Imagine this: a game with poor graphics, a bland concept, less than intuitive controls, and poor camera angles. If you put them all together you may very well end up with a game very close to Manifesto’s Play With Fire.
The player is a little ball of fire that has to destroy various blocks, by setting them on fire and having them crumble, in an attempt to get to a black block and go to the next level. Why does the player have to do this? Who knows. After the first two levels does the player care to go any further? I’d imagine not.
The player’s little ball of fire has to, on every level, destroy blocks in a certain order in order to reach the goal, which is the level exit block. Some blocks are completely indestructible, others not so much. The ball of fire has to destroy the blocks in a certain order (usually, anyway) so that they disappear in a timely enough way in order to allow the ball to jump on them as they burn or for the indestructible blocks don’t block the exit block.
The movement options for the player are simple: move left, right, front, back, jump, and crash back to the ground after jumping. It’s a simple enough concept that has worked for numerous platformers and puzzle games in the past, but in Play With Fire it simply leaves the player feeling completely handicapped. Crashing back to the ground after jumping causes a larger blast radius for the little ball of fire’s destructive capabilities, and there are times when this proves useful, but like most other things in the game, it all feels kind of pointless.
If the player does opt to continue playing being the first few levels, they’ll encounter more of the same, over, and over, and over again. While many games are built in this manner, here, every level does is uninspired. From the first level on the game is confusing, it’s incredibly hard to determine where the end-level block is, and a tricky camera that is nearly impossible to control (despite being provided with camera controls) doesn’t make the process any easier.
As for the graphics, they’re abysmally poor. The little ball of fire pretty much just looks like an orange-yellow ball, doesn’t glow or flicker or do anything remotely fire-like. The blocks change color while burning before they disappear, but they’re really don’t look like they’re burning at all, just that they’re changing color. It’s all terribly disappointing.
The game includes three different gameplay options: fun, puzzle, and challenge. Really these are just different skill levels, and I would not specifically qualify any of them as being “fun.”
It is true that there are fleeting moments of joy present in the game, like when after “burning” down an entire structure the exit block magically appears, despite the fact that the player never saw it, now matter how many times and ways the camera was adjusted. There are tons of levels present in the game, but only the truly intrepid, or bored, player would ever really want to see them all.
Play with Fire, downloadable from Manifesto Games, does not have an ESRB rating. It’s theme is vaguely pyromaniacal, but completely devoid of basis within the real world.