Fire Tonight – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle game, point-and-click adventure
Developer: Reptoid Games
Publisher: Way Down Deep
Platform: Switch, PC
Tested on: Switch

Fire Tonight – Review

Site Score
7.1
Good: Clever puzzle mechanics
Bad: Way too short
User Score
0
(0 votes)
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Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

When we first saw Fire Tonight’s trailer, we were immediately enamored by the charming aesthetics and catchy music. Gameplay looked interesting too, and developer Reptoid Games had already proven their worth with 2018’s Fossil Hunters. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that we were eager to get our grubby mitts on Fire Tonight. Our expectations were understandably high, but would Fire Tonight be able to meet them? Read on to find out.

Story

Set in the 1990s, Fire Tonight tells the story of a young couple, the pragmatic Maya and the goofy Devin, who are separated by a massive fire spreading across the city. During the opening scenes, the fire causes the landline to go down, and with no cell phones or internet in sight -remember, this is the early ’90s- Maya decides to make the journey across town to be reunited with Devin. Meanwhile, Devin is tasked with staying put at his apartment, and is left dealing with the anxiety of waiting for Maya to arrive.

By putting Maya in the role of the hero, Fire Tonight puts a spin on the classic damsel in distress trope. Thanks to the excellent characterization of the pair, this doesn’t feel forced, although there are some elements in Fire Tonight’s narrative that require suspension of disbelief. For example, although fire is raging across the city, there isn’t a fireman in sight throughout the entirety of the game, and the metro line is still operating. Likewise, cops armed with flashlights that are patrolling the city are making wisecracks, undermining how serious the situation is. It’s a light-hearted take on a disaster story, and it only works because everything here is just incredibly charming.

Graphics

With a game set in the ’90s, you’d expect developer Reptoid Games to fully embrace the era-specific aesthetics, and for the most part, they do. The game’s neon-pink glow hides a plethora of small details that will put a smile on the face of anyone that grew up in the ’90s. Whether it’s the episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that is playing on Devin’s TV or the posters and billboards that litter the various locations, Fire Tonight *almost* feels like a time capsule. Almost, but not quite. For lack of a better word, Fire Tonight’s world is a bit too “clean” to feel like the real deal. The character designs themselves are rather plain and eschew the colorful fashion and wacky hairstyles of the early ‘90s (which ironically were a huge part of the look and feel of the aforementioned Fresh Prince) and we would’ve loved to have seen Reptoid Games take a few more risks with the game’s visuals.

That’s not to say that Fire Tonight’s visuals fall flat. On the contrary, the vibrant colors and character illustrations are fun to look at, and the comic book style cutscenes really work as well. It’s impressive to see a game that looks this good was crammed in a file that takes up less than 300 MB of your SD card (although we suspect the game’s length is partially responsible for the small file size). And; because the game isn’t visually demanding, there are no performance issues here either.

Sound

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Fire Tonight’s narrative puts some significance on its OST, as the cassette tapes that Devin keeps in his apartment are a key element of his relationship with Maya. Another musical element present is Maya’s walkman, which -as we’ll explain in the gameplay section- is key to navigating through some of the levels. As such, there is an emphasis on the OST that is rarely seen in other games, and Fire Tonight’s music captures the 90s vibe more accurately than its visuals. It’s a good thing that the music is so catchy, especially since there isn’t a whole lot else to Fire Tonight’s soundscape. There is no voice acting present and the sound effects are appropriate, although relegated to the bare essentials.

Gameplay

Throughout Fire Tonight’s eight levels, you’ll encounter two distinct forms of gameplay, with each protagonist offering a different experience. The meat of the game is in Maya’s levels, which offer top-down puzzle gameplay that is very reminiscent of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, albeit simplified. Meanwhile, Devin’s levels -which are much simpler- take on a point-and-click approach, which has you perform such lofty tasks as using a pencil to rewind a cassette tape. Devin’s levels are particularly short and won’t take more than a few minutes each to complete, and although Maya’s levels are more substantial, you’re still only getting about forty minutes worth of content for the entirety of the game.

It’s a shame; because the limited content you’re getting here is really good and the game was over all too soon. The gameplay mechanics that make up the puzzle levels are implemented in fun and clever ways, such as when you’re moving around dumpsters to create new pathways, or when you’re avoiding the beams of cops’ flashlights to sneak into alleyways where you’re not supposed to go. Perhaps the most standout mechanic is that of Maya’s walkman: while she’s listening to music, she is able to see pathways through the fire that allow her to reach new areas. Her walkman is battery powered, however, and she’ll need to dig through trash cans to find more batteries if the ones she carries die. There’s also a single stage that shakes things up by having Maya put on roller skates and avoid fire and cars.

The level designs themselves are well thought out, although they are on the easy side for veterans. The aim is to get Maya from point A to point B, picking up the necessary items to clear a level along the way. Usually, Maya will need a key or two to make it through a level, although there is an instance where she needs to find a quarter to get a payphone to work. The game will ask you to confirm if you’re using a key, though we never ran into an instance where we’d need to save our keys for later. The puzzles are linear affairs, and there are no hidden paths or other secrets that we ran into, which hurts replayability. There is no timer and there are no lives to worry about. Maya can “die”, for example by having the batteries of her walkman run out while she’s making her way through the fire, but she’ll respawn instantly, and you don’t have to completely restart the stage -apart from in the aforementioned roller skate level. It all adds up to a game that oozes fun and charm but lacks longevity and reasons to return to it once you’ve completed it.

Conclusion

There is a lot to like about Fire Tonight, especially if you’re a ’90s kid, but the game’s overall lack of content really stings. It’s a matter of style over substance: what’s here is really good, but there simply isn’t enough of it to make the game a must-have in your collection. The asking price isn’t all that high, so you really need to ask yourself if €4.99 is worth 45 minutes worth of content to you. If it is, then there is a good chance you’ll end up liking what you get here, but if you were hoping to get a more reasonable 2-3 hours worth of entertainment, then you’ll end up feeling a little ripped off.

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SebastiaanRaats


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