Fire Tonight is a fun, bright, indie puzzle game from Reptoid Games. Following the story of Maya and Devin, a young couple who have been separated by a blaze dousing the city, players are tasked with completing a series of mind twisting puzzles in order to reunite the pair. Based in the 90s several skills are implemented to reflect the time period, and both protagonists have their own play styles.
Born in the 90s
Whilst Maya takes on the fire firsthand, facing it solo, Devin waits patiently at home after her demand. The contrast between the two characters’ approach to the situation is a refreshing break in gameplay. When playing as Maya, everything is tense and high strung. She’s the face of adventure in this title. I mean, you are facing life or death after all. But Devin takes a more reflective approach to the calamity. Sit back, chill for a bit. Maybe stick on some music or watch a film. All you have to do is wait. Devin’s gameplay is more investigative of his surroundings. You have to click around and see what’s about, then Devin’s reactions to it all. There isn’t much of a guide or any hints, so after a while if you can’t find the tiny element you need to interact with, you may get frustrated too.
This take on gameplay was certainly new, and well needed so players don’t find the puzzles repetitive. After all, there’s only so many police officers you can really dodge. For the storyline, it seems integral to show the protagonists’ journeys to one another. And it is reflective in their dialogue. Once again, the time period is consistently referenced, and modern solutions should definitely be overlooked by the player. For example, the first task for Maya is to find a payphone in order to contact Devin when her landline drops. When was the last time you embarked on a journey to find a payphone? Gone are the days of mobile phones and social media.
Secret skills and hidden keys
Since Maya’s paths are being blocked by fire (which seems to remain pretty dormant when it appears on screen), you have to find a way around. Even if it involves going an extremely long route back. Luckily you are gifted a Walkman pretty early on, but whilst this tool is visually exciting whilst sounding pretty cool – it’s rendered pretty useless. It doesn’t get revisited often, and the battery drains so quickly you’re better off saving yourself the frustration and only using it extremely briefly. It seems like a fantastic mechanic in the first instance of use, but past that point it’s just another button to remember.
The map is littered with obscure floating keys too. At least the Walkman seems appropriate to feed into the aesthetic of Fire Tonight. Unfortunately these keys are integral to getting through certain puzzles or I would definitely just disclose them as a write off. They definitely stick out like a sore thumb in the map, not to mention the stagnant dialogue that accompanies them. The map itself when playing as Maya seems a little disproportionate too. Details are so small they appear really pixelated, and sometimes the sheer amount of fire results in frame rate drops. It’s unfortunate, as the cutscenes are excellent, as for the character design during interaction.
As a whole, this game is enjoyable for anyone with nostalgia surrounding the 90s. But it isn’t something I’d recommend you drop everything to play. The length of it means you can play through the whole story in one sitting, but the ending is pretty abrupt. The premise is excellent and exciting, but the execution definitely could’ve done with more thought.