Nuclear Blaze’s mysterious narrative and fiery action make it a worthy Dead Cells successor – practical impressions

The name Sébastien Benard may not be familiar to you, but if you’ve played Dead Cells, you know his work. It might be one of the best indie games to come out in the past couple of years, and it’s not just another side-scrolling Metroidvania. It’s a good, uplifting title that prompts you to try it over and over again – and the same can be said of Bernard’s follow-up, Nuclear Blaze.

After leaving Motion Twin in 2019, Bernard created Deepnight Games and produced Nuclear Blaze. You play as a firefighter who fell in the middle of a raging fire in a mysterious facility. The game draws inspiration from elements of Dead Cells, but it also stands out as a unique and clever game with fun mechanics and explosive, if not frustrating, combat.

Living a childhood dream

Image via Deepnight Games

The game doesn’t waste time building a story about what started the fire or who you are. You don’t need to know, because you are a firefighter; one of the coolest jobs ever. Bernard made the game for his son, and let’s face it – a lot of us wanted to be a firefighter when we were growing up. You are tasked with putting out the hell that is spreading in a mysterious compound and are armed only with a reliable fire hose – no ax or other equipment. The fire hose is your weapon, and it’s a good weapon.

You start right outside the main entrance to the facility and dive deeper into it as you go. To move forward, you must extinguish the flames in your path and avoid touching them at all costs. Running into any fire will end your career and you will start over at the start of the level. You’ll navigate a number of different levels, each with their own unique look and design, ranging from covert government operations to enigmatic science experiments.

All in one working day

The controls are very simple: you can jump, rush, climb ladders and shoot with your spear. The fire hose is capable of spraying a stream of water in front, behind, above and below you. However, you need to keep an eye on how much water you have, as you may run out of it and all you have to do is shoot a short burst of water. The good news is that there are filling stations in every level. You’ll also learn how to dodge falling debris quickly and take cover if you’re quick enough. Figuring out where you need to go and how to solve each puzzle is exciting and never feels like a chore. You will even be rewarded for your exploration and can find and save the cats lost in the establishment. They are cute and cuddly and well worth the effort to look for.

The main driving force behind the game is finding out what caused the fire. To do this, you will need to put out fires on all levels and move on to the next section. Zones are a large puzzle that has locked doors that open as soon as the fire is gone, wooden doors that can be smashed, and card doors that require access to enter. You will also come across sprinkler systems that can put out flames that will keep spreading.

Fighting fires can be difficult and confusing. They can spread quickly and can even appear right where you are standing if you’re not careful. Fortunately, you can find armor for your costume so you can take a hit and keep moving forward. However, without the armor, any contact with fire or an enemy will send you racing. Unlike Dead Cells, every time you die in Nuclear Blaze you don’t have to start all over. Instead, you will start at the entrance to the level you are on.

However, while putting out uncontrollable fires is hard work, you won’t be doing it for hours. Nuclear Blaze is super short. It won’t be a 3 hour game like Dead Cells or even a nine to 10 hour game like Metroid Dread. We finished our game in just under three hours.

Another problem arises when it comes to managing orders. They are not the most user-friendly because you only ever use the space bar, the shift key, and the control keys. Since they are all in the same relative area of ​​the keyboard, you may find yourself hitting the wrong key and end up somersaulting a rampaging hell instead of dodging it.

Image via Deepnight Games

If you just want to explore the resort and experience history without too much difficulty, Nuclear Blaze has some great accessibility options. You can tweak the settings to make sure you never run out of water, have unlimited armor, and there’s even a kid mode to make everything a lot less difficult.

At the start of Nuclear Blaze, you are just a firefighter on a mission to put out fires and save cats. But as you go along you become more of a detective with access to a fire hose and protective gear. Fire may be your enemy, but knowing what started it pushes you deeper into the complex. It’s an exciting concept that can be tricky but isn’t overly complicated like Dead Cells.

The similarities between the two games make Nuclear Blaze worth checking out for anyone who enjoyed Dead Cells – although it doesn’t need the connection to make it great. Name recognition certainly helps spread the word, but take that away and Nuclear Blaze is still a wonderful game with a unique storyline and exciting elements.


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