A great overall look gets this off to a hot start, but a little too much repetition and some early struggles hold it back a bit
Oh, the games where you feel a bit torn overall, trapped between elements you like and aspects that don’t feel quite developed enough. This is squarely where I’ve landed with Flame Keeper, and though I’d say right now its light is being diminished a bit the great news is that with some tweaks I can see it being a much better experience. Starting with the positives there’s no doubt that this game, even on the humble Switch, is a looker and generally performs well (though it can hitch when activating some elements). From there it’s easy to compliment the responsiveness of your dash and attacks. At the very start it’s easy to feel good about the experience. However, it didn’t take too terribly long to have some concerns. While combat flows well on the whole it didn’t end up feeling terribly rewarding, with too many scuffles falling into the same patterns over and over again. I’m not sure whether more enemy diversity, or the composition of the mobs being more varied, would help more… but perhaps a bit of both. My main issue is with how things go down early on in particular with the tower defense type phases. It just feels like you’re dropped into things, without much context or understanding of what you should do. Even when you’ve got a grip on that though more often than not I’d be defeated without really knowing what happened. Even with strong core defenses it felt like being inattentive just for some moments would blow everything up. Roguelikes are supposed to be tough, and bring on the challenge, but I also think it can be critical to give people a win or two to get a taste of how things should be. Once you begin down your meta upgrade path things obviously get to be more manageable, just more than usual how I was failing in Flame Keeper didn’t feel under my control, which was frustrating for the wrong reasons.
Justin Nation, Score: