Robi Studios’ Blue Fire is a fast and furious action platformer that clearly takes inspiration from the Zelda series.
There’s something about strange and mysterious castles that make them popular settings in games. We’ve seen the haunted castle, the bright and cheery castle, the run down and the setting for Blue Fire – a creepy, overgrown castle.
Blue Fire is an incredibly tough platformer that will definitely put your thumbs through their paces. Waking up in what looks like a glass stasis chamber without a clue as to what is going on, Blue Fire wastes no time in throwing you in at the deep end.
No sooner have you escaped the glass canister, you are jumping around the dilapidated castle, cutting down enemies with your sword as you make your way from room to room in order to work out what the dickens is going on.
Initially, Blue Fire limits your move set and you are quickly introduced to the mechanics at work. You can swing your sword with Square, jump with X, and block attacks with Circle. Soon you unlock further abilities such as a ranged fire attack and a double jump, but not before you’re put through your paces – seriously, prepare to be put through the wringer because Blue Fire pulls no punches.
Blue Fire is tough. To explore the creepy castle, you need to master each and every move at the game gives you, mixing jumps and wall runs with dashes and double-jumps. Mixing up the order in which you pull off these moves gives different results, with some offering distance while others allow you to reach higher and harder to reach platforms.
With that in mind, the controls are fantastic, and after a few early bumps, I felt I quickly got a grasp on the basics. Whenever I would die it was my fault and not something I could blame on the game’s controls.
That isn’t to say Blue Fire doesn’t have its flaws – it does.
There are a few sticky situations where better camera tracking would have helped. The platforming is so fast-paced that it’s almost impossible to manage the camera as you bounce and bop your way from one platform to another. A vanilla complaint, but it is an issue nonetheless.
Blue Fire encourages exploration, and each area is broken down into a collection of rooms containing a variety of enemies and rewards. Chests lie in seemingly out of reach places, while NPCs wait with side-quests that offer some fairly decent rewards that will help you on your way, or at least make things a little easier for a while.
One such NPC you encounter introduces you to spirits – small, dark creatures that loiter in hard to reach areas and, once captured and equipped, unlock special abilities that help you on your way. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the game would be a few shades harder to complete without equipping at least a few of these little buggers, and having a few in your arsenal can make a massive difference as you make your way deeper into the castle.
Platforming aside, Blue Fire builds its narrative slowly, with the story opening up and expanding as you explore and progress further into the castle. It quickly becomes apparent that your job is to banish the Shadow that has overrun the grounds, by cleansing the Five Shrines that can be found scattered throughout the castle.
Each Shrine has a Guardian that it serves, but as they, too, have succumbed to the Shadow it is your job to send them packing by defeating them in combat – what would a modern platformer be without a good old fashioned boss battle?
These battles take place at the end of each Shrine, but the path to success is always similar – stand back, observe the attack patterns while avoiding the attacks, then dash in for a few quick stabby-stabs. Rinse and repeat. Defeating each Guardian cleanses the Shrine and in turn the castle.
Exploring dungeons, solving simple puzzles, defeating bosses and unlocking abilities that in turn allow you to progress further is a tried and true system, and Blue Fire presents it well with its own spin on abilities, exploration, and progression. Having said that, it is clear that Blue Fire draws large inspiration from The Legend of Zelda series, and let’s be honest that isn’t a bad thing.
This comparison extends somewhat to the Voids – self-contained platforming challenges that extend your life upon completion – which feel very much like the shrines in Breath of the Wild. These Voids can be found at certain sections throughout the castle, with each one tasking you with finding 30 glowing orbs by overcoming a variety of platforming challenges. Each one varies in difficulty, and I will confess that I turned the air blue playing these sections. They’re hard.
Although the game pushes you to explore and try to get to all the hard to reach places, it isn’t always obvious where to go next. Not only that but there was more than one occasion where I found myself somewhere I shouldn’t have been, at least not at that moment. I also found myself hitting a few dead ends, not realising that I’d need a certain ability before being able to move forward.
The game doesn’t tell you “return once you know how to double-jump” or whatever the ability may be. Instead, it seems happy to watch you bang your head against a brick wall until you finally give up and admit defeat. Some of you may read that and wonder what the big deal is, but when you don’t have a clue what abilities you can unlock, you have no clue whether you’re missing something important or just rubbish at the game.
While exploring and getting stuck is often a peril with many 3D platformers, what makes it frustrating in Blue Fire is the way its checkpoint system works. Providing you have some hearts left, if you die from say landing in water or mistiming a jump, you will spawn back to the last safe platform you were on.
However, if you die from losing all your hearts, you spawn back at the last Fire Shrine you visited. This can be really troublesome as sometimes that would mean losing a lot of progress, depending on when you were last at a Fire Shrine.
Putting all that aside, Blue Fire does a great job of walking the line between frustration and satisfaction. Quickly jumping back in after a demise only to go on and beat a particular section always managed to put a smile on my face. But, fair warning – there are no hints, tips or hand-holding of any kind. If you get stuck you are on your own, and the only way you to progress is by mastering the many tricks you have up your sleeve. Or with Google.
Blue Fire PS5, PS4 Review
Blue Fire walks a fine line between fair challenge and downright frustrating. Tight controls and a wide variety of tricks at your disposal mean you are never short of something new to try, but its punishing gameplay and frustrating checkpoint system drag the game down. If you like a decent 3D platformer and are willing to be frustrated as often as rewarded, Blue Fire is worth checking out.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS5.