The biggest issue I can level at Blue Fire is that it seemingly does not know what type of game it wants to be.
On the one hand it delivers fluid and enjoyable platforming, and on the other, combat which on the surface is passable, yet fails to truly satisfy. Blue Fire is not quite a straight platforming game because it’s interspersed with action where our little protagonist wields their twin blades against bigger hulking enemies using a lock-on mechanic and some occasional flourishes.
One of these things on its own would make for a truly interesting experience. But combined, they don’t gel; it’s a muddy experience.
To give an example: after an hour or so, our intrepid hero disappears into a void – a closed-off arena full of platforming where you’re asked to collect a certain number of orbs. It’s full of spike traps, jumps asking you to twist in the air and dash to safety and make seemingly longer and longer leaps. The mechanics of movement here feel wonderful. However, the difficulty in these areas comes from checkpointing rather than player skill. If you make it all the way to the last platform and fall, it’s right back to the start. After a handful of attempts, the platforming loses its sense of fun.
With combat, the AI is wonky. Most fights in Blue Fire can be won by simply scooting behind the enemy and whacking them repeatedly. Oftentimes, the fights feel flat and devoid of any sense of achievement. In fairness, this does change somewhat as the game progresses and as areas throw more enemies at you.
I can’t help but think that without these combat sequences, the game wouldn’t suffer, especially as it doesn’t do a great job of informing you as to why exactly everything is happening. At least, not until later in the game. Blue Fire really feels like it’s throwing a lot of ideas at a wall and seeing which ones stick. It’s highlighted even more so by the odd inclusion of statues which sell the player emotes. This isn’t a multiplayer game, so it’s odd that there’s a choice to make this silent ‘badass’ protagonist suddenly jam out to techno beats.
Leaving enemies to the side and stepping away from the brooding castles and poisonous sewers, Blue Fire is a very satisfying indie platformer – even with its spotty checkpointing. When I was leaping around, bouncing here and there, gaining more movement tech, I thought to myself, “this would be amazing to watch as a speedrun”. You can’t help but feel like a speedrunner yourself as you link together abilities and err closer and closer to the edge of caution.
Ultimately, we’re left with a game that doesn’t appear to know exactly what it wants to be. Without the platforming, Blue Fire might have been a Souls-like adventure game. Without the combat, it would excel at precision platforming. But with both aspects in the mix, it doesn’t quite stick the landing of either.
Blue Fire‘s influences and inspirations are plain to see; Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, classic 3D platformers. If a single one of those was its sole focus, I would be recommending Blue Fire highly. As it stands, though, I don’t really know who I would recommend it to: the jumpers or the fighters?