General game information
Game name: Dark Flame
Release date: Alpha build available for Patreon supporters
Price: Gamers can back the Patreon page for as little as US$ 1 and get their name on the game’s credits (promotion valid until December)
Available on: Patreon
Genre: 2D ARPG metroidvania
Developer: Warren Smith
Dark Flame is a 2d action RPG metroidvania developed by one man. The game looks rather similar to beloved classics of yesteryear like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but it manages to stand on its own thanks to a well defined art style and tight gameplay mechanics.
Playing as a crusader named Taharial, gamers will embark on a quest to defeat the evil that has taken over the land, solving puzzles and defeating bosses along the way. Fans of classic metroidvanias will feel right at home with Dark Flame’s movement and combat. Taharial can duck, jump, do a backstep, attack with a sword, cast a fireball and throw different off-hand weapons right from the start, and as the journey progresses, he will gain even more abilities and magical powers.
Movement is handled by the D-Pad on compatible joysticks (such as the Xbox 360 controller) or the arrow keys on the keyboard, while the sword slash, jump, backstep and ability/cancel move are handled by the face buttons, or the S, D, A and D keys. The character’s movement feels right, and the animations are really well done, with no obvious skipping issues.
As the game progresses, players can activate various fast travel points and unlock new abilities (such as a double jump) that can be used to access areas previously closed off, in true metroidvania fashion. New weapons and armor sets can also be found in hard to reach places, and there is a fairly robust leveling system that lets players bolster different attributes such as Strength, Agility or Intelligence. The upgrades feel meaningful, a welcome sight in a sea of games with RPG elements that don’t alter the gameplay in any tangible way.
Not all weapons behave the same way, and even similar looking swords may have different move sets associated to them. In the current pre-alpha build, dying will send players back to the last save point that they’ve activated, but it will not deprive them of their newly acquired equipment or abilities. Gold and experience will be dropped, however, and can be picked up from the place where the player died, a mechanic that feels similar to the Souls series’ Bloodstain recovery mechanic.
The difficulty curve may need a bit of work in the current build of the game, as the first boss can feel a tad too powerful. Luckily, the game’s design lets gamers skip encounters that require better equipment, and players who aren’t scared by a bit of work can grind enemies in order to get much needed upgrades before re-engaging.
Dark Flame shows a lot of promise, even in its pre-alpha state. Gamers looking for a new metroidvania should keep an eye on this one.