Separated from your fellow firefighters while responding to a forest fire, you stumble across a secret underground facility. The facility is ablaze and as you venture deeper in, you start to uncover the true purpose of this mysterious bunker.
Made by the creator of Dead Cells, Nuclear Blaze is quite the departure from the hit roguelike. Nuclear Blaze instead opts to be a more linear adventure which trades fighting for firefighting. It does feature the same smooth controls that you would expect from the creator of Dead Cells though.
Each room you enter is sealed off by fire doors as the inferno rages, and as the only firefighter on the scene, it is your responsibility to put it out. The unique fire propagation system is the star of Nuclear Blaze’s “combat” system. Failing to put out all the flames in an area can set you back to step one. Your fire hose is your only friend as you have to systematically put out the flames and progress through the facility.
The challenge of Nuclear Blaze comes from being able to manage your water supply and successfully extinguish the flames without succumbing to them. A single misstep can see your efforts go up in smoke and send you back to the beginning of the stage.
Thankfully, there are water reservoirs and sprinklers spread throughout the facility that help with conquering the blaze. The reservoirs will automatically refill your water supply when nearby, so you can continue soldiering on, while the sprinklers can help clear out larger infernos and create respites from the blaze, so you can plan out your next move.
Upon successfully clearing an area, the red tinge of the flames will disappear from the screen and get replaced by a cool blue tint that is a sign of a job well done. The changing color tint is a nice addition to the beautiful pixel graphics. The vibrant colors and beautiful pixel art are phenomenal.
Along with being visually impressive, Nuclear Blaze also manages to fit in an engaging story that keeps you interested as you explore the facility. However, the biggest downside of Nuclear Blaze is the length. It can be cleared in under two hours and while there are additional game modes, they won’t be for all, more set for the kids.
That’s not some passive-aggressive comment either, it is literally called “Kid Mode”. Nuclear Blaze initially came into being as a project for the creator’s 3-year-old kid, but as the game developed, it became more complicated and too difficult. So to stay true to the original goal, Kid Mode was born. Water is infinite and auto aims, you can’t die, and the controls are simplified. There are also more trucks and helicopters, because they are awesome.
This is a mode made for very young children, so it is understandably incredibly easy. Ironically, I got confused when playing the mode for the first time because the simplified controls got rid of the need to jump. Instead, the character will automatically vault over obstacles. So while cats were meowing at me to save them, I was wondering why my jump button wasn’t working. I suppose I should’ve been tipped off when all the buttons were remapped to make using the fire hose the default action.
But I figured it out eventually and so that means I’m at least as good as a 3-year-old, right?
Along with Kid Mode, there are also fully adjustable controls to make the game as easy or difficult as you want. This was inspired by Celeste, another platforming metroidvania. On top of that, upon completing the game for the first time, you unlock “Hold My Beer” mode. The default difficulty is already challenging on its own, but Hold My Beer mode turns things up even more. Fire spreads faster and the disabled security system is now active and making your job as a firefighter much harder.
Nuclear Blaze is a rather short game, easily clearable in two hours. There are little secrets to find, like the cats hidden throughout the levels, but even these wouldn’t take too much time to search out. The Hold My Beer mode adds an extra level of replayability for people seeking a true challenge, but I personally was satisfied with my initial playthrough of the game. If you’re an achievement hunter you won’t have too hard of a time getting most of the achievements either – many of them are related to finding collectibles/secrets hidden throughout the facility. The hardest challenge you’ll face is clearing the game on Hold My Beer mode.
Overall, Nuclear Blaze is a short and sweet game that can take up a chunk of your day if you feel like trying something new. The collectibles and challenge mode difficulty will extend your playtime if you choose to go that route. On the other hand, even people who aren’t good at platformers will find Nuclear Blaze accessible, what with its range of difficulty modifiers.