With the number of indie video games released these days, there have been many different ideas that have been explored. This includes many different gameplay ideas and themes/stories. I have played many games with unique premises, but I can confidently say that I have never played a video game before based on a song. Well that changed when I played Fire Tonight a puzzle video game based on the Information Society song of the same name. As I am not familiar with the song, what initially intrigued me about the game was the puzzle elements and the overall atmosphere/theme. Fire Tonight has some fun puzzle elements mixed with an interesting nostalgic 1990s story/theme that unfortunately is a pretty short experience.
Fire Tonight takes place in the 1990s. Couple Maya and Devin are talking on the phone when the power system blows starting sections of the city on fire. As their conversation is cut short Maya decides to meet Devin at his apartment in order to make sure that he is okay. As Maya makes her way to Devin and the fire spreads throughout the city, the two look back at their relationship to see how they got to their current situation.
The gameplay of Fire Tonight is broken up into two pretty distinctive types as you switch between Maya and Devin. Maya’s gameplay is similar to a typical puzzle game. The objective of each stage/location is to reach the exit as you make your way towards Devin’s location. This involves finding keys to unlock gates and finding alternative paths to avoid the growing fire, police officers and other obstacles that will stop your progress. The most direct path to the exit is rarely the correct one as you regularly need to take alternative paths in order to get past the obstacles in your path.
As a big fan of puzzle games this was the gameplay element that I was most interested in. Ultimately I found it to be fun even if the puzzles are on the easy side. Maybe it is just because I play a lot of puzzle games, but I really didn’t find anything about this aspect of the game to be particularly challenging. If you take your time fully exploring the environment you will find the solution to each puzzle pretty easily. Most of the puzzles are built around finding alternative ways of reaching a specific location as some obstacle will be blocking your path. You eventually acquire a portable music player which you can turn on and off which for some reason gets rid of some of the fire when you have it turned on. The player uses batteries though so if it runs out you need to search a nearby trashcan for more batteries. This is an interesting little twist to the gameplay as it gives you more things to consider as you plan how to continue further on your journey.
Meanwhile I would classify Devin’s gameplay as more of a point and click game. Basically you interact with various items in his apartment prompting Devin to tell you about each and how many of them relate to his relationship with Maya. Unlike most point and click games there really isn’t much for puzzles. You mostly just interact with items and don’t have to solve any puzzles with them. Eventually you will be able to interact with an object which will end the current level.
I honestly don’t have much to say about the Devin sections of the game. In many ways there isn’t much gameplay to these sections. There might have been a couple of minor puzzles, but these were so obvious that I don’t know if I would even consider them to be puzzles. Basically you just click on objects, and then Devin makes a comment about them. These sections do a decent job building out the story/atmosphere, but the gameplay itself is not particularly compelling.
While the two character’s gameplay are quite different, they both share the fact that the game is really easy. You can’t die in the game and you can rarely even fail. When you do fail you are just sent back to your last safe area so there is no real punishment for failing. The Devin sections have no real challenge as you just select items to interact with and then just move onto the next section. The puzzles in the Maya section are a little more challenging, but I would still say that they were quite easy. Fire Tonight isn’t going to challenge you which will probably be a turnoff for some players. If you are looking for a more laid back experience though, I think it will give you what you are looking for as you don’t have to put too much thought into what you are doing.
Ultimately I found Fire Tonight’s gameplay to be decent as I had fun playing the game. Probably the game’s greatest asset though is the overall atmosphere. The story is mostly built around the two main characters’ relationship and how they got to their current position. The story is interesting enough if this sounds like something that would interest you. The overall atmosphere is quite good as well. The visuals look really nice. Combined with the audio/soundtrack, you get a interesting world and story to explore. The game does a good job utilizing the 1990s theme as well as it relies on the players nostalgia for the early 90s. If the premise behind the game intrigues you, you will likely enjoy this aspect of the game.
My biggest issue with Fire Tonight is the fact that it is a really short game. Generally I prefer when games are longer as they give you a better bang for your buck. A game can still be short and be worth experiencing though. In the case of Fire Tonight, I just felt it was too short. I ended up finishing the game in around 1.5-2 hours. As the game doesn’t really have any replay value outside of just playing through the story again, the length was a disappointment. While the story doesn’t end abruptly and flows normally, it feels like something is missing in the middle. I think the game would have benefited from more content. The game doesn’t utilize its mechanics as much as it could have. It ultimately feels like there is something missing from the game.
There are things that I liked about Fire Tonight, but it does have some issues as well. The puzzle mechanics in the Maya sections can be pretty fun as you find alternative paths to move forward. The gameplay in the Devin sections is pretty basic though where they are there more for the story than the actual gameplay. The story is pretty good as it does a good job capitalizing on the 1990s nostalgia. The visuals and overall atmosphere is quite good as well. The game is not particularly difficult though as it is unlikely that you will have much trouble progressing in the game. The game’s biggest issue is just that it is so short. At only 1.5-2 hours I think the game would have benefited from having more content.
My recommendation comes down to your thoughts on the overall premise and the fact that the game is quite short. If the game’s premise doesn’t intrigue you all that much, Fire Tonight probably won’t be for you. If the short length concerns you, I would probably wait for a sale. Those intrigued by the premise though and don’t mind the short length, should enjoy Fire Tonight and consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Reptoid Games, and Way Down Deep for the review copy of Fire Tonight used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.