Developed by Kautki Cave and published by Untold Tales, Flame Keeper is a brand-new, upcoming rogue-lite action game featuring amazing visual and fighting mechanics. While the full game is still under development, we got a chance to dig into an early access demo of Flame Keeper which gave us a chance to try out a slice of this amazing title. This particular demo is part of Flame Keeper’s closed beta that you can try out yourself by applying at the game’s official Steam page. This is our preview of the Flame Keeper demo in which we burn some bugs and light up Eternal Flame with our own energy.
Flame Keeper puts you in the shoes of a small coal called Ignis who is present in the world of Orbis. Orbis is overrun by the forces of darkness and the Eternal Flame has lost its fire. Now it is your task to find all of the flames out there and return them back to the Eternal Flame to restore them back to its glory days. There is a small twist here because in order to restore the power of Eternal Flame, you will be sacrificing your own health. For a rogue-lite, this brings an additional challenge into the mix because, in this genre, even the tiniest bit of health is really important because if you die, you start at the very beginning of the game. For saving the Eternal Flame, you will be finding the hidden torches and bring them back to the Eternal Flame and feed them with your own fire to power up the flame.
The game tells you at the beginning that a controller is recommended but I played the entire demo with a keyboard and mouse, and it was fine. You need a little time getting used to the visuals and the cursor because sometimes you forget where the cursor is located especially when a lot of enemies suddenly jump you but other than that, the keyboard and mouse worked fine for us in the game. After completing the tutorial, you will arrive in the main hub of the game called Vulpis Village where you will spend your time while you are not out killing enemies and squashing bugs. Here, you can visit different buildings to upgrade them, unlock your own skills and meet with different NPCs. Since this was just a demo, some of the features are locked in it so there might be more in the full game that we might be able to do in the village.
In the center of the village, you have your flame portal from where you can select a biome and complete levels there in order to find resources and upgrade yourself. The full version of Flame Keeper will have four different biomes and the demo currently only offers two biomes. Each of the biomes has different levels with the concluding one adding a boss fight in the mix as well. Each of the levels has further different levels that you have to complete in order to unlock the next one. For example, the first biome in the game is called Jagged Planes and its first level is called Mole’s Hole. So, to progress to the second level Strange Seed, you have to complete three stages in Mole’s Hole in a row without dying. If you die even at the last stage, you have to play all three levels from the start. It might seem a little frustrating but if you are getting frustrated at it, you have never played a rogue-lite before.
During my playthrough of the demo, the difficulty level does not seem too hard or too easy to ruin the gameplay. It seems balanced so far but since the game is currently in development, I cannot really say what will be the condition when the full version of the game comes out. It is quite enjoyable in its current state, and it gives enough time for you to get comfortable with the controls before ramping up the difficulty of combat so that you can easily cope with it. I am sure that the gameplay will be refined at its full release since the developer has already done an amazing job with it. Your main goal in every level is to feed the Eternal Flame with fire which is basically your health.
As you feed it, your health will trickle down and you can keep going until only a small amount of health is left. You cannot give this last bit of health because otherwise, you will die. As you drain yourself, your inner spark dies down and your light and the overall visual theme of the game also die down with it. As you go out and refill your health with fire, you will get your health back and the visuals will return to their normal colors as well. The enemies will try their best to kill you and they come in all shapes and sizes as well. Certain enemies cast a debuff on you as well like the earthworm enemy that borrows and moves under you, if it hits you, you are slowed down and another enemy explodes if you kill it. Similarly, as you progress in the game, you face tougher and tougher enemies, so you have to amp up your own skills as well to get better.
While your initial moveset might seem a little limited, you can customize Ignis massively with progression in the game. Eventually, you will have three unique aspects to customize after clearing some of the initial levels. While everything is available right from the start, you will need the right amount of resources in order to unlock them and each Biome in the game offers a different resource to collect so naturally, upgrades are tied to progression. In addition, you also have to upgrade the buildings in your village to greater tiers in order to upgrade Ignis. Your base abilities allow you to have a custom build while Scrolls are dropped by enemies while you are out in the biomes.
You can view what each Scroll does in your village, but you cannot equip them. These Scrolls are randomly dropped, and you never know which ones you find in the game in each run. Since this is a rogue-lite, it is all randomized every time you jump in the game giving you a fresh challenge every time. The bits that you can customize include your base skills and runes that give you a passive ability. All of these require resources to purchase and you will also need to upgrade their respective buildings to higher tiers in order to unlock them first. This gives you a good sense of progression in the game and it is not just a boring typical rogue-lite. Even a failed attempt will give you something to move on to in the next run. This high level of customization also allows you to have a build that is suited to your play style and the ability to change passives quickly and with random scrolls, you can try out different builds easily as well.
Now I will move to my favorite bit of the demo and Flame Keeper and which is the art style and visual design of the game. I absolutely loved how the game plays around with fire in its visuals. Since you are a small ember, you are also fire so you are mostly glowing and your surroundings are mostly dark so everywhere you go, you will be casting light here and there and shadows moving around according to your movement. Since the Elder Flame is dying, so the world around is gloomy and dark and everywhere there is fire, that area lights up. Apart from the overall visuals, the enemy design is pretty cool as well and so is the level design. Some levels also bring certain light platforming mechanics into play and you can fall down to your death if you are not careful so there’s that as well.
The world of Flame Keeper feels alive as the areas have random NPCs that you cannot interact with and sometimes they will come out of their homes to steal flames as well that are dropped by enemies you kill. You can beat them up to make them drop the flame. The enemies continue to respawn so there is no shortage of action anywhere you go. The main hub of the game is filled with activity as well and since the enemies in all of the biomes respawn, no part of the game feels empty at any time.
My favorite bit about Flame Keeper is the visuals of the game and how the game combines platforming with roguelite elements. It is a really balanced game and how you have to make the final decision of how much health you should keep with you and how much you should deposit in Eternal Flame is always a bargain. Flame Keeper is a promising title and I loved playing its demo. Kautki Cave is doing an amazing job with the development so far and I am really looking forward to playing the full version of the game when it comes out. Flame Keeper is surely a challenging title but the brilliant level design, beautiful visuals, and solid rogue-lite elements keep you glued to the screen even if you are dying again and again. This is one to keep on your watchlist because it is surely on ours.