Coming from the former lead designer of Dead Cells, this 2D firefighting adventure-platformer was created for a 48 hour game jam.
You probably haven't heard of Deepnight Games, as this is a one-man studio founded by Sébastien Benard, best known as the former lead developer and game designer on Dead Cells. But this indie developer recently launched its latest game, Nuclear Blaze, a 2D pixel firefighting adventure that tasks players with venturing deep into a mysterious facility to control the fires and flames that are raging within. I've spent the past few days going through the fire fighting ringer to see how this game stacks up to Bernard's previous titles, and from my experience this is a genuinely wholesome title that features a lot of the charm of Dead Cells without also serving up its vicious difficulty.
Unlike Dead Cells, Nuclear Blaze isn't a roguelike, and doesn't have enemies to face. This is a game that revolves around its exploration and platforming. The storyline mainly consists of you, a firefighter, heading into a subterranean complex that seems to be powered by nuclear reactors to quell the fires that have erupted within and to subsequently prevent the reactors from exploding.
Completing these objectives are actually relatively simple. The gameplay asks you for the most part to platform through a variety of levels, solving minor challenges that often are increased in difficulty by fire that spreads throughout the level. Your goal is to clear the room of fire and to find the exit of the level to advance through the facility, and that's pretty much the entirety of what Nuclear Blaze asks of you.
This is not a complex game, and that's a major highlight of it. There are a bunch of alternative objectives and abilities that elevate the gameplay experience a tad (we'll get to these in a bit), but one of my favourite aspects of Nuclear Blaze is its accessibility. This title has been created with a variety of age groups and skill levels in mind. You can adjust a broad slider and tweak a bunch of options to make the experience suit the way you enjoy to play, and on top of that, the control scheme is super easy to handle. Sure, the mouse and keyboard controls are a little rough around the edges, and you can clearly see that the controller is the best way to play, but the fact that you can play with just one hand on M&K, with ease for that matter, you get an idea as to how simple the gameplay is to manage.
Touching on the other ways that Nuclear Blaze buffs out its gameplay experience, each level has a variety of secrets and goodies to uncover, be it finding lore and documents that lead onto why the facility is in the state it is, or instead locating and saving trapped civilians or animals.
And likewise, as the story evolves and you head deeper into the facility, you'll unlock new abilities that become crucial in survival, such as being able to roll out the way of falling debris, or being able to create a water shield to protect yourself from explosions. These abilities do often also make it easier to deal with the flames, which gradually become more of a challenge to handle, and more rampant in nature as you progress.
But, even though both of these do add to the Nuclear Blaze experience, with the abilities being far more crucial than the secrets, they don't change the fact that Nuclear Blaze excels in its simplicity. Deepnight has done a fantastic job at keeping things simple and focussed, and in return, a game that is tight and continuously enjoyable has been formed.
Nuclear Blaze won't take you long to beat it, and considering you can customise the experience to suit the level of challenge you enjoy, it's hard to really find a major fault with this game. Sure, an experience that lasted longer than a few hours would be a welcome one, but at the same time, this title never overstays its welcome and wraps up without ever making you feel tired or bored. And if all of that doesn't quite grab you, you can be glad to know that alike Dead Cells, Nuclear Blaze has some absolutely striking pixel visuals, which are vibrant and genuinely fantastic.
I really don't have a lot of pessimistic or negative things to say about Nuclear Blaze. This is a game that is meant to be enjoyed from the get-go and through to its very end, and it has been designed in such a way to befit this without every feeling oppressing or fatiguing. If you like Dead Cells, or are looking for a way to spend a weeknight or two, this is a wholesome and engaging way to do it, which is all the more impressive considering it was created for a 48 hour game jam by Bernard, and retails for less than £10!
8 / 10
Genuinely enjoyable. Difficulty slider makes it great for a variety of skills/ages. Pixel graphics are impressive.
Mouse and Keyboard controls are a little rough around the edges. Quite short.