There is a considerable time and design investment in making a deep metroidvania experience. It’s the kind of production that is rarely tackled by one person, even less by one person who spent two and half years teaching himself how to program games. Developer Warren Smith is breaking that mold, with his upcoming project Dark Flame. The alpha demo showcases a solid experience with intriguing potential. Dark Flame requires content, new levels, enemies, and engine tweaks to make the experience a complete one- but it will require gamer support to complete its Kickstarter campaign goals.
Step into the shoes of Tahariel, a knight embroiled in the Baltic Crusades. Something causes his fellow knights to go outright insane, but leaves him unaffected. Tahariel decides to uncover the source of this power. Soon it comes to light that they have succumbed to The Dark Flame, an entity of great power and unknown purpose. The story promises to give players strong choices as to which path they would take, with hard choices that may have players choosing the lesser of two wrongs at times.
There plenty of favorable elements to Dark Flame, even at this early stage. While more Castlevania than Metroid, Dark Flame is aspiring to go offer more than both of those influences. There are ARPG elements laced in this platformer that provides depth, and experimentation with items, skills and character statistics is encouraged. By changing these elements, you can tailor your gameplay to suit your style of play.
Death does not mean you start over, it means you add more skill points to where you are weakest- or find the next skill and jump right back in. Exploring can yield better weapons (which does alter Tahariel’s look) and newer spells. Save points are also hidden throughout the game, and locating them are as useful as the items and new skills you are hunting. Exploring is very enjoyable when you have an art style as detailed and well done as this. While classic in its 2d pixel looks, and an obvious homage to its roots, Dark Flame feels new, not a rehash of older games beyond it’s noted admiration for the classics. A dynamic musical soundtrack, changes with the scenery, is enjoyable and compliments everything else this game has to offer.
The game is not for the feint of heart, as there is a notable degree of difficulty. Instead Dark Flame appeals towards those who enjoy perseverance and detailed exploration. There are hidden rooms, and secrets throughout the game that will greatly aid in your journey- if you have the will to find them. Some of these require backtracking once you have acquired the right skills to reach previously unattainable areas. A mixture of deadly platforming traps to maneuver through breaks up combat. Enemies are varied, some that are quite powerful, giving you pause to taking the more dangerous paths too early in your game.
To deliver a complete and polished adventure developer Warren Smith is seeking community support. The alpha (available for free here) is a good showcase for the many merits Dark Flame holds. By watching the video above, you can clearly see how far the developer was able to take this game on his own, and how the addition of an artist and composer propels the attractiveness of the game so much more. To do that funding is required (because I need fullscreen support with my metroidvania and full Steam Controller support would be keen). Dark Flame has a goal of $75,000, with only 10 days to go interested gamers need to act fast to help this project take flight. It has been a long time since a good metroidvania hybrid has been released, despite the fact this genre is a nostalgic favorite for many. We are really looking forward to playing a completed and fleshed out Dark Flame.