Nuclear Blaze Console Review – Confounded Flames

    Title: Nuclear Blaze
    Developer: Deepnight Games
    Release Date: April 28, 2023
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: Deepnight Games
    Genre: 2D Platformer

Firefighting is a practice you don’t commonly see in video games. Admittedly, it’s not a potential genre I’ve ever considered, but the Deepnight Games-developed Nuclear Blaze sure put plenty of thought into it. Crafted by the creator of beloved and still ongoing 2D action roguelike Dead Cells, Nuclear Blaze is a 2D firefighting action title with a dosage of mystery within an ominous atmosphere. I genuinely had no idea what to expect from this unconventional outing, yet I came out on the other end feeling moderately delighted.

Nuclear Blaze follows an unnamed firefighter tasked with putting out countless blazes in an expansive residence. However, while the exterior of the locale may appear ordinary, particular aspects become increasingly unsettling the further you progress, also putting forth the question of what in the world happened here. This game is quite brief, only lasting two to three hours at most, even for those who take their time investigating every room to their heart’s content.

As a result, the mystery this narrative embraces feels rather rushed and not particularly engaging. While you’ll find a decent bit of text detailing various facets, and a couple of cutscenes, I never found myself compelled by the circumstances. I don’t mind titles being on the shorter side, but when it feels like there could’ve been something more to it all, it’s difficult to avoid wishing that there would’ve been added elements. At the very least, I enjoyed the unexpectedly grave atmosphere, giving this outing a distinct identity aside from its premise.

Thankfully, the gameplay makes up for this apparent shortcoming with a simple yet addictive process. As you progress, your primary obstacle is obviously fire, and you just have to blast it down with water. Although you can’t solely spam its output since you have a limited capacity that must frequently be re-filled, there are countless spots of those everywhere you go.

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That design choice may seem odd and perhaps even needless, yet the water refills are strategically placed to be after just enough walking for when you’ll almost have an empty tank. Adequate conservation is not a strict theme of this experience, as it’s more casual than much else, though it helps provide enough tension to keep you on your toes. In regards to optional objectives, you can find cats in well-hidden secret paths, and who doesn’t like cats? Unless you’re allergic, I guess.

This point then ties into the pseudo-puzzles you’ll encounter, sometimes comprising timed sequences where you must take out fires to such an extent that they’re no longer spreading since even a singular blaze can cause havoc.

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In a way, it sort of reminds me of PowerWash Simulator, except far antsier, with the general pursuit of perfectionism and spotlessness. A few sequences at the end caught me off guard, though the challenge never goes beyond an initial fence to jump. Still, you can customize the game to be more difficult and go through the “Hold My Beer” mode with substantial additions, including new rooms, so there’s a decent incentive for replay value.

Interestingly, Nuclear Blaze contains a Kid Mode explicitly designed for younger players. Death is impossible in this mode, water is infinite, and the controls are simplified alongside a few other quality-of-life features. I don’t believe I’ve ever played a game that specifically has a scenario intended for youths, but it’s a neat inclusion. So, if you have a child and are looking to get them into gaming, Nuclear Blaze’s refined intentions of making it appealing to that crowd make this title one you should consider.

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Nuclear Blaze is a brief, yet, almost therapeutic gameplay experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it did have me wishing for more. Still, I’d much rather feel that than the opposing extreme. You could do much worse if you’re looking for a quaint lunch-long adventure with just a few spooks.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.