Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
When a game has the audacity to show quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Buddha during its load screens, obviously something special is about to go down. Fortunately, Primal Flame’s unique touch gameplay fuels what could have easily just been an artsy screensaver.
In Primal Flame, players light a fire and must do everything in their power to keep it going in a dark, cruel forest. After all, fire is life, man. Players light their fire by swiping their finger across the touch screen, and like lighting a real match the process is a little tricky and takes some practice. Once the fire gets going though, players keep their finger pressed down and guide it around the screen. The goal is to collect light seeds that enrich the flame while avoiding the dead leaves that extinguish it. Meanwhile, players must navigate deadly vines that reach out for the flame and can only be destroyed by burning their roots. If the fire ever goes out, just strike up another, but lose too many and it’s game over.
The experience of actually playing Primal Flame is so good that it overshadows how pretentious its premise might seem. Manually creating and maintaining the fire through strokes and presses on the touch screen is an extremely cool and tactile mechanic, as is combating enemies by burning their source. Like Little Inferno, the game capitalizes on how inherently satisfying it is to set something ablaze. Seeds can also be used to unlock new fire types. In addition to improved abilities like longer life and a wider radius, these new fires come in different colors. The game only takes place in a single, painted, silhouetted forest. However, the rainbow of flames combined with the moody atmosphere created by the impressive lighting keeps the game looking fresh. Meanwhile, the soft and dreamy piano tones are pretty much the only music a game like this could conceivably have, and they do their job just fine.
Primal Flame can’t help but be a little slight. However, great visuals and a surprisingly strong gameplay hook keep it burning bright while it lasts.