I got to be honest with you, guys. When the opportunity arrived to check out Frozen Flame, I almost sighed. Another attempt of an RPG, and an early access one! I will try not to turn this review a grumpy old mess of me exuding nostalgia out of every pore of my body, but I believe a game is not finished until, well, it is finished. And with that attitude, I installed this game on my computer. And what I found can only be described as a moment of gratitude and stupidity.
Gratitude for having the chance of playing such a good game in spite of it not being a full-blown release. Stupidity because I felt it was the best way to describe myself feeling regret over almost judging this game prematurely. Judging a book by its cover for is now, at least for me, judging a game by its development state or something. Frozen Flame is a gold mine, and I wish it was fully open to find the whole treasure within.
A survival ARPG that promises only to get bigger with the passing of time. The fact of the matter is, that even in an early access stage, the game already offers a great deal of entertainment and action to make you feel wanting more and wanting to bring Dr. Brown’s Delorean to go further in time to play the full game. You can also travel through the Quantum Realm if you like a more current reference. It is not perfect, and we will talk about it yet, but it surely packs a punch. And boy do I love being punched by video games. In this case, Frozen Flame caught me off guard, and also knocked me down. But I still live to play another day. Anyway, start preview.
- The game is extremely well-designed, and you get to discover new things constantly.
- The missions are a great example of excellence. We’ll talk about it later.
- The progression system feels rewarding and fair.
- There is a lot of future content for the full game launch.
- The community surrounding this game has a lot of potential to expand.
If Being Frozen is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right, Or Unfrozen
You see, I have had rough times with video games I expect to be great. Ultimately, they feel clunky, unfinished, and a poor excuse of a game. With Frozen Flame you’re directly in the middle of action, and you feel in control almost instantly. Quite simple. Grab your sword, move, attack, collect, heal. Repeat. However, the game doesn’t neglect you, neither does it take you by the hand all the time. It feels like the perfect balance between a parent that guides his kid in order for him to begin walking by himself. Or in this case, fly by himself, quite literally.
The movement of the character feels great, you don’t feel like you’re struggling even to take a step. You have already learned how to walk, now you need to dash, jump and survive the land of Arkana. Basic stuff really. And you feel like your character responds to your every command. The ability to do this is essential, and it may sound overly obvious, but the game protagonist should fill like an extension of your hands and inputs. Frozen Flame achieves this.
Furthermore, the survival part of the game is something that I really enjoyed doing. Most of the time, survival games are quite unforgiving, but I found it really balanced in this case. It is a great way to connect with your character. Building a house, crafting equipment, clothes and weapons and repairing every single one of your objects. Everything is created by your own hands, and I started to feel like I’m making this game my own. That is immersion through gameplay mechanics. No need for flamboyant sequences or camera angles, pure gameplay, not even the character customization. And I played the game with a keyboard and mouse! And although, according to the developers, they designed the game with the keyboard and mouse configuration in mind, I can only imagine what a wonderful experience to have a full-fledged controller implementation. Now that’s something I’m hopeful for.
Battling enemies also feel great. You can approach every single battle of the game the way you like, making your play style the narrator of each encounter. Initially you are going to get destroyed, obviously. The game must show you that while you can be in control of yourself, you must gather the resources and also the knowledge of each battle to be victorious. And every time I was killed mercilessly, I learned, specially during nighttime (man, do I hate those bubble thingies attacking me like there is no tomorrow). And when you learn, you optimize. Fighting never felt so good. In a video game, of course.
Chilled to Perfection
I don’t go around throwing the world “perfect” anywhere, and Frozen Flame is not perfect. But boy did it touch perfection at times. I’m talking about the early parts of the Campaign. After recovering your body and life, you encounter Arkana. After learning the basics of building and crafting, one of your first missions is to recover four masks. You receive one by default, and you must recover the other three in order to open up a portal. The mission is Search for the Keeper. And it is a level design masterpiece.
You see, not only do you have to travel the map, allowing you to encounter enemies and other secrets such as Rituals and side missions, but it introduces every game and battle mechanic in a natural and flawless way. You will have to go to three shrines in total where you need to deposit an offering (or sacrifice like the names calls it) in order to call each mini-boss guarding each mask. The offering goes from a resource you find naturally in the wild, from a plate you must prepare, all the way to an object you must get by planting it.
Related: Is Frozen Flame Co-op? Answered
If that’s not enough, every single mini-boss has a different weapon: a staff, a sword and a bow respectively. And believe me or not, I found that the best way to face them is to use the same weapons as well, effectively showing you the several weapon mechanics and characteristics by trying and failing. I’m flabbergasted by what this mission had to offer. I’m still very impressed, even moved a little bit. But anyway, let’s not get overly dramatic.
Falling With Style
Speaking about natural, the progression system in the game feels really rewarding. You see, I will always get my bottom handed to me countless times in these types of game, but every time I gathered a little bit of resources, or a little bit of Flame (the game’s XP), and sometimes I even grabbed a Frozen Flame (an XP point). That enabled me not only to craft the tools necessary to survive, but also pick up several new abilities in the skill tree in order to have several boosts progressively.
Each time that I died, I didn’t only learn, but I got stronger. And I thank the developers that they didn’t turn this game a rogue-lite, because once you revive you can get back to wherever you fell, only taking a hit on your equipment’s durability and state. I can only imagine doing everything all over again. I think I’ve received my rogue quota for the year.
All of this, of course, has an interesting story that, in my opinion, needs some expansion. I honestly forgot about it when I played the game, almost as if the game didn’t need a story. I guess the developers will cover this matter by adding more content throughout the following months or years until the game is fully released. Until then, I can only review what I experienced, so I can say that the story was the weakest part of my experience. Not terrible, but not memorable either.
However, it ultimately wasn’t a dealbreaker. But if a game claims to be an RPG, then I expect a story to be a big part of what the game is. I guess with the game also being a survival type of game, you could argue that that would be the reason for the story to be a little neglected, but I digress. I just say that if you have an RPG game with its story overshadowed by the mere progression of the game, you’re doing something wrong. Balancing both aspects, that is, having a great progression system and a compelling story and characters (something that is lacking as well), is what makes an RPG memorable. Let’s hope that they give the RPG part of the game the amount of love that the survival part of the game has already received.
Flaming Graphics, Frozen Performance
Ok, time to get spicy. See, I don’t have super computer, but I have played games that, in essence, are much more demanding than Frozen Flame. They perform on a flawless 60 fps. Now, I know that it is a convention and that you can enjoy a game without it being buttery smooth. After all, my favorite game of all time runs at 24 fps. But now, I have a really hard time wondering why does the game struggle to run, even when the game itself tells me that I can run the game on Ultra.
It is a matter of optimization, and I’m not the only one experiencing it. And it is a shame, because the graphics and art style of the game, although not unique by any sense, are quite good and fits the narrative of the game completely. The enemies have a very great design and follow a consistent aesthetic that does not feel off, even in their variety. Your character’s design is also something to be reckoned. I wish there was a lot more customization options for the character. Yet again, I always fall into the trap of expending hours customizing my character’s face, only to equip a helmet one second later. Anyway, I wish I could just have more performance in order to have a more, let’s say, soothing experience.
Ultimately, I hope that the game gets its needed optimization while also adding new content, maps, bosses and everything else. It is something that could potentially bring the experience of Frozen Flame to many more homes. Since the game is only available on Windows right now, being able to run it while having a PC Master Race supreme all the way to a potato is something that I wish was possible, Frozen Flame is fantastic, and you need to experience it.
To put it in words, I really enjoyed the game. But I really wish the full game was out by now. There are optimization and a little balancing pending and a lot of content missing. Several users report that the Campaign lasts for about 10 hours. Now, that is not a lot, so the developers need to release all the expansions and additional content now in order to keep an audience that wants more from them and that I don’t think will be willing to wait for a couple of years to have a full game on their hands.
Promises such as new bosses, new maps, new missions, new weapons and new everything sound great. However, they are only promises. And promises usually are empty. That’s the crude reality of the life. So what I wish is they deliver on those promises and allow us to enjoy their game fully. We will touch base again once the game fully releases, and I really hope that it will catch me off guard again, in a good way of course. Otherwise, I’ll feel very disappointed. For now, I really like it. So keep going, Dreamside Interactive, you have a gem in your hands.
Frozen Flame is available on Windows.