It’s a situation that has plagued mankind since the dawn of time (probably). How do you get rid of unwanted eight-legged guests who invite themselves into your home, striking utter terror into your heart at every opportunity? Normally it’s with a shoe, a piece of paper and a glass, or one of them fancy spider catcher contraptions. But imagine if you could use a flamethrower, C4 and a shotgun? Well, Kill It With Fire is here to make all your dreams come true (but only in the virtual world as the disclaimer states Don’t Try This At Home). Good advice.
What we have here is a point and shoot adventure where you scour several locations infested with spiders. Luckily, you needn’t worry about the collateral damage caused as you hunt down the eight legged critters, as you’re clear to take them out by any means necessary. And I mean by ANY means. This is because you happen to work as a licensed Kill it With Fire exterminator, which apparently means insurance companies are happy to pay for any damages caused in the process of you hunting down your arachnid tormentors.
The old saying of “they are more scared of you, than you are of them” rings true, for the most part. They will scuttle around (sometimes hilariously pushing huge objects out of the way as they do so), but will do no more than jump or shoot webs at you. You have no health, so can’t be hurt, and you would maybe think that would take the scare factor away from the game. However, picking up an object, inspecting it, finding a spider on the underside and flinging it across the room after jumping out of your skin is a regular occurence in Kill It With Fire. Gladly it very much still carries the ability to shock you.
You’re guided through each level as each door requires a certain number of kills before you can unlock it. This also applies to some goody boxes too, so it’s always worth having a good look around. You’ll come across notes throughout the levels, which offer up additional objectives for you to complete. These are fairly straightforward, but will require lots of exploration which in turn creates plenty of opportunities to make you crap yourself.
As you’re a professional, you are kitted out with a “Spider Detector”. It works in a similar way to the motion detector from Alien: Isolation, albeit less scary and more crowded. You’ll come across all sorts of different types of spider, ranging from little baby spiders to those which explode just after they die. Each makes a slightly different noise as well, so if you pay close attention you’ll know exactly what’s lurking behind that picture or pile of books.
Once you uncover the little terrors, you can choose from four types of weapon in Kill It With Fire, which offer over 20 ways in which you can get to work and annihilate some arachnids. You unlock more as you play, and these range from the comic to the downright ridiculous. You can choose anything from a frying pan to an RPG to take out your eight legged tormentors. You can also lay down “treats” to lure them out of hiding, and then chuck a molotov cocktail at them. My personal favourite is attaching balloons to an anvil (yes, these count as a weapon) and then dropping it on an unsuspecting spider. But then if you are caught out whilst checking back on your objectives, it’s equally possible to just whack the little blighters with your clipboard. It’s utterly crackers, but so much fun.
Each level in Kill It With Fire is well-designed and full of stuff to find, such as different upgrades for your gear and Spider Detector. This includes unlocking the ability to sprint and hold more weapons for a quick draw. Also, upgrades to your arachnid tracking kit include showing spiders on your radar and telling you exactly how many are left to eliminate in each level. Although they only offer around 20 minutes of gameplay in each, there are nine levels in total. Of course, if you’re trying to find everything it will take you longer.
Although your time is mostly filled with finding creative methods of destroying spiders, you do get hints there is something else happening in the background. If you look carefully enough you’ll find several files marked with the omega symbol, but what could it possibly mean? Well, there’s no spoilers here.
When you have ticked off all of your objectives in a level, you will unlock the chance to run the ‘Arachno Gauntlet’. These work in a style very similar to Doom’s Slayer Gates, even down to the pumping heavy rock music in the background. These are against the clock challenges in which spiders will appear en masse, and you’ll need to take out a certain amount in a certain way to clear the gauntlet.
Once you’ve completed a level, you’ll keep hold of all the collectibles and weapons you’ve found. You can then jump back into any level at any time, to pick up any objectives or challenges you have missed, kitted out with your arsenal of weaponry. Even if you have no specific reason to, returning to levels to experiment with the many, many ways in which you can eliminate the infestation of spiders is great fun in itself. Or you can just fool about causing as much destruction as possible. Kill It With Fire can struggle with big explosions, such as at the petrol station, and severely lag or even stick for a few seconds before recovering. However, this is where the game’s sandbox elements pay off, giving you a certain amount of free reign to play without being tied to any objectives. If you’re struggling for inspiration, the Xbox achievements list will provide some.
Overall the controls work well, however you’ll sometimes struggle to pick up smaller items as you’ll need to hover your crosshair over them first. It’s only a minor niggle, which you’ll learn to live with before long.
The soundtrack (including sound effects) is just fantastic though. It’s a delightful comic romp, which never takes itself too seriously. Combined with the cartoonish cel shaded visuals, Kill It With Fire draws you into its ludicrously entertaining world with ease. Sometimes it feels like Team Fortress 2, and seconds later can switch to Untitled Goose Game, but overall its originality means it always firmly remains Kill It With Fire.
It’s a shame that there’s only a single player experience on offer here. I’d gladly have a sequel consisting of more of the same, however some sort of multiplayer option for future releases (perhaps where one player assumes the role of the spider) is a really exciting prospect.
Still, you’ll struggle to find a more enjoyable game to play, regardless of if you like spiders or not. Games such as Kill It With Fire risk putting all their eggs in one basket backing one solitary idea, and lazily building an experience around it. However, this is not the case here. Instead you have a blend of exploration, puzzle solving and shooting which all make Kill It With Fire an absolutely joyous experience. I just hope there is more to come.
Put simply, Kill It With Fire on Xbox is brilliant. It’s original, preposterous, but more importantly an absolute hoot. It does what few games have the power to, which is put a smile on your face and fill your heart with joy. The only snag is that you’ll never look at a house spider in the same way again.