Frozen Flame is quite a survival game that has to find its own way | Early access screenings
Survival games are big business these days, and the genre works very well with the Early Access model. It allows the developer to see what works, make changes on the fly, and slowly grow the game’s ecosystem until it’s ready for release to the public. Frozen Flame, the new Survival RPG from Dreamside Interactive, is an example of why Early Access might be necessary, as it feels like it still needs time to find its feet.
It tells you next to nothing, dropping you into the loins of a player-created character in a fantasy immediately reminiscent of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. There is some story going on, but nothing is given much real context, and then you are simply dropped into the world. You meet a merchant, Hornhead, who asks you to get his backpack from some thieves and leave.
The world itself is quite beautiful, all swaying grasses, flowing rivers and shadowy forests rendered in sharp, rich colors. You are required to craft an ax and a pickaxe, break down trees and rocks, gather resources, etc. You will harvest plant fibers to spin clothes, create a workbench, and finally start forging weapons such as bows and swords.
My first problem with Frozen Flame is that it feels very familiar. Crafting, collecting and exploring in such a small starting area is uninspired at best. How many times have we gathered wood and stone to make an axe, then finally a backpack, some armor, followed sparse instructions, and wandered aimlessly until adventure just sort of presented itself? Many, many times is the answer.
After some exploring, you’ll come across a dude who wants you to find four holy masks to do… something. It’s the closest thing to a proper quest there is, but it highlights another problem I have with Frozen Flame: there’s no sense of the grandiose. You are only asked to do something and there is nothing else to do, so why not?
I won’t be too hard on Frozen Flame, because there are some decent ideas, such as needing the titular Flames to level up with special shrines scattered around the place. But elements that should be tight just aren’t. Combat, for example, is hack and slash and block until the enemy dies. There is no flare or character to it and there must be something more exciting going on. Maybe it will be more engaging when there are more enemies and weapons.
It’s a beautiful game, though, and there’s a lot going on that suggests a detailed world to explore. There are lore nodes scattered around the backstory, pointing to a greater depth that will come later, during and after the early access period.
Frozen Flame has some potential. The world is exciting, if a little empty at the moment, and with a few tweaks the combat could be a lot more fun. There’s absolutely nothing I actively dislike here, it’s just not particularly new or fresh. At the moment it feels like Frozen Flame is overshadowed by most of its genre mates and needs to forge its own path forward.