Review round-up: The Flame In The Flood, Sine Mora EX, Rogue Trooper Redux

It’s time for another batch of mini reviews!

I’ve tinkered with the format this time: reviews are a little shorter now, but they’re each supported with a First Play, my new video series in which I capture the first 15-30 minutes of each game as I played it for the first time.

This way you can see how I reacted to it at first, and then how the game eventually panned out in the review.

The Flame In The Flood

The Molasses Flood
Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – A survival game in which a young lass and a stray dog team up to try and live as long as possible by travelling between small islands on a raft.

Is it any good? – I’m usually not a big fan of survival games and I’m definitely not a fan of crafting games where you have to keep collecting resources and combining them to make useful items. I just think they’re a bit of a faff.

However, something about The Flame In The Flood struck a chord with me and I had a fantastic time playing it.

It looks incredible (its ugly main character design aside), with beautiful stylised locations and great weather effects: the nifty lighting during thunderstorms at night is great.

It’s also got a fantastic country-style score, which perfectly suits the ‘exploring the wilderness’ mood of the game.

Given that I don’t usually like roguelike survival games, the fact I thoroughly enjoyed this one due to its unique atmosphere and beautiful soundtrack means fans of the genre will doubtless adore it.

Sine Mora EX

THQ Nordic / Digital Reality & Grasshopper Manufacture
Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – An old-school shoot ‘em up with a unique time-based mechanic: killing an enemy increases the game’s timer, while taking damage reduces it.

Originally released in 2012 for last-gen systems, this EX edition offers improved visuals and a remixed soundtrack.

Is it any good? – The Switch already has a couple of solid old-school shoot ‘em ups in its library thanks to the likes of Strikers1945, Aero Fighters 2 and Blazing Star, but Sine Mora EX has a more modern polygonal look.

It’s a beautiful-looking shooter as a result, with loads of dramatic set-pieces and enormous boss battles.

On higher difficulty levels the number of bullets flying around is ridiculous, and yet the game rarely slips from its usual 60fps framerate.

Its only major drawback is that if you take a hit you lose your power-ups and have to collect them again. Because the game is time-based, if you fail to do this later in the game you might as well call it quits because it’ll take too long to defeat enemies and you’ll run out of time.

Its storyline is also a bit of a mess: I had no idea what the fuck was going on. Thankfully, you can hold a button to fast-forward through all that.

Avoid its nonsensical plot, then, and despite a few gameplay quirks that occasionally destabilise things Sine Mora EX is still a sensational shooter five years on from its original release.

Rogue Trooper Redux

Rebellion Developments / TickTock Games
Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – Another remaster of an old game, this time the 2006 PS2 and Xbox game (which later came to Wii) based on the 2000 AD comic series of the same name.

Is it any good? – Rogue Trooper Redux is the perfect example of a game not needing to have flashy graphics to still provide a solid, entertaining experience.

Even with a new HD sheen there’s no denying that it looks a bit shit, like a bunch of toy soldiers suddenly found themselves in Hull.

Despite this it’s still a treat to play: shooting the enemies is satisfying and the concept being able to attach the AI of your fallen colleagues to your equipment so they can live on is fun.

It’s not the longest game ever – it’ll take you 10 hours at most to beat – but for those like me who long for the days when that was considered good enough rather than the single-player epics we have to slog through these days, it’s a welcome change to return to a tight, padding-free adventure.


10tons Ltd
Switch, Xbox One, PS4, Steam (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – A twin-stick shooter set in a dystopian future. You play as the Jydge, a Robocop-style law enforcement officer who shoots first and asks questions later.

Actually, I don’t remember any bits where he asks questions.

Is it any good? – The prevalence of the twin-stick shooter in the indie game community means a bunch have already found their way onto the Switch.

Jydge is the latest offering and it’s easily one of the best so far.

Each stage gives you a trio of objectives and the more of these you achieve the more medals you earn. These medals are then used to unlock later stages, so you can only get away with scraping by for a while before you have to go back and get the job done properly.

Doing so never feels like a grind, though, because the shooting in Jydge is so bloody satisfying. The default controls include a very slight lock-on mechanic which doesn’t make the game much easier but does ensure frustrating moments are far less frequent.

On top of this, the huge variety of unlockable weapons and upgrades means you’ll be dabbling with different set-ups for ages.

As you’ll see in the First Play video above, this one really took me by surprise. I love it.

Tiny Barbarian DX

Nicalis / StarQuail
Switch, Steam (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – A retro style hack and slash adventure in which you play as a widdle warrior and have to make your way through four large episodes slashing through everything in your path.

Is it any good? – Indie games with retro graphics are very much this generation’s cel-shading. It was lovely to see at first but now it’s been over-done and it takes something special to get my attention.

Tiny Barbarian does do this, but it comes at a cost. No, I mean literally.

The game itself is fun enough: it’s nice and fast-paced, and the simple two-button controls mean you get the hang of things ridiculously quickly (as you can see in my First Play video).

It’s also a decent length for a game of its type: expect to beat it in around 5 hours, which isn’t bad.

The problem is, at £26.99 / $29.99 it’s more expensive than the vast majority of indie games: even Shovel Knight, which offers significantly more content.

What it does is entertaining, then, but at the moment it’s far too expensive for what it offers.


Darkwind Media / Fully Illustrated
Switch (Xbox One, PS4, Steam coming soon)

What is it? – A retro-style scrolling beat ‘em up set during the Roman occupation of Britain in 120 AD. You play as a trio of Scots who have decided enough is enough.

Is it any good? – I’ll be honest, I wanted to like Wulverblade as soon as I realised it had Scottish characters in it (even if their accents are iffy). Thankfully, I did.

It’s easily one of the best-looking 2D games on Switch, with superbly hand-drawn characters and environments that wouldn’t look out of place in a UbiArt game like Valiant Hearts.

It’s brilliantly gory, with limbs flying all over the place and the rare but welcome opportunities to perform death strikes on weakened enemies will make you chuckle at their brutality.

More importantly, the combat is well executed (HAHAHAHA OH CHRIST) and boss fights are a genuine challenge given their huge health bars.

If you’re craving some Streets Of Rage style goodness on your Switch, this is a decent choice. It can get a little repetitive eventually, but it does its one trick very well.

88 Heroes: 98 Heroes Edition

Rising Star Games / Bitmap Bureau
Switch, Xbox One, PS4, Steam (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – A retro platformer in which the aim is to clear 88 levels in 88 minutes with 88 different heroes. Or 98, as is the case in this special edition.

Is it any good? – 88 Heroes has some clever ideas. Each of its 88 characters (and the 10 new ones in this version) are distinct creations with their own backstory, control style and abilities.

The idea of clearing 88 stages with randomly chosen ones is also an interesting one. However, it’s where the game ultimately stumbles too.

The random nature of the hero selection means that sometimes you’ll end up with a character who’s just completely unsuitable for the stage you’re on.

While some would argue that adds to the fun, it does make for some frustrating moments when you’re trying to better your previous attempt and hit a stumbling block through no fault of your own.

This Switch port also suffers from some serious frame rate issues at times, as you can see in my First Play video above. While there’s every chance these could be fixed with a patch, at the time of writing they’re still there.

It’s a good idea, then, but at £29.99 / $29.99 I’d expect a hell of a lot more bang for my buck than a quirky platformer that, while well designed, relies on randomness as its main gimmick.

Spelunker Party!

Square Enix / Tozai Games
Switch, Steam (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – A platformer for up to four players in which you trawl through over 100 caves collecting treasure and avoiding the traps within.

Is it any good? – While comparisons with Spelunky are inevitable, Spelunker Party is actually the spiritual successor to Spelunker, a 1983 NES game.

Don’t be fooled by its name: this isn’t a party game, it’s a side-scrolling platformer, and a difficult one at that.

Falling anything other than a small distance will result in instant death, as will missing jumps to any of the vines strewn throughout each stage.

This – combined with the frequent use of hidden traps – means that for at least the first couple of hours you’re going to be swearing at this more times than is considered healthy.

Eventually though you get the hang of its sneaky tricks and you’ll start to enjoy the game, especially if you play it in co-op with up to three other friends.

Spelunker Party is fine. It’s not likely to be a permanent fixture in your Switch for months to come but as a half-decent diversion it gets the job done, most notably in co-op.

In order that I could write the above reviews, I received copies of each game from their respective PRs. The content of my reviews and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.

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