Indie Boost – Wildfire

It is a tough time to be online right now. We are watching as a whole race rises up against the systematic oppression they have experienced for years. It is hard not to be upset and the urge to help is strong. If you are in Australia you may feel like helping is too hard, the distance too great. Player 2 would like to remind you all though that Australia is by no means innocent. Indigenous Australians have been victimised and silenced by ingrained systemic racism and police brutality for generations. We, as a nation, have treated them in such a bad way for so long their voice is no longer even acknowledged let alone heard. So helping starts at home. Write to your local state or federal MP. Donate or assist a charity that works with the Aboriginal communityEducate yourself about the traditional owners of the land you are now sitting on. These are just some of the small but important steps each and every one of us needs to take to make Australia and, by extension, the world a better place. Player 2 would also like to say it is important to recognise all marginalised voices in this country, from the LGQBT+ community to disabled Australians to other minority ethnic and refugee groups, and work together to make this a truly equal place to live.

Indie Boost – Wildfire

*Editor’s Note* Due to the writer’s personal friendship with Dan Hindes, creator of Wildfire, this is not a full review. We firmly believe, however, that Dan has created something wonderful so think of this piece as more of a mate recommending another mate’s work.  

For indie game developers right now, the scene is tough. Not that it’s ever been easy, but it’s certainly been a little easier than this. With the majority of conventions shut down for 2020, indie game devs have lost the opportunity to show people their work and give their audience a hands-on with their games. If you scroll through Steam there are thousands upon thousands of indie game titles begging to be looked at. Conventions gave developers the opportunity to put those games in your hands and say “play this”. 

So in 2020 when things are so different- how do indie games get noticed? How does yet another side-scrolling pixel art title get seen in a sea of games that look just like it? The fact of the matter is that unless you have a crack marketing team or a lovely little website full of reviewers who care about the state of aussie indie game development, it probably won’t. That’s why, with this review, I am hoping to make you take notice of at least one indie title this week, and it’s called Wildfire. 

Created by Daniel Hindes (who you might know from his constant yammering on twitter about how he looks like Justin Timberlake), Wildfire has taken many years to be released. So many years in fact that most of its Kickstarter backers forgot all about it- I know I sure did, even though Dan never shut the hell up about it. But as much as it pains me to say it (because my friendship with Hindes has carried on for 9 years and consists mostly of us insulting each other) it’s actually really good. 

Branded a witch by the soldiers of the ArchDuchess, your goal is to reclaim your village and rescue your friends and townspeople from these foes. Utilising stealth and elemental abilities (aka setting shit on fire), you make your way through stunning and well-designed levels to outsmart (or destroy) the army and reunite your village. Each level gives you a variety of optional objectives to encourage various playstyles- providing replayability for each stage. Do you prefer to take a stealth approach and remain unseen or do you straight up destroy everything you see? The choice is up to you. 

When playing single player I chose to opt for a stealth approach. Soldiers never saw me, and I slinked through levels without destroying or killing anything. However, this is a lot harder when playing with someone else, as I found when I tested the game’s local co-op feature. An actual conversation I had with my gaming buddy went like this:

Me: If you set everything on fire we won’t be able to hide in the grass anymore

Buddy: So?

Me: Well we need the grass to remain undetected

Buddy: *perilously burning everything he sees* Oh…do you care about that?

I’m sure you could utilise more thought-out strategies as a duo and be really smart about how you approached levels with two people. But my co-op experience involved a lot less organisation and a lot more burning bridges and murdering guards. It was through this blood-thirsty adventure that I discovered you can hurl the bodies of dead guards at their living friends, causing them to freak out (and me to laugh maniacally). This is a really fun little tidbit I’d not have noticed had I only played the game in stealth mode. 

Wildfire is full of fun bits and pieces for those who explore to find them (including a Simpsons easter egg!) but it also has its flaws. During my playthrough, I noticed a few typos in speech bubbles but my biggest gripe was with the controls itself. Wildfire offers controller support- which is amazing, but if you choose to play it using a mouse and keyboard you’re going to have a bad time. Some of the jumps require sprinting before you’ll close the gap, and holding down the run key and the sprint key and hitting the jump key at the right time feels really awkward on a keyboard. 

For fans of the stealth or platforming genre, Wildfire is a title that’s definitely worth your time. As both a single-player and local co-op experience it provides a multitude of varying playstyles for your preference. It’s strategic, it’s beautiful, it sounds fantastic and whilst the writing and story aren’t going to win any awards, these elements service the game competently. To put it simply, Wildfire is an enjoyable game that’s easy to pick up and hard to put down.  What more could you ask for from your latest indie purchase? 

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