You know that feeling when you need to release one of your flies from its orb but the orb has fallen into a bird’s nest and the mother bird won’t let you near the nest while the baby birds are still hungry so you need to feed the baby birds but the only viable food sources around are the people wearing giant Easter Island Head masks who will only kill and butcher themselves into steaks if they connect with you musically but the strawberries you need to feed your fluffy long-legged orb instruments to get them to sing the right tune are hidden behind four different mini-puzzles?
Of course you don’t, because you don’t live in a point and click adventure game with its associated bizarro-world logic. But that’s exactly the situation we found ourselves in as Ungh, the titular hero of Fire: Ungh’s Quest, who has been cast out from his caveman society for letting the fire go out along with general caveman-based incompetence. To regain his social standing and save his village, Ungh needs to find a new flame by traversing a dangerous and unfeeling world, filled with absolutely nonsensical puzzles and even-less-sensical solutions. A setup that lets you know you’re in for a classic point and click adventure.
The thing that Fire: Ungh’s Quest gets absolutely right is the scale. Each level is set over three screens that you can move freely between and there are no more than around 20 things you can interact with in total on each level, with all of those things becoming useful to solving the level and some point. There is also a button you can press which highlights everything in the level that is interact-with-able. This avoids a lot of potential to get stuck thinking a colourful spider in the background is useful when it’s just there for artistic reasons, or jabbing every pixel on the screen to find something you’ve missed.
The small scale means it’s technically possible to brute-force a puzzle if you’re really stuck, so it’s almost impossible to get lost with too many seemingly incompatible options for things to do. The real genius behind Fire: Ungh’s Quests is how they’ve managed to make the game genuinely challenging with such a scale – you’ll still get a nice sense of achievement when you get to the fly orb that progresses you to the next level. The fact that that progression system feels sane and normal suggests that I’ve spent too long knee-deep in that madness. Let’s wrap this review up quickly so I don’t fully succumb.
The other thing to note about Fire: Ungh’s Quest is that it’s funny. It’s more goofy-funny than witty-funny but it sets a fun tone to frame the puzzle elements of the game which results in an enjoyable and light-hearted experience. However, it doesn’t quite nail the humour of the early LucasArts Adventure Games – the peak of point and click adventure game humour in my humble opinion.
All in all, Fire: Ungh’s Quest is another entry in the gaming industry’s great history of ludicrous point and click adventures. It has a great sense of humour, some challenging puzzles and a scale that’s perfectly judged to keep you engaged and motivated with the game. It’s a great jumping-on point for the genre and is another example of a game that’s perfect for the Switch, with pick-up-and-play 10-minute adventures meaning that Ungh and I will be spending a lot of train rides together in future. Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I have places to be. I just need to find the jug to water my plants so the parsley will tell me where its hidden my flat keys.