The problem with this is that they are not consequence-free. There's a currency to collect called Ore that is used for purchasing everything, from emotes to equipment, spirits for special abilities, and, most importantly... save/respawn points. In navigating through the realms of Penumbra, there are statues placed here and there that can be activated by spending this Ore. A death results in the loss of it. Like many of its contemporaries, it can be recovered by returning to the location of death, and touching the ghostly remains that are left behind. More often than not, though Ore is effectively lost, requiring farming of more. Lots more smashing pots to drum the currency back up once again.

Screenshot for Blue Fire on Nintendo Switch

It's not just platforming threatening a regular death, there are a host of beasties throughout each area, but the majority of which are easily dealt with. The combat fundamentals are another area of concern. Videos show locking on, circling, dodging, blocking, and parrying. In reality, pretty much everything can be taken apart by sprinting up and mashing the attack button repeatedly. Enemy difficulty only ever really comes on harder modes, including the 'Brutal' mode unlocked upon completion where enemy attacks can one-hit far too quickly, or in sections where precise jumping is necessary and flying enemies remain just out of reach, launching locked-on attacks.

As the game progresses things improve considerably. All those previous frustrations start to lessen. The fundamental issues are less and less noticeable. This is mostly connected to age-old, familiar abilities becoming unlocked, and that's noticeable at around the point after the second dungeon. After a few spirits are unlocked and equipped, shorty starts feeling a little stronger, and the combination of a double-jump and a wall run/jump make the deaths that feel undeserved less regular.

Screenshot for Blue Fire on Nintendo Switch

It's a shame, though that at the same point, the limitation on the environments is understood. The five Gods are regularly mentioned, and it seems each will have its own dedicated temple. Alas no. After the first two temples, the other three are plonked into existing areas. Potentially the biggest disappointment of the whole thing. The areas are decent enough, and the new locations within them require sufficiently tricky traversal to reach, but backtracking is backtracking, and it would have been nice to see new areas.

Another element that improves as the game progresses is in the boss battles. What starts out with timing three simple jumps and whacking Audrey 2, progresses into exhilarating experiences. Battles that require parkour skills to duck and dash through traps and environmental hazards, while smashing into the towering monstrosity blocking the path.

This same sort of highlight is showcased in the 'Void' sections; platforming-puzzle sections that are a huge high-point of the title. Stand-alone sections that can be entered through special portals, wherein a series of obstacles have to be overcome, collecting special currency before reaching the way out. Best of all, the items collected here remain collected even after Death. This more forgiving experience making the challenge within far more enjoyable. The Void sections each reward one extra heart to the hero's life bar upon completion, making it worth giving each an attempt upon discovering them, regardless of their difficulty level.

Screenshot for Blue Fire on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There's a slow burn to this fire, but it's certainly worth waiting for it to catch and see the sparks. Blue Fire offers up a challenging, and dynamic 3D platforming experience that is sure to make it a cult hit with those brave enough to persevere through the frustrating opening - but 'cult' it will remain, with little chance of garnering attention from wider audiences, sadly, as there are just too many issues to elevate this to something more. The recycling of areas in that second half combined with the flimsy fundamentals stops this from becoming a classic.

Developer

Robi

Publisher

Graffiti Games

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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