PCReviews

Nuclear Blaze review

Nuclear Blaze is a new 2D puzzle platformer from one of the creators of Dead Cells. You take on the role of a Fireman, and there’s a sprawling blaze at an abandoned warehouse, and you have to put it out. This was a surprise to me, it came out of nowhere, and is a whole lot of fun.

At the start of the game, you’re in a chopper, overlooking the disaster that’s taken place. The gravity of what’s happened isn’t immediately clear, it’s only when you venture deep into the first level you find nuclear warnings. You exit the chopper, and the first few minutes are learning the core mechanics of spraying water on the fires to put them out. At first, your movement is restricted to simply left and right with the firehose, although quickly new skills like a dodge roll, and pointing the hose in different directions open up to you. It’s a good thing too because this fire is raging hard, and in each room, you go into walls are falling down, there’s a backdraft building behind closed doors and danger around every corner.

Nuclear Blaze was created by S├ębastien Benard, a member of the Motion Twin team behind the massive indie hit Dead Cells. You can immediately tell when you start playing Nuclear Blaze, the controls are tight, the pixel art is gorgeous and you can feel the experience in solid gameplay. You play as one of a team of Firemen, but you venture off alone into a busted old warehouse to investigate the fire further. At the start your colleagues are battling the fire outside, but you venture into the building to investigate further.

One of the core mechanics in Nuclear Blaze is the firehose itself, and the water refill. You only have a certain amount of water, and every now and again you’ll see refill stations, which you have to stand near to refill your water. This means you have to be careful about how much water you use to quash the fires, otherwise, you’ll run out quickly and the fire will overpower you and kill you pretty quickly. It’s a game where you will die a lot, but it’s one of the main teaching mechanics in the game, much like Celeste or similar games.

Nuclear Blaze is a series of puzzles. When you enter an area the room will be in the dark and you have to find your way through, by finding keys or other items to open up rooms or navigating flame-licked corridors to make your way through to the other side. Objectives are mixed in there too to make sure you don’t feel too comfortable, for example, you’ll have a timer countdown where you have to turn off a few reactors in a room before you can exit. Generally, you can’t open a door until you extinguish all the fire, so make sure you’re putting out the fire as you go.

You are constantly on the comms with Control, and they are giving you info about the fire, and you are relaying back to them your findings. It’s a neat way to tell the story, and helps to build up the tension, especially when you start to find the nuclear signs. As you go deeper into levels comms gets harder given the radio signals can’t get through. There’s more world-building here too with notes left behind, which give you a good sense of the characters who were here in the facility before the fire broke out.

There’s no complicated items or RPG mechanics in Nuclear Blaze, the game is fairly simple in terms of objectives, but it’s far from simple in terms of gameplay. It may have been created by one of the Dead Cells team, but that’s really where the similarities end. Your job is a simple one, tackle the blaze and put out the fire, and solve the puzzles as quickly as you can, all the while trying not to die.

The art in Nuclear Blaze is great, I’m a big fan of the pixel art style and the environments help build that sense of tension. The audio is simple and straight forward, although the music should be called out as being excellent. The music drives you forward providing a nice little beat, that works really well alongside putting out the fire.

The fire effects are interesting here, when you think you have put out the fire, but then all of a sudden it starts burning away again, it’s a decent realistic depiction of what a burning building would be. There’s a red, orange, and yellow haze on the screen when things start to heat up, all adding up to the sense of danger. There are moments in the game when the roof caves in, it really makes you sit up straight in your chair and pay attention.

Nuclear Blaze is fairly simple in scope, but it’s a game that’s executed really well. It knows exactly what it wants to be and you get straight to the point within minutes. You can see its origins as a gamejam game in the gameplay, it’s direct and gets you into the action immediately. I enjoyed the game for what it is. It’s not something I’m going to spend 100 hours on, but not all games have to be that. I like the fact there are no items, upgrade paths or skill trees, just a fireman trying to put out a dangerous fire. I’d recommend giving Nuclear Blaze a shot, it’s fun and the puzzles can be tricky at times, so this isn’t a walk in the park.

Thanks to the team for providing a review copy of the game for this review.

Developer: Deepnight Games
Publisher: Deepnight Games
Platforms: PC
Release Date: 18th October 2021